Hello Leeds: Local performing arts academy teaming up with Coronation Street star to offer 50 per cent scholarship

A Leeds performing arts academy is teaming up with a Coronation Street star to offer local children a chance at a one year 50 per cent scholarship.

By Alex Grant
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 4:45 am
The LB Academy here in Leeds will be joining forces with Coronation Street's Alexandra Mardell. Picture: LB ACADEMY.
The LB Academy here in Leeds will be joining forces with Coronation Street's Alexandra Mardell. Picture: LB ACADEMY.

The LB Academy here in Leeds will be joining forces with Coronation Street's Alexandra Mardell.

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The Agency was founded by Craig Womersley in 2017 and having set up base in Bramley are looking to expand with the opening of a new venue in South Leeds.

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For founder Craig acting can be more than just a hobby and he is keen to help children realise their dream. Picture: LB ACADEMY.

To celebrate their expansion they will be hosting open days at both venues next month, supported by Alexandra Mardell, who will selecting two people from each venue to receive a one year 50 per cent scholarship.

Speaking to the YEP, founder Craig explained how a key focus is simply getting children to open again following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We've always had quite high numbers but then obviously through Covid we had to move online and the numbers dropped." he explained. "After Covid we have lost a lot but the ones that did comeback are like totally different kids, the whole pandemic has just had such a massive mental impact on the young ones."

After specialising in Casting at the Northern Film School, Craig graduated in 2014 and went on to work as an AD in the TV industry and a number of production based roles within the industry before returning home to Bramley to set up his own casting agency.

For Craig acting can be more than just a hobby and he is keen to help children realise their dream.

"Today for example we have a child in the final round of auditions to be the lead in a new children's drama and that is an opportunity that if we weren't here he wouldn't be offered." he explained.

"It can be more than just a hobby and for a student who comes here, excels and works hard we have the facilities to put them forward for castings that could open up so many opportunities for them."

Now as the agency looks to expand Craig explained that his friendship with Alexandra Mardell, known for playing Emma Brooker on the ITV soap, opened the door for the star to become involved.

"I'm good friends with Alexandra and she was there for our original opening in 2017 so has always been supportive of the academy." he explained.

"Her presence helps as people want to meet her, she's got great experience and she started where these children started in a local performing arts school."

A central aspect to the performing arts is confidence and Craig spoke about how important it is for any child.

"We always say that there are two types of children that join us. A parent would bring their child and say 'oh they're a drama queen take them' or they will say 'there really lacking in confidence' and it tends to be those with the low confidence that end up shining through.

"There is nothing more rewarding than watching a child's confidence come on and grow through our classes." he added.

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