Franchesca Parker ‘25


Junior BFA Acting Major, placed as a finalist in the Acting Scholarship Competition at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Region II Festival (January 24-27, 2024). Franchesca was chosen as one of three top acting students from a pool of 198 entrants from the mid-Atlantic states. In recognition of her achievement, she was awarded $500 to attend this summer’s Voice and Speech Trainers Conference and a student membership to that organization. We asked Franchesca to share her experience with us.


Attending The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) was one of the highlights of being a part of the UMBC Theatre department and being an artist. It challenged me in a lot of ways, but ways that will ultimately help me grow. The first thing to happen was being selected as a nominee to compete at the conference, which was an honor in itself. Next, I had to do quite a list of things: pick a scene partner, pick two monologues of contrasting genres, plan a trip and get rehearsals over the winter break. I was stressed to say the least but when it was all done and the night before the conference had arrived, I felt so accomplished already and felt ready to go. When we arrived at the conference we immediately headed over to a dance class with Broadway’s Correy West and it was UH-MAZING! We learned how fast dance calls go and being a dancer for 10 years, I felt like a piece of me was back and even got called out by Correy saying “Oh that was good!” After that workshop, we got to see a performance of HCC’s “Medea” as an opening performance, which was incredibly cool to see! Afterward, we found out the round two semi-finalists, and let me just say that I had some tears in my eyes because I was so proud to have made it to round two and to perform with my scene partner, Katie Hetzer, who also put in so much work! For the rest of the conference it was rehearsal time for me and Katie as the next rounds and feedback were one right after another. We didn’t get to attend many workshops, but even from the rehearsal process and feedback sessions, Katie and I learned so much about ourselves, what we can lean into, how we can better our scene, and how to feel these characters.


The announcement for round three rolled around, and yet again, I sat in shock as we had moved on to be finalists! 198 to 32 down to 16. I didn’t expect this and I certainly didn’t expect what happened next. At our closing ceremony, the winners of the Irene Ryans Scholarship were announced, but one finalist would be given the VASTA award for vocal promise and talent. I heard my name and didn’t know what to think. I expected to leave with memories but not an award as well. This $500 scholarship towards the VASTA conference will absolutely help me in my endeavors as an actress. Acting isn’t just what you’re doing with your body or expressions, but it is also about your sound. How a voice resonates may change the life of an audience member. I want to take this opportunity to enhance my ability to move those watching me on a stage. KCACTF has given me so much and I couldn’t be more appreciative for this opportunity and award. I want to thank Nigel Semaj, Eve Muson, Laurie Newton, Katie Hetzer and so many more instructors, colleagues and friends for supporting me in this journey and being the team I needed! And of course my mom, for always believing in my dreams!