Scholarship Winner: Thoa Nguyen
School: University of Texas at Austin
“The last four years have been both challenging but rewarding on so many different levels. During that time, I’ve pursued art direction and production design for film actively and have worked on about 20 short films, many of which were graduate students’ thesis and pre-thesis films. I have interned for an Indie feature film as a set dresser and had the opportunity to work with an amazing art team from which I learned so much. Additionally, I interned for Austin Film Festival and volunteered to assist kids’ summer film camps. A couple of the films I worked on have even gotten into local film festivals like the University’s Texas Union Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival. One of the highlights of my time at UT was the transformative experience in my scenic painting and figure painting classes. Through both classes, I was able to revisit my love for painting while learning to paint large format scenery for theater and paint figures from life for the first time. This allowed me to enter a design competition for UT Austin and St. Edward University students last winter. I led a team in designing, constructing, and setting up a holiday window display for a boutique in downtown Austin. Our team won first place, which included a scholarship.
“The ATG scholarship no doubt aided my financial ability to even go to UT Austin, but more than that, the scholarship reassured me that even as a woman of color, an underrepresented part of an overwhelmingly white patriarchal film/media industry, I have just as much right to be apart of the film department as anyone else. And furthermore, I feel empowered to stand up for others like me and speak out against the misogyny and racism that is sometimes expressed in a white male dominated sphere. ATG supports people who feel like they struggle to find a voice in a space not traditionally meant for them. I truly feel like the support from ATG and the scholarship has given me the confidence and inspiration to thrive on film sets and at UT Austin and take that beyond into my career after graduation. Now I don’t feel like a fish swimming against the current, but rather, one carving out my own path along that current.”