Our Summer 2020 Diversity Scholarship recipient: Pamela Paek

The Merlin Works Diversity Scholarship primarily aims to further open the world of Austin Improv to persons of color, though individuals who identify with any underprivileged background, culture, or community are welcome to apply.

Pamela Paek is the recipient of our Early Summer 2020 scholarship.

“I want to make time and space to self-express and own what’s true for me: to play in spaces where I normally don’t make time for myself to do so. I need to find a sense of lightness and freedom as I’m feeling especially weighed down lately because so many well-intentioned white people finally seeing what has been a constant in BIPOC lives,” she said.

Pamela feels a need to have a space to play and let go. She really loves short-form improv, but because of her work commitments was unable to continue on from the 101 class she took a while back. She has also also completed four levels at Second City Chicago, as well as the first intro level at The Groundlings and UCB-LA.

“As a queer woman of color who does work in public schools around the country to highlight diversity, inclusion, and equity issues, especially when it comes to race, class, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, among others, my role is to empower historically underrepresented youth, by helping them find and own their voice. I tend to give that space to others but not myself,” she said.

Her continuing search for space to play also comes at a time when there is so much social and political upheaval affecting BIPOCs.

“Every day I’m holding my tongue and being calm so people can vent and scream and cry, and I help them process, while feeling this seething sense of being tamped down, where I need to be “the good” person helping people really look,” she said.

“And, holding the mirror up for white people to own their privilege, that they are fortunate that they can take a break from this, that this stuff is infuriating and devastating, sitting in the utter despair and helplessness – I want there to be an understanding that all their feelings are valid, AND it’s not just about it being hard right now and trying hard right now. It’s the constant trying and working through that BIPOCs are always in, and if they want to share that space with us, it’s NOT about getting recognition for the effort and hard work only at this moment. It’s ever present. That’s part of our existence until we level up humanity,” she said.

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.

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