Denise Halbach Performance Scholarship

About the Scholarship

The Denise Halbach Performance Scholarship is awarded to a student pursuing a graduate degree in acting or musical theatre performance. The award is named for Denise Halbach, a past president of SETC and 2011 recipient of the Suzanne M. Davis Memorial Award.

Denise Halbach
Denise Halbach

Application Period
January – April 15th

  • Applications Accepted: January 1 – April 15
  • Application Reviews / Candidate Interviews: April – June
  • Winning Scholar Announced on SETC Website
  • Scholarship Funds Available: Upon Proof of Matriculation, Upcoming Academic Year
  • Winning Scholar Attends SETC Convention
  • $2,000
  • Free one-year SETC student membership
  • Free registration for the following year’s SETC Convention
  • Photo and bio recognition on the SETC website and social media platforms

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

  • You must be planning to attend an accredited graduate program of Acting, Performance or Musical Theatre during the upcoming academic year.
  • You must have completed undergraduate work at a regionally accredited institution in one of the following 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.

For consideration, eligible candidates must submit the following materials by the deadline:

  • Personal letter outlining plans and objectives for graduate study
  • Video recording (website link preferred) of the candidate performing three contrasting monologues of less than two minutes each; presentation of a song from musical theatre may take the place of one or two of the monologues
  • A detailed resume of all theatre work
  • Two or three (2-3) letters of reference speaking to the applicant’s potential as a graduate student in Theatre Performance
  • Complete, current transcripts from all colleges/universities attended


Questions about submitting application materials should be sent to

Scholarship Stories

Recent Halbach Performance Scholars share what winning the scholarship meant to their studies and how the award funds helped them pursue their ambitions:

No winner selected for this year.

Anna Medley is a recent graduate of Samford University where she received her BFA in Musical Theatre. At Samford, she was able to perform in various projects such as Little Women (Marmee March), 1776 (Benjamin Franklin), Wings of Ambition (Icarus), and several others. She was also able to explore her directing, playwriting, teaching, dramaturgy, and design skills. This fall, she is attending the Actor’s Studio Drama School at Pace University to pursue her MFA in Acting. She would like to thank her family, friends, teachers, and mentors for everything they have taught her. She is incredibly honored to be the recipient of the Denise Halbach Scholarship and is excited to continue to tell powerful, life-changing stories in the future. She is forever inspired by amazing artists, such as Denise Halbach, and yearns that all artists remain hopeful and creative during these uncertain times. Spread Love.

James Stringer Jr - Halbach 20-21

James Stringer Jr.

James Stringer Jr was born and raised in Louisville, KY. Although he did not get into theater until well into college, he soon realized that he found his passion. James got his Bachelor’s from The University of Louisville in 2017. Since then he has worked at Kentucky Shakespeare, was a part of the acting internship at The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and a touring artist for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Now James is excited to start his studies at The University of Virginia in pursuit of his Master’s degree. He is so thankful to have won the Denise Halbach Scholarship! It is a huge confidence booster and will help pay for moving and school expenses. In Art of Poetry, Horace wrote, “A bard will wish to teach or to please, or, as a tertium quid, do both of these.” This quote has been an inspiration to James since college and will continue to be in the work he does going forward.

Charence Higgins headshot

Congratulations, Charence Higgins!

Charence Higgins, 24, is a Mississippi native who has had a passion for acting as long as she can remember. She holds degrees in Psychology and Theatre from Jackson State University and is currently continuing her education at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a candidate in the MFA Acting program. Past roles include Judy in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Goneril in the premiere of Fools & Madmen, Sister Thea Bowman in Thea’s Turn, Miss Evers in Miss Evers’ Boys, along with several historic roles at the Smithsonian Institute’s American History Museum and African American History Museum in Washington, DC. She recently competed in the National Society of Arts & Letters National Drama Competition and placed 5th in the country. She is elated to use her talents to portray thought-provoking roles and continue to teach and develop future theatre artists!

LaShondra Hood ~ 2018-2019 Scholar

“Winning this scholarship helped me defray the cost of conferences this year. I was able to attend three conferences with this scholarship and start to lay the foundation for the next step! As I approach graduation, I am excited to say that I booked my first professional job through SETC this year!”

Lauren Gunn ~ 2017-2018 Scholar

Lauren Gunn is the Denise Halbach Scholarship Winner for 2017.

No winner selected for this year.

Anita Salley ~ 2015 Scholar

“SETC’s Denise Halbach Award enabled me to purchase much needed books and supplies while also helping with tuition costs in my first year of graduate school. In total, I was able to work on 10 shows as a cast or crew member, travel to Los Angeles for a two-week screenwriting intensive and perform my thesis role as Lady Bracknell during my three years of study. On May 6, 2017, I received my MFA in Acting with an A average from Regent University in front of family and friends. In the past three months, I have been able to start teaching right away by giving a four-week drama camp at my high school alma mater and teaching dance and drama at a local community center’s summer camp. I am currently teaching movement and musical theatre as a faculty member at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. In 2015, even though I could not attend the awards program because I was in a show, I received a lovely letter from Ms. Halbach and a beautiful tiara. That meant a lot to me at a time when I was unsure if I would be able to finish my program. I’m very grateful for the award and can personally attest to its value and necessity for young theatre professionals.”

Thomas Azar ~ 2014 Scholar

“The Denise Halbach Award helped me afford to take a year off from professional work to pursue my MFA with the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Living in the DC area is quite expensive, but thanks to the Award, I got the chance to study with some of the top classical acting faculty in the country. Transportation costs and living expenses were covered in large part thanks to the generosity of Denise Halbach and SETC, allowing me to seize an opportunity to sharpen my skills as an actor.”


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