Deanna Stewart is a senior at Illinois State University, where she is completing a Bachelor of Arts in acting from the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts. She has taken advantage of the opportunities to hone her craft on the stage with such roles as Tiresias in Oedipus, John the Baptist/Judas in Godspell, Nurse Ruth Kelly in Harvey (Irene Ryan Nomination), and Bernarda in The House of Bernarda Alba (Irene Ryan Nomination).

Stewart currently serves as the president of Black Artists League, head director of the Interdenominational Youth Choir, and served as emcee for this year’s BCA scholarship breakfast. After graduation, she will be based in her hometown of Chicago where she will kick off her acting career in the prestigious Chicago Theatre District.

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Deanna Stewart in “The House of Bernarda Alba,” written by Federico Garcia Lorca, adapted by Emily Mann Director: Robert Quinlan Dramaturg: Bruce Burningham Photographer: Kayla Sanders Lighting Designer: Cambry Wade Scenic Designer: Jordan Gerow Sound Designer: Grace Leali Hair & Make-up Artisan: Torrey Mebust Costume Designer: Lauren M. Lowell Stage Manager: Jenny Goyer

In the past year, Stewart experienced highs and lows in her pursuit of a career. During the summer she and her family lost their home to a fire. With that, all of their belongings were destroyed including her laptop. Stewart said, “I worried about how to replace my laptop and even trying to figure out if I would be able to keep up with classes without one.”

Thankfully, through continuous hard work and dedication to her academics, Stewart received the Judge Russell DeBow Scholarship by the Illinois State University Black Colleagues Association. With the generous contribution, she was able to purchase a new laptop. Stewart said, “I am forever thankful to ISUBCA and the alumni and friends who continuously contribute to this scholarship to invest in the future of students like me.” Hear more from Stewart in the video above, and learn how to make a gift to continue to help future BCA scholarship recipients.