The Second City announces winners of the Victor Wong Fellowship

Legendary Chicago comedy institution The Second City announces the second annual Victor Wong Fellowship, a program to train and mentor up-and-coming Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) comedic talent.

Named for The Second City’s first Asian American performer and funded by the family foundation of Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, the fellowship will focus on developing the next generation of AAPI talent both on stage and behind the scenes. The Victor Wong Fellowship is the first program by a major comedy theatre to exclusively endow AAPI talent.

The 2024 Victor Wong Fellows, selected for their exceptional talent and unique voices, are:
Ian Voltaire Deanes
Grace Goze
Robert Kalia Kapaku
Devin Jeong-Wright
Johanna Medrano
Esther Oh
Brian Park
Frederic Powers
Ateeq Rehman
Becca Nix Tham

Victor Wong Fellowship

Under the Program Leadership of Jonald Reyes and Showcase Director Evan Mills, with Sophia Rafiqi as Assistant Director, Renee Hansel as Production Manager, and Music Director Maya Tanaka Allwardt the fellows will embark on an in-depth master program in improvisation and comedy that will conclude with a series of public and industry showcases scheduled for May 7, 14, 21 and 30, 2024.

“Beyond professional success on stage and screen, the skills of improvisation are a kind of super-power for life,” said Parisa Jalili, COO of The Second City. “We are thrilled that this gift will allow us to train emerging AAPI talent to both hone their comedy skills as well as their skills to be deeply collaborative, resilient, and creative individuals.”

“Comedy connects us by validating our shared experiences and opening our minds to new ones,” said Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen. “Further diversifying the comedic community will help move this important medium—and the society it serves—forward. We are excited to help bring the unique perspectives of AAPI talent to the stage.”

The Second City is excited to set the stage for this new era of comedic talent and amplify the voices of the AAPI community.