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We’re delighted to announce our esteemed panel of judges for this year’s Spotlight Prize

The Spotlight Prize is our annual showcase that helps to launch the careers of outstanding graduates, offering them a platform to raise their profile within the industry and to win a cash prize.

This year one of the 20 graduates nominated by their drama schools will take away the prize for Best Actor (Stage) and Best Actor (Screen), each winning £2000 and join our alumni of previous winners.

This year’s judging panel continues to add to our distinguished list of former judges, which includes actors Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Jessica Hynes, Susan Wokoma, Alex Jennings, Gemma Chan, Rosamund Pike, Hayley Atwell, and Paapa Essiedu, as well as casting directors Lucy Bevan, Nina Gold, Fiona Weir and Shaheen Baig, to name but a few.

Without further ado, here are the Spotlight Prize 2023 judging panels.

Stage Judges

Our stage judges come with a huge wealth of experience across acting, casting, writing and directing. The panel will watch the nominee’s live performances at the Spotlight Prize and, ultimately, award one nominee the Best Actor (Stage) prize. This year’s judges are:

Dorothy Atkinson

Dorothy has a varied career spanning both stage and screen. Her most recent roles include ‘Betty Boothroyd’ in Stonehouse, directed by Jon S. Baird; ‘Jeanie Savage’ in The Gold, directed by Aneil Karia; and ‘Jessie Cole’ in Without Sin, directed by Al MaKay. She completed three seasons of Pennyworth as ‘Mary Pennyworth’ last year, and is well known for her role as ‘Pauline’ in the BAFTA-winning comedy Mum, written and directed by Stefan Golaszewski. Other recent series include: PistolMagpie Murders, All Creatures Great and Small, and Call the Midwife. She also worked on several projects with the late, great Victoria Wood, including Housewife 49 and That Day we Sang.

Dorothy frequently collaborates with director Mike Leigh, and received BIFA and National Film Awards Best Supporting Actress nominations for her role as ‘Hannah Danby’ in Mr Turner. Other films include: The Electrical Life of Louis WainPeterlooTopsy Turvy, and the upcoming Saltburn, written and directed by Emerald Fennel.

Dorothy began her theatre career working with Alan Ayckbourn at Stephen Joseph Theatre. She has since worked on multiple projects at the National Theatre, RSC, West End, and with Kneehigh Theatre’s Brief Encounter in the West End, St Anne’s Warehouse, and at Studio 54 on Broadway.

Dorothy is currently filming Joan, directed by Richard Laxton, and can be seen next in The Long Shadow, directed by Lewis Arnold.

Heather Basten

Heather Basten is a casting director for film, TV and theatre. Heather is known for casting the first UK TV series from A24, Dreaming Whilst Black. Other credits include upcoming Universal Pictures and Blumhouse’s feature Speak No Evil, and House of Spoils for Amazon Studios.

Theatre credits include Beneatha’s Place (The Young Vic), Every Leaf a Hallelujah (Regent’s Park Open Air), God of Carnage (Lyric Hammersmith), and Red Pitch (Bush Theatre).

Her casting recognitions include winning a CDG Award, a nomination for a Casting Society of America Artios Award, BAFTA Breakthrough, and being named a ‘Screen Star of Tomorrow’.

Juliet Cowan

Juliet has just wrapped an exciting role on the Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black. She can most recently be seen as ‘Barbara Monke’ in Amazon’s The Power, as well as a strong supporting role for Daisy May Cooper’s Am I Being Unreasonable? on BBC and Hat Trick’s Stuck, alongside Morgana Robinson. She also starred as ‘Bel Powley’s mum’ in the BBC series Everything I Know About Love, and is reprising her role in Back To Life (season 2), as well as I Hate Suzie, starring Billie Piper. In addition, she has recently wrapped on Culprits for Disney+ and a role on Flatshare, which is now out on Paramount+, based on the bestselling Beth O’Leary book.

Rosalind Eleazar

Rosalind graduated from LAMDA in 2015, and went on to win the Spotlight Prize that same year. Since then, she has gone on to star as ‘Louisa Guy’ in Slow Horses for Apple TV, ‘Yelena’ in Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre, and ‘Agnes’ in Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield. Other credits include: Master of NoneBreedersDeep WaterHarlotsLoreNational TreasureHolbyHowards EndRellik, and Class of ‘09. Rosalind also won the Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2021 for her role in Uncle Vanya.

Tracy Ifeachor

Tracy Ifeachor is a classically trained actor with over 15 years of experience working across the industry. Credits include: Treason (Netflix), Showtrial (BBC), Mayflies (BBC One), Star Wars Jedi: Survivor (PCAP game), Treadstone (Amazon), DC’s Legends of TomorrowThe Originals (CW), Strike Back (HBO), Doctor WhoWelcome to Thebes (NT), and Raisin in the Sun (Royal Exchange).

Tracy was honoured with the prestigious Honorary Fellowship Award in 2022  for her services to the students and young professionals at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is an elected BAFTA Board member, and is excited about her first US Studio movie appearance, in Timothée Chalamet’s Wonka later in this year. Tracy is passionate about championing the next generation of artists.

Theo Park

Theo comes from a background in production and agenting. Once an associate of Nina Gold, Theo has cast wide and varied projects such as Sightseers and High Rise, both directed by Ben Wheatley; Paddington, directed by Paul King; and Far From the Madding Crowd, directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Recent film credits include Amazon’s The People We Hate at the Wedding and the Netflix original Calibre. Recent TV credits include Ted Lasso for Warner Bros/Apple (for which she won an Emmy), Master of None (season 3), directed by Aziz Ansari, and Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Olivia Scott-Webb

Olivia worked with the director and writer Scott Frank on his acclaimed Netflix TV series The Queen’s Gambit and with writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge on series 2 of her award-winning show Fleabag. For both of these projects, Olivia received Emmy awards for outstanding casting.

Olivia’s recent credits include Joanna Hogg’s films The Souvenir and The Souvenir: Part II, the first of which won the World Cinema award at Sundance and starred Honor Swinton Byrne in her first breakout role; The Gold, a BBC and Paramount+ drama series; and the feature film Ballerina for Lionsgate.

Olivia is currently working on Scott Frank’s new TV series, the second series of The Gold and a feature film for Number 9 Films.

Amit Shah

Amit Shah graduated from LAMDA in 2003, and has worked extensively in theatre, film and TV since. Amit is known for playing a wide range of characters on British television, including troubled pharmacist ‘Faisal’ in the final series of Happy Valley, the much-loved regular role of ‘Fred’ in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Crashing, as well as appearing in Netflix’s The Witcher, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for BBC and HBO.

On the big screen, Amit will soon be seen in the upcoming Netflix feature Pain Hustlers, directed by David Yates. Further film credits include Ordinary LoveThe Hundred Foot Journey and Johnny English Strikes Again. On stage, Amit has appeared in The Alchemist (National Theatre), The Man of Mode (National Theatre), and King Lear (Donmar Warehouse). He will soon be seen at Chichester Festival Theatre in a leading role in Deborah Frances-White’s debut play Never Have I Ever.

Rachel Sheridan

Rachel Sheridan is a casting director working primarily in TV. Recent shows include the upcoming Partygate (Channel 4), One Day (Netflix), Men Up (BBC), Such Brave Girls (BBC), and Horseface (Apple). Previous credits include BAFTA-nominated Big Boys (Channel 4), BAFTA-winning In My Skin (BBC), BAFTA-winning The Left Behind (BBC), and Feel Good (Channel 4).

Nathan Toth

Nathan Toth is a casting director at Harkin & Toth Casting – the award-winning casting team behind projects such as I May Destroy YouIndustry and The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself. Yet to be released projects include an adaptation of Amor Towles’ best-selling novel A Gentleman in Moscow starring Ewan McGregor, and a television prequel to the Dune franchise for HBO Max. Nathan started working with Julie Harkin in 2017, and Harkin & Toth Casting was formed in 2022.

Screen Judges

Since 2016, leading industry figures have judged screen performances of the Spotlight Prize monologues. Our panel of casting directors have hugely successful careers, working across a varied range of television and feature films and will be awarding the prize to one of the nominees for Best Actor (Screen).

Nicky Bligh

Nicky is an experienced TV and film casting director who has worked with many of the UK’s well-known production companies, including Merman, Roughcut, Baby Cow, Tiger Aspect, Hat Trick, Universal Films, Avalon, BBC Studios and more. She has cast award-winning comedies and comedy-drama shows for broadcasters and SVODS, including ITV, BBC, FX, Channel 4 and Sky.

Recent credits include: Dreamland (Sky/Merman), Things You Should Have Done (BBC/Roughcut), the BAFTA-winning Stath Lets Flats (Channel 4/Rough Cut), Buffering (Avalon/ITV2), Better Things – UK casting (FX/Hulu/BBC), Chivalry (Baby Cow/Channel 4 with co-casting director Catherine Willis), Bad Education (Tiger Aspect/BBC), Sandylands (King Bert/UKTV), and Home (Channel 4/ChannelX) – RTS winner for Best Comedy Performance for Youssef Kerkour.

Olivia Brittain

Olivia Brittain is a film and TV casting director and associate. She spent close to a decade working with award winning casting director Jina Jay across projects including Enola Holmes and Black Mirror for Netflix, Halo for Paramount as co-casting director, The Night Manager and The Little Drummer Girl for BBC/AMC, Dune (UK Casting), and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for LucasFilm. After two years in Seoul working on international casting for South Korean projects, she’s now back in London as a casting freelancer on independent cinema, studio film and shorts.

Denise Chamian

Denise Chamian began her career in the entertainment industry at a boutique agency. It wasn’t until she started working for luminary casting directors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins that she found her true calling. From there she went on to start her own company and has worked with such distinguished directors as Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Tony Scott, Tim Burton, Gore Verbinski, William Friedkin, Michael Bay, Francis Lawrence, and Joseph Kosinski, among many others.

Recent credits include The Old Man (starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow), Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of CuriositiesTop Gun: Maverick, and Elvis, for which she won the 2023 BAFTA Film Award for Best Casting. Additional upcoming credits include the Netflix feature film Atlas, starring Jennifer Lopez and directed by Brad Peyton, as well as the Apple TV+ series Chief of War, starring Jason Momoa.

Kate Dowd

Kate Dowd is an international casting director based in London, with over 30 years experience in the business. Starting her career at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, she then made her way across the pond to London. After working in both theatre and film in London for several years, she spent five years in Paris working on a number of prestigious US, European and British films. Returning to London, Kate continued to work internationally, and has cast major feature films and television projects.

Her extensive credits include feature films such as Finding NeverlandThe Kite RunnerNever Let Me GoWorld War ZThe Book ThiefMe Before YouEye in the Sky, and Official Secrets. Other film work as a UK casting director includes: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black PearlThe Bourne IdentityGangs of New YorkMoulin Rouge, and Mad Max: Fury Road. TV credits include: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for Amazon, Shantaram for Apple TV, and the upcoming Fallen for Silver Reel.

She also served as a UK casting consultant for five years on Warner Bros TV and ABC pilot season. Upcoming film credits include White Bird (director Marc Forster) for Lionsgate, and Better Man (director Michael Gracey).

Victor Jenkins

Victor started his casting career working for Lucinda Syson on feature films Troy and Alexander. A little side-step into indie film, working on It’s All Gone Pete Tong, was followed by the opportunity to be the in-house casting director for Hewland International, where he spent three years, mainly working on Sky One’s football drama Dream Team (seasons 8-10). He then went on to become casting associate to the late Carrie Hilton, and then Gary Davy.

In 2010, he set up VHJ Casting with Kelly Valentine Hendry, which cast many multi-award-winning shows, including BroadchurchThe Last KingdomHumansThe Wrong Mans (episodes 2-5), and Fleabag. In 2017, he went solo and set up VJC, where his first project was Netflix/BBC’s Troy: Fall of a City, followed by World on FireThe SplitLeonardoThe RookDjango, and more. Recent film work includes The BubbleFlowers, and he’s about to work on his eighth project with director Lewis Arnold. Previous collaborations include Cleaning UpDark Money, award-winning Des, and the multi-award-winning Sherwood.

Alongside this, he also helms The Casting Office Ltd with fellow CD Andy Brierley. Joint projects include The WatchThe Swarm, and The Undeclared War.

Kirsty Kinnear

After graduating in Drama from the University of Birmingham and Webber Douglas Academy, Kirsty moved into casting, where she has been working for nearly two decades, predominantly on studio and independent films. Initially an associate to Kate Dowd, she then became associate and later partner to Susie Figgis, who she continues to collaborate with, alongside her own projects. Credits include: Fast XLove AgainA Boy Called ChristmasBlinded by the LightThe Song of Names, and, as associate: Bohemian RhapsodyDumboMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenColette and Tomb Raider.

Sarah Leung

Sarah was born in Manchester, coming from a mixed British/Chinese background, making her one of the only casting directors in the UK with Chinese heritage. She started her career in film as assistant to producer Larry Franco on Batman Begins, and was later asked to return on post-production as assistant to Emma Thomas (wife of director Christopher Nolan). From here, Sarah moved into casting, assisting in film (Warner Bros, Universal), TV (BBC, ITV, Channel 4), and theatre in the West End, London.

Most recently, she was casting director on Past Life with Emile Hirsch, To Wong Foo by Douglas Carter Beane, George Takei’s Allegiance, and two East/Sky TV projects.

Frank Moiselle

Frank began his career in casting as casting assistant to Nuala Moiselle on John Huston’s feature film adaptation of James Joyce’s The Dead. As a casting director, he has worked with acclaimed directors such as Jim Sheridan (The Secret Scripture and In America), Joel Schumacher (Veronica Guerin), Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur), Gillies MacKinnon (Tara Road), and Neil Jordan (Ondine). For TV, he has cast Ballykissangel (BBC), The TudorsThe Borgias and Penny Dreadful (Showtime), Vikings (History/MGM), Sanctuary (AMC), and Vikings Valhalla (Netflix/MGM).

Frank is a fellow of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland. He also holds a Higher Diploma in Education from the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin, and is a three-time, prime time Emmy nominee for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.

Susan Shopmaker

Susan Shopmaker is an independent casting director based in New York City. In 2018, she won the Casting Society of America’s Artios Award for Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats, and previously she won an Artios Award for Sean Durkin’s acclaimed Sundance drama Martha Marcy May Marlene. She was also nominated for Darius Marder’s Academy Award-winning film Sound of MetalGoat (Andrew Neel), James White (Josh Mond), Afterschool (Antonio Campos), and Disney’s Enchanted.

In 2021-2022, Susan cast Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s La Cocina, Michel Franco’s Memory, and Sean Durkin’s The Iron Claw.

She also cast Paul Schrader’s First ReformedThe Card Counter, and worked on his latest, The Master Gardener. Susan also cast John Cameron Mitchell’s cult classic Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Slattery’s God’s Pocket and Maggie Moore(s), and Michel Franco’s Chronic (Cannes 2015 award winner and 2017 Spirit Award nominee), Franco’s Sundown (2021), and The Nest for Sean Durkin.

Television work includes the Amazon series Dead Ringers, and both seasons of Terence Nance’s Random Acts of Flyness for HBO.

Meredith Tucker

Meredith Tucker is a New York-based casting director. Credits include The White Lotus (Emmy win), Boardwalk Empire (Emmy win and nomination), Veep (Emmy win and nomination/New York Casting) and White House Plumbers for HBO; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Emmy Nomination) and the upcoming The Residence for Netflix; Godfather of Harlem for MGM+; and Defending Jacob for Apple TV+. Recent film highlights are Eighth GradeBrad’s StatusBeatriz at DinnerIrresistible, and Set It Up.

Prior to breaking out on her own, she worked for Walken/Jaffe Casting on The Sopranos from season 3 on, and co-cast seasons 1 and 2 of Entourage (Emmy nomination). She also worked for casting director Howard Feuer on films helmed by directors such as Jonathan Demme, Alan Parker, Tom Hanks, Peter Weir, Barbet Schroeder, Harold Ramis, and Gus Van Sant.

The Spotlight Prize will take place on Tuesday 18 July in central London.

Find out more about The Spotlight Prize and its previous winners.

Hero photo credit: Joanna Nicole Photography

Headshot credits:

Tracy Ifeachor headshot by David Reiss 

Amit Shah headshot by Jon Holloway

Dorothy Atkinson by Ruth Crafer

Rosalind Eleazar by Simon Annand

Juliet Cowan by Ruth Crafar