Shontandria Kemp: Merlin Works newest diversity scholarship recipient

Shontandria Kemp is the most recent Merlin Works student to be awarded the Diversity Scholarship. Merlin Works Diversity Scholarship was created to foster diversity both onstage and off. It primarily aims to further open the world of Austin Improv to people of color, though individuals who identify with any minority background, culture, or community are welcome to apply.

The single mother of two forayed into acting last year while supporting her daughter’s efforts to pursue acting. “I sacrificed my love for acting long ago to raise my children,” she wrote. “I’ve always had a love for improv shows and upon taking your (Merlin Works) intro class, I knew that this was the direction I wanted to take.”

She is interested in television and film, but says she feels that improv is the best fit for her and would like to become a part of the thriving and growing improv community in Austin.

Shontandria is a self-employed massage therapist in Houston, which affords her the scheduling flexibility to pursue her renewed passion. The diversity scholarship would help her offset some of the costs to pursue her dream.

“The diversity I feel I represent is not only based on the fact that I’m a minority, but I also represent the percentage of the circumstantial population who had given up on a dream….but the dream did not give up on them. My experiences in life, both good and bad, that have brought to this very moment, have made me a comedian in order to survive! I feel free and it gives me life when I can make myself and others laugh.”


About Karina

Karina Dominguez is the registrar and assistant to the Dean of Merlin Works Institute of Improvisation. She graduated from the Merlin Works program in December 2011 with three performances of "The Amazing Improvised Race." She is a full-time actor with commercial credits such as Burger King, Ford, Totino's, H-E-B and various departments for the State of Texas. She was last seen in the opening episode of the second season of "American Crime", and as the welcome video ranger in the second season of HBO's "The Leftovers". She also performs on-stage in various Austin, TX plays including for Capital T Theatre, The Vortex, Vestige Group, Pollyanna Theater among others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.