The Luke Westlake Scholarship is designed to provide a young actor with financial support to help them both in their final year of drama school and as they enter into the industry as a graduate. This year’s winner, Ayomide Adegun, writes about his career thus far and what winning the scholarship will mean for him.

I applied for the Luke Westlake Scholarship because I saw it as a great opportunity to benefit my career. With everything on offer — a Spotlight membership, a showreel, a voice reel, headshots, a full tax return, meetings with casting directors and agents, and help with rent after graduating — it was hard to ignore. I had worries about what it would be like within the industry after graduating, and a large proportion of that worry was financial — headshots, for instance, can cost up to £400.

I had not heard of Just Add Milk before seeing them on my Twitter feed, and after doing research into what they’re about, it really made sense to apply. The most attractive trait about them is their drive to support disadvantaged/working class actors. As a young working class actor this means everything — it makes me feel safe to know that there are organisations out there such as Open Door, B.A.M.E, and Talawa who care for the wellbeing of underrepresented groups and are actively are trying to rectify the lack of opportunity for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. There has been a long overdue shift for this change. Just Add Milk are working hard to fix that and you can see this in the steps they are taking to open doors for people like me.

Studying at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has been a pleasurable, challenging and fulfilling experience so far. Moving from London to Cardiff was a bit of a culture shock at first, mainly because of the environment. It’s a lot slower paced than London and people tend to make slightly more eye contact out there, which was unsettling for me at first, but now I find it very warm and friendly.

I started as a very “get up and go” type of actor, and training has really helped to enhance my attention to detail and listening skills. Royal Welsh does not adhere to any particular acting theory or ideology. We touch on many different ones and add them to our tool kit, so we can personally choose what works best for us individually. But one thing college drills into us is ‘contact’ – the ability to connect with your scene partner, the circumstances of your character or maybe even the audience – it is a very all-encompassing term. It is a simple but key fundamental technique I will carry with me throughout my career and life in general.

I feel immensely humbled to win the Luke Westlake Scholarship. Speaking to Luke’s parents and his friends Kyle, Kristian, and Liam [founders of JAM] and hearing about how much they loved him for the great character he was motivates me greatly to continue working hard while striving to be a role model for an up-and-coming generation of young people, not just actors.

I am particularly passionate about improving the criminal justice system, especially early intervention. A lot of young people are living a life of crime due to their environmental, domestic, and social-economic circumstances. In many cases these kids are unaware of their own potential, or are being made to believe that their worth is minimal, or entirely derives from money or respect from others who also live dishonestly. It is a heartbreakingly vicious cycle. I count myself very fortunate to be able to now see it from an outside point of view.

Education can be a big part of the problem. As a kid growing up, I was badly behaved at school — I was hyper, fun-loving and mischievous, I had a short attention span for subjects like maths, English, and science (unless we were experimenting with practical experiments). I excelled in PE, but because of my behaviour in academic classes, everything I truly enjoyed doing was taken away from me as a means of punishment, which ultimately made me rebel even more, hindering the chance of nurturing my natural talents. There are kids out there who were not as lucky as me, to have gotten to a point where they are able to look at their life without negative influence from teachers, peers, and parents clouding their lens and toxically causing conflict with their heart’s desires.

I’m very fortunate to have met people like Sharon Kanolik [former Participation Projects Manager at the Young Vic] who nudged me in the right direction. I have found a career I adore wholeheartedly. It has given me a platform to express my inner nature, and I would literally live and die for it. I’m grateful to pursue this regardless of my academic performance, and I hope I can use my experiences to inspire and make negative outcomes for the working class a less prevalent narrative in our society today.

For more information about the Luke Westlake Scholarship, visit the Just Add Milk website for more details.

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