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ETC goes virtual for 2020 Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program, introduces 12 mentees

2020 LDI Student Sponsorship recipients

Though many plans have changed in 2020, ETC is committed to its annual tradition of hosting its Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program. Born from late Founder and CEO Fred Foster’s passion for mentoring the next generation of lighting professionals, the program facilitates connections between students and industry professionals each year. For more than 20 years, ETC has hosted the student mentees at LDI and held a special networking event.

For the first time, ETC will host all mentorship activities virtually in 2020. The program will comprise of a series of presented sessions and online discussions to introduce students to the industry’s brightest talent. The students will then be paired with a mentor to provide academic and career guidance for the next year and beyond.

ETC is pleased to introduce the 2020 recipients of the Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program:

Brodrick Whittley

Brodrick Whittley
Brodrick is currently studying at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and is the lead technician for SCADstory. The immersive 4D experience includes show control with over 15 laser projectors, full audio installation and ETC theatrical lighting. He has also gained lighting experience working for Walt Disney World and Resorts, Carnival Cruise Line, and the Super Bowl Halftime Show presenting Lady Gaga.

Emma Blissitt

Emma Blissitt
Emma is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, majoring in Comprehensive Theater with a technical emphasis. This year, she will act as associate designer for UWEC’s spring opera and act as lighting designer for her first main stage production in the 500 seat JAMF Theatre at the new Pablo Center in Eau Claire. She is the Theater Crew Chief for UW Event Services, which oversees lighting and rigging for all campus events. Recent design credits include James and the Giant Peach, Cabaret: Game Over, Almost Maine, and more.

Jake Frizzelle

Jake Frizzelle
Jake is a Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate for Lighting Design & Technology at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Jake has a demonstrated history of working as an electrician, designer, and artist for theatre and opera, and has goals of creating work for themed environments, immersive experiences, and architecture. He recently was the lighting designer for Soundscape, an interactive installation at UNCSA. His current project is called "Inheritance" and is a collaboratively devised work that blends immersive storytelling with architectural lighting in a historic landmark of Winston-Salem - opening at the end of October. Notably, Jake was selected as a finalist in the 2020 Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Student Design Competition.

Hannah Kerman

Hannah Kerman
Hannah is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama at Carnegie Mellon University, with a focus on Lighting Design. She has worked as an intern for Full Flood, Inc., and 4Wall, and has assisted with live televised productions such as “America’s Got Talent,” the “Golden Globes,” and the “DGA Awards.” Recent theatrical design credits include Wild, What \\Washed Ashore// Astray, Compensation, and more. She is currently working on an independent study focusing on television lighting.

Melanie Spiel

Melanie Spiel
Melanie is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatrical production & design with a concentration in lighting design at Ithaca College. She is eager to work on a variety of lighting projects, from plays, to special events, to live television. This past year, she was an electrician/lighting intern at the 2019 Chain NYC Film Festival. She is currently working on She Kills Monsters and recent design credits include Dido and Aeneas, Experiential Atonement, and more.

Michael Rathbun

Michael Rathbun
Michael is set to begin his studies for a Master of Fine Arts degree in Stage Design with an emphasis on Lighting Design at Dublin’s Lir Academy this fall. He is originally from Southwest Wisconsin, growing up on a farm outside Hollandale, WI. He hopes to facilitate cross-cultural collaboration between the Irish and American theatre worlds through his designs for theatre, dance, broadcast, and more. His previous design experience spans across the world, from Chicago, to Bangkok, to France. Recent design credits include LA Dance Project I Fall, I Flow, I melt, Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir, Life After (ALD), Intimate Apparel, and more.

Melanie Spiel

Miri Henerson
Miri is a fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate in Theatre Design and Technology at Emerson College. She currently is a production assistant at Emerson College’s Office of the Arts, providing technical support for a variety of events and performances. Recent design credits include Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball at Sypher Arts Studio in Los Angeles, Marty and Tad are LIVING, Elephant’s Graveyard, and more. After graduation, she hopes to someday become a touring programmer for a band she is passionate about.

Mitchell Jakubka

Mitchell Jakubka
Mitchell is a Master of Fine Arts Lighting Design candidate at Carnegie Mellon University. Recent work includes three seasons as an electrician or programmer for California Shakespeare Theater, designing Desdemona’s Child (blood cry), Into the Woods, Cabaret, CMU’s New Works Series, and more. This coming Spring, he will be interning as an Assistant Lighting Director at the San Francisco Opera under Justin Partier. Upon graduation, he hopes to continue working for major repertory theater, dance, and opera companies, and writing about the history of lighting design.

Philip Vilar

Philip Vilar
Philip earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Design from State University of New York at New Paltz and has completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Stage Design at Southern Methodist University. They are particularly interested in pursuing a career in projection and media design. Recently, Philip worked on an art installation using virtual reality as a proof of concept for theatres engaging directors, designers, actors, and more by walking onto an empty stage with a VR headset to view a 3D rendered set design in full scale to open more communication among the creative team. Additional recent credits include The Diary of Anne Frank, Cosi Fan Tutte, The Immigrant, Smart People, Bethany, and more.

Qiaoyu Zhang

Qiaoyu Zhang
Qiaoyu was born and raised in China and is now studying lighting design at Carnegie Mellon University. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Cinematography. Her background in cinematic lighting gives her a unique perspective as she approaches theatrical lighting design. She hopes to continue her career as an international lighting designer in both the US and China. Recent design credits include Memory Habit, Something Massive Looms Overhead, Cosmo St. Charles is Dead, and The Gladiator.

Bill Rios

Bill Rios
A third year MFA candidate with an emphasis in lighting design at The University of Texas at Austin, Bill studies different ways to design lighting through interactive and immersive technology. He hopes to create new ways to shape lighting designs through traditional and non-traditional lighting control systems. His thesis examines how to embed the youth voice into his design process when creating theatre and immersive experiences for young people. Recent lighting design credits include Spring Awakening, Annie Salem, And The Horse You Rode In On, and more.

Slu Stone

Slu Stone
Slu just earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in lighting design at Wayne State University. She ran away with the circus at 16 and has pursued a life and career in the entertainment industry ever since. She has studied in Moscow, Russia, earning a Study Abroad Talent Award in 2019. Recent design credits include the Spring Dance Concert at the Bonstelle Theatre in Detroit, Sweat, Venus, Vanya & Sonya & Masha… and more.