Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship is awarded each year to a graduate student studying directing at an accredited university. The award is named after Dr. Leighton M. Ballew who served as Chair of the Drama Department (now Theatre and Film Studies) at the University of Georgia for more than 40 years.

2017 Ballew Directing Scholar

Congratulations, Tom Alsip!

A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Tom spent 10 years working in New York City as an actor, director, teacher and voice-over artist. A proud member of AEA, Tom was a part of the National Tours of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Tom also created the role of New Kid on the original cast recording of When Push Comes to Shove and the role of Chad in Wood! off Broadway. An actor and director in numerous regional productions as well as productions in New York City, Tom most recently Co-Directed Here I Sit Brokenhearted at the Beckett Theater in New York. In addition to acting and directing, Tom spent two and half years teaching at NYU’s Stonestreet School for Film and Television, creating the Musical Scene Study on Film class and teaching Voice-Over Performance. In addition to his work at NYU, Tom has taught in the Theater Departments of LeMoyne College and the University of Alabama, where he is currently pursuing his MFA in Directing.

The 2017 Ballew Scholar Will Receive:

  • $3,000 for graduate study in directing
  • Free SETC student membership
  • Free registration for the 2017 SETC Convention
  • Three-night hotel stay during Convention, arranged and provided by SETC
  • One ticket to the SETC Awards Banquet at Convention, where scholars will be recognized
  • Photo and bio recognition on the SETC website


Candidates must meet each of these qualifications to be eligible for this award:

  • You must be planning to attend an accredited program of graduate studies in Theatre Directing during the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • You must have graduated from, be currently attending, or have plans to attend an accredited academic institution in one of the following 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.

2017 Application Guidelines:

Submit the following materials to the Leighton M. Ballew Scholarship Committee Chair Robert Homer-Drummond by September 15, 2016:

  • Completed application
  • Personal letter outlining plans and objectives for graduate work
  • A complete resume, including any work in stage management or play direction
  • Three reference letters speaking specifically to the applicant’s potential as a graduate student in Theatre Directing
  • Letter of acceptance by an accredited graduate program in Theatre Directing (if available)
  • Complete, official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

Please Note: It is recommended that you submit all materials in a single, multi-page PDF document.

2017 Selection Process and Timeline:

  • All applications must be submitted by the deadline, September 15, 2016.
  • All finalists will be notified by October 20, 2016 to schedule interviews. Interviews may be conducted in person at LiNK 2016 (SETC and USITT’s graduate recruiting event) or via phone.
  • All finalists will be notified whether or not they have been selected as the Ballew Scholar by November 21, 2016.
  • The Ballew Scholar is invited to attend the 2017 SETC Convention, March 1-5, 2017, in Lexington, KY. SETC will cover the cost of membership, convention registration and a three-night hotel stay. Scholars are expected to help operate the SETC Scholarships Display table during the convention.
  • After July 1, 2017 – Upon notification of matriculation to the SETC Executive Director that the Scholar has entered an accredited program of graduate studies in Theatre, the award money will be released.

Recent Ballew Directing Scholars

Lauren Ellis ~ 2016 Ballew Directing Scholar

Lauren Brooke Ellis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Aiken where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Theatre. She spent the majority of those four years directing and stage managing productions for which she received several student stage management nominations from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Regional Festival. She was invited twice to direct for their 10-Minute Play Festival and even received an Irene Ryan nomination for her portrayal of Lainie Walker in Two Roomsduring her junior year.

Lauren has a passion for marginalized playwrights and subject matter, and hopes to use her graduate studies to increase her knowledge on the subject and will allow her to use the stage as a platform to tell the stories that often get left untold.

Kristin Rose Kelly ~ 2015 Ballew Directing Scholar

“The Leighton M. Ballew Directing Scholarship allowed me to attend SITI Company Theatre Workshop at Skidmore College. I was able to practice Viewpoints, Suzuki and Composition with amazing SITI ensemble members while collaborating with theatre artists from all over the world. The workshop has been integral to my MFA directing projects at Virginia Tech. I frequently use Viewpoints for dance and directing projects for warm ups, group connection and awareness, and staging. Suzuki has allowed me to reconnect to myself as a performer and the rigor, focus, breath, and energy needed in performance. Finally, Composition has given me tools and theories as a director to consider and attend to the how of storytelling.”