Final Round of Annenberg Fellowships Announced


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From left, Ruibo Qian, Khari Joyner, Emily Erb and Samantha Hankey, four of the eight recipients of the 2017 Leonore Annenberg Fellowships.

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From left: Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts; Nicolas Guilbert; David Hale; Jiyang Chen

Herman Aguirre, a second-year M.F.A. student at the Art Institute of Chicago, is an artist whose Mexican-American heritage pushed him to strive for social change through his paintings, which have depicted Mexican drug cartels.

Ruibo Qian is an actress who has appeared in “Manchester by the Sea,” the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle,” and Comedy Central’s “Broad City.”

Khari Joyner, a cellist, once performed at the White House for President Obama.

Jia Kim, another cellist, was groomed under the tutelage of the violinist Itzhak Perlman.

These and four others, have been named recipients of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund in its 10th and final year. The scholarship, based at the University of Pennsylvania, invests in promising artists to help them begin their careers. Past recipients include the ballet dancer Misty Copeland (2008), who seven years later would be named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” and the actor André Holland (2008), who would go on to appear in “Moonlight” and “Selma.”

The fellowship has collaborated with several institutions every year, including the Lincoln Center Theater and the Juilliard School, to find qualified candidates. It was originally established with a 10-year life span. Including the current group, the fund has distributed $6 million to 70 up-and-coming artists.

“I’m sad in part because I think this has a proven track record,” Gail Levin, the fund’s director, said. Ms. Levin cited the success of past winners, who in turn have mentored incoming classes of recipients.

The eight scholarship winners will each receive $50,000 in grant money. The other winners are Ato Blankson-Wood, an actor; Emily Erb, a painter; Samantha Hankey, an opera singer; and Cassandra Trenary, a ballet dancer.

The fellowship was established by Leonore Annenberg, a former chief of protocol for the United States, who made cultivating the arts a centerpiece of her philanthropy before her death in 2009. The idea behind the grants was to allow artists at the start of their careers to focus on their discipline without having to worry about making ends meet.

“I’m incredibly grateful that I’m a fellow, period, but especially that I’m one of the last recipients,” Ms. Hankey said. She said she planned to use the money to help her prepare for overseas performances.

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