A prestigious award win has helped two acting graduates from the University of Northampton to get their careers off to a flying start.
On their graduation day in July, Steve Banks and Zoe Davey received a Martin Lawrence Award for the best male and best female actors, respectively, on their Acting degree course.
The accolade, which is handed out to just two final-year Acting students a year, has helped the talented pair to pursue their dreams of working in the industry.
Steve has secured a place with the Tickled Pink production company, and will be touring the UK in a production of A Christmas Extravaganza. He will also be performing at Wicksteed Park in Kettering, during October and November.
Zoe, meanwhile, is running children’s drama workshops at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate theatres and this autumn will be appearing in Killed, a touring production from the town’s Looking Glass Theatre.
“The award has had the effect of really pushing me since I’ve graduated,” said Steve. “It gave me the confidence that I am actually good at this.”
He added: “The course prepared me for working in the industry – people have been taken aback by how prepared I am. So I think the course couldn’t have taught us anything more, we are so ready by the end of the three years.”
Zoe said: “To be one of only two people to receive this is really the icing on the cake. To be recognised in this way by such an experienced group of tutors has had a big effect on my confidence and is something I am proud to have on my CV.
“I loved my time at University. The course is just incredible and I was able to meet some amazing, talented people – both tutors and students.”
Martin Lawrence is a member of the Court of the University, and the benefactor of the award, having generously donated since 2011.
He said: “The University is a real centre of excellence and we have a lot of quality within it and my award goes some way to recognising this.
“To be named best male actor and best female actor really is something to shout about and I would like to congratulate Steve and Zoe on this fantastic achievement.”
Dr Ross Prior, Subject Leader for Acting and Drama at the University, said: “I am immensely proud of the graduates who come out of the Acting programme.
“Over the years we have seen some amazingly talented individuals go on to achieve sustained and successful careers. Of last year’s graduates there can only be two recipients and Zoe and Steve are deserving winners of the Acting programme’s highest achievement award.
“On behalf of the programme and personally, I thank Martin Lawrence for all the generous support he has given the students and to me over the years.”
Acting and Drama courses at the University were recently recognised in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016, where they were ranked 1st for Teaching Quality and in the top 10 for Student Experience.
Pictured from left are, Martin Lawrence, Zoe Davey, Steve Banks and Dr Ross Prior.