Bryson Battle of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Elena Holder of Durham, North Carolina, won Best Performance by an Actor and Actress, respectively, at the 2021 Jimmy Awards July 15 in a ceremony that saw student performers from 36 regions across the country competing to be named the best in high school musical theatre. Both will receive $25,000 scholarships to further their educations.
The entire ceremony, which features performances from all of the nominees, is available to stream in full through July 18 at JimmyAwards.com.
Benjamin Brown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Justin Cooley of Kansas City, Missouri; Mateo Lizcano of New York, New York; Victoria Evans of Seattle, Washington; Kuper Walker of Los Angeles, California; and Ava Wolesky of Kansas City, Missouri, won $3,000 scholarships as finalists; $2,000 scholarships were awarded to Best Dancer winner Kiara Geolina of San Diego, California; Rising Star winner Ben Gray of Memphis, Tennesse; Best Performance in an Ensemble winner Brady McComas of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Spirit of the Jimmys winner Kuper Walker of Los Angeles, California.
Semifinalist scholarships, which also included a $2,000 award, were bestowed on Tayor Garlick of Logan, Utah; Parker Jackson of Dallas, Texas; William Morris of San Diego, California; Jaaziah Vallano of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Naliah Hernandez of San Antonio, Texas; Rafaella Mark of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Audrey Saucier of Omaha, Nebraska; and Katie Smith of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Cumulatively, 20 scholarships and awards were given out at the 2021 Jimmy Awards. Since its inception 12 years ago, the system has awarded more than $4,000,000 in educational scholarships.
The 2021 Jimmy Awards also honored the educators behind the 2019 student performance winners—there were no awards given in 2020 due to the health crisis. As announced earlier this year, Katelin Ruzzamenti Knight (of Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah) and Benjamin Pesenti (of Elmont Memorial High School in Elmont, New York) received the 2021 Inspiring Teacher Awards.
The judge's panel for this year's honors included Kent Gash, Montego Glober, Brian Moreland, Alecia Parker, Tara Rubin, Luis Salgado, Nick Scandalios, and Bernie Telsey. Preliminary judges included Pun Bandhu, Rashad Chambers, Kristian Charbonier, Stephanie Klapper, Kevin Metzger-Timson, and Thom Sesma.
The ceremony was directed by Van Kaplan and choreographed by Kiesha Lalama, with Michael Moricz serving as musical arranger and conductor and Mary Jane Brennan as writer. All four have been with the Jimmy Awards since they began over a decade ago.
Named in honor of the late producer and theatre owner James M. Nederlander, the Jimmy Awards traditionally see nominees from regional awards nationwide partaking in a week of events, workshops, and master classes with industry professionals in New York City, culminating in a final ceremony on a Broadway stage where the nominees compete with performances to earn the top titles and 20 college scholarships. Both the final performance and the week of coaching, rehearsals, and other activities were held online in 2021, a move that follows the cancellation of last year's awards entirely.
This year's ceremony also featured eight student reporters who sat in for online sessions and rehearsals. The reporters created a series of videos offering first-hand reporting on the nominee experience and preparations for the final ceremony. Student reporters also met with industry professionals to learn from their experience and advice.
Past Jimmy Award winners include Andrew Barth Feldman and Renée Rapp, both of whom quickly moved on to Broadway careers. Feldman, most recently seen in Ratatouille: The TIkTok Musical, starred on Broadway in the title role of Dear Evan Hansen, while Rapp was the final Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway.