Meet The 2024 Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship Recipients

July 10, 2024

Congratulations to the outstanding theatre design students who are the recipients of the 2024 Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarships, awarded annually since 2019 in partnership with TSDCA (Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association) and USITT. The scholarships are worth up to $5,000 for each student and are funded by LDI and Live Design to support talent from underrepresented backgrounds in the field of entertainment design.

The Diversity In Design Scholarships are part of LDI's Foster the Future Program, which comprises the Pat MacKay Diversity in Design Scholarship, the LDI and DSE Production Assistant Program, and the Young Career Professionals Program, which includes access to both show expo halls, an LDInnovation Conference badge and special events for those ages 18-25. Find more info on Foster The Future here and register for LDI 2024 here.


This year's Diversity In Design Scholarships attracted a record number of applications which were whittled down to five by our team of judges: Jordan Gilliam, director of education at Tech25; lighting designer and project manager Ebony Madry; visual designer Roma Flowers; video artist and theatrical designer Rasean Davonté Johnson and Pat MacKay, former publisher of Theatre Crafts International (TCI) and Lighting Dimensions and founder of the LDI Trade Show & Conference

Through the TSDCA, Focusrite Group will be awarding you a prize package worth over $1000 to the two sound recipients this year. The package includes: Focusrite 2i2 Studio (value $299.99); FocusriteCM25 Mk2 Condenser mic (value $99.99); Focusrite SH-450 Headphones (value $49.99); Adam Audio T5V (pair) studio monitors (value $399.99); Novation Launchkey 37 (value $199.99).

And the recipients are...

Kadynce Morton
(Kadynce Morton)

Kadynce Morton

Kadynce Morton will begin studying Theatre Design, Production, and Management with an emphasis in Lighting Design at Boston University in the fall. In Boston, she hopes to make the most of any internship and networking opportunities and is interested in all aspects of theatrical production and becoming a well-rounded technician. Her goal is to work as the lighting designer for a touring Broadway production and she is hoping to work her way up to that by working as a lighting technician or board operator before taking on larger projects.

Morton's design style has been influenced by many designers but thinks that Natasha Katz's lighting deepens the story and brings out the emotions in any production. She would love the opportunity to talk to her about her work and her experience of being a female lighting designer. She also says,  "Much of my motivation in this field comes from a desire to prove the gender stereotypes of the industry wrong, and I think what [Katz] could teach me about her experiences could be foundational in the rest of my career."

Trinity Joseph

Trinity Joseph
(Trinity Joseph)

A junior at Howard University, Trinity Joseph is looking forward to gaining more real-world experience before continuing her studies in lighting design at grad school. Eventually, Trinity would like to design for live theatre, concerts, and art installations and meld disciplines within visual media for performance. 

Joseph is excited to visit LDI 2024 as part of her award. She says, "As a soon-to-be-graduating senior, this experience will help to ease the fear of post grad plans. I previously went to the USITT Conference in Seattle for the first time this year, and I was able to network with many internship opportunities for the summer. She doesn't have a specific mentor in mind but is always looking for people with the same identities — Black Caribbean-American woman in addition to the LGBT community — who is driven and knowledgeable about the field and can give feedback to help her evolve as a designer.

Maribel Gutierrez
(Maribel Gutierrez)

Maribel Gutierrez

Maribel is a sophomore at Ball State University who is interested in designing for a wide range of different forms of live entertainment and venues, including New York theatre, art installations, fashion shows, circus, and cruise ships. She says, "I want to learn about the difference lighting can make and apply experience and skills learned from one type of theatre or performance to another."

Although she is primarily interested in design she is working toward understanding other areas of lighting, such as theatre electrician and programming, and would love to gain some experience working in those areas.  Some of the areas she is currently focusing on are learning EOS Systems, drafting with Vectorworks, and visualizing using Augment3d and similar programs.

Her dream mentor is Jessica Hung Han Yun because, "She has a formidable lighting design style and it is amazing to see the variety of works she has completed. I look up to her so much and admire her drive and accomplishments. It is extremely inspiring to see a woman of color receive the recognition and success that she has worked so hard to achieve."

Sound Design Recipients

Faye Widjaja
(Faye Widjaja)

Faye Widjaja

Faye Widjaja is studying for a degree in Theatre with an emphasis on Design & Production at UCLA. Widjaja says she would like to minor in Music Industry to further her skills in music production and sound design. She works as an Event Technician to provide audio visual support to hone her practical skills, but in the future, she would like to be part of new work that involves heavily composing and creating original music, sounds, and sequences. She says, "I am interested in the live modulation of elements such as synthesizers and samples of field recordings and its incorporation into more traditionally theatrical compositions and sound designs."

Widjaja is excited to go to LDI, "I will be sure to take full advantage of the LDI Trade Show & Conference to witness the newest technology, meet with the leaders who are paving the way in the entertainment design world, and learn about the possibilities this new technology can offer. I believe the experience will be invaluable."

If Widjaja could have any mentor in the industry it would be Tom Gibbons. She says, "I first saw his work in "Hamlet" at The Park Avenue Armory. I remember the day after, in my sound design class at NYU Tisch Summer High School, I talked obsessively about the subtle change in the soundscape when the source of the sound was uncovered after an actor moved a sliding door. While his style doesn't exactly match mine, I admire how immersive and thoughtful his work is."

Dana Freeman

Dana Freeman
(Dana Freeman)

Dana Freeman is studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance at Purchase College, SUNY where she believes learning extends beyond the classroom, being more than just teachers and textbooks. Learning can be looking at the back of a sound console in bewilderment to plugging in cables, lifting speakers, or getting feedback on drafting. Even more than technical knowledge, she sys, "I’m hoping to gain skills like learning to collaborate with others to create something larger than the individual." 

One of Dana's career goal is to explore telling stories through sound. "I think sound is a unique and powerful medium that can really help create the world of a play and also connect with the audience emotionally," she says, "I believe art is an invitation and I’d like to use sound to invite the audience to engage with a show."

Freeman was inspired by seeing Hadestown on Broadway in 2022, "I was blown away by the sound. It felt to me that it supported the story so well that they were synonymous. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to see it again and every time I’ve seen it, it sounds the same no matter where I’m sitting, which is such a remarkable feat. Because of that show, a dream mentor would be the sound designer Jessica Paz."

In addition to the two scholarship recipients for sound, there are five special mentions in the category: Melli Monk, Irene Wang, Ari Klopfer, Lacey Vailikit, and Jesslynn Hurtado.

About the Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarships

The scholarships are named for Pat MacKay, former publisher of Theatre Crafts International (TCI) and Lighting Dimensions and founder of the LDI trade show. She is a USITT Fellow and has mentored multiple generations of industry professionals. The Diversity In Design Scholarships were introduced in 2019 to support the diverse and unique voices in the field of entertainment design and are presented to undergraduate students.