Introduced for the first time this year, The Disney Scholarship is the inaugural scholarship programme Hong Kong Disneyland has offered Hong Kong students. Earlier in October, 12 students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) were awarded the prestigious scholarship for their skill, talent, artistic excellence and enthusiasm in the performing arts.
Providing full tuition support for awardees, the scholarship is funded by Disney Worldwide Outreach, an extension of the Walt Disney Company aiming to make dreams come true through financial support and volunteerism. Annie Wharmby, director of show operations, Hong Kong Disneyland, remarks, "Disney is dedicated to supporting talent development. Hong Kong Disneyland is proud to be honouring such fine tradition by offering the scholarship to those with a passion for pursuing a career in the performing arts."
Disney stage productions are renowned for successfully animating fairy tales and ensuring audiences are stimulated by a fun-filled experience. With immense entertainment activities on offer, Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the major employers of performing and entertainment professionals in Hong Kong.
According to Ms Wharmby, the park has entered a three-year internship agreement with the HKAPA in view of the potential benefits to all parties involved.
Kevin Thompson, director of the HKAPA says, "The scholarship helps nurture creative talents and cultural software for the city. Hong Kong Disneyland also provides a platform where our graduates can develop their professionalism."
The 12 awardees specialised in dance, drama, music and technical and entertainment arts. Yuen Wai-ying, one of the awardees and a current drama student says, "I appreciate Disney's efforts to offer artists the opportunity to develop. We attended interviews with the management of both the HKAPA and Disney where we were encouraged to articulate our artistic strengths and career plans."
Both onstage and backstage positions are available at Hong Kong Disneyland. Backstage opportunities expose recruits to many of the best practices necessary for five-star productions. Phyllis Kei, parades production stage manager at Hong Kong Disneyland and a graduate of the HKAPA, adds that the employment experience at Disney is invaluable. She says, "Working at Disney is an eye opening experience. On the one hand, I can apply theoretical knowledge from school to the work environment; conversely, Disney organises many practical development opportunities including overseas training, to complement the team's established knowledge and skills."
Another cast member, Laertes Wong is a trained dancer from the HKAPA. He notes that the park is able to provide the requisite job satisfaction for a performer. "There is always a large, applauding audience. Together with cutting-edge stage technology and the artistic skill of the ensemble, every show is a fulfilling experience," says Mr Wong.
Becoming a successful cast member at Disney, nevertheless, requires certain attributes. Ms Wharmby notes, "We want people with talent, artistic skills and a positive attitude."