2019 AIN Conference Scholarship Awardees

This year, the committee received extensive and detailed applications from nineteen different people from all over the globe, representing an incredible array of backgrounds, nationalities, experiences, lifestyles, and focuses.

Oluwadamilola Apotieri-Abdulai is a confidence coach and communication skills trainer dedicated to bringing effective change to individuals and organizations through theatre and improv.  He runs an improv group from Nigeria, West Africa with an eye on the whole region supporting other young people in setting up their improv companies. Damilola has a passion for using improv for post conflict recovery for children and their caregivers, this he has been able to achieve with his not-for-profit, Playback Nigeria.’





Minder Athwal Minder is a British Indian Improviser based in Nottingham, UK.  After gaining experience as a performer and sitting on the executive team of one of the longest running improvisation theatres in the UK, Minder was drawn to applied improvisation after seeing how relevant it is to the skills as well as the work and life experiences she has had in her varied career. These areas of interest include the internationalisation of higher education, employability skills, mental health, and service design thinking. 

She is now an Old Vic Theatre trained workshop facilitator with a particular interest in inclusion and increasing diversity. This year she spoke on the topic of racism and challenges facing BAME improvisers in the UK at the Global Improvisation Symposium.

Outside of improvisation, Minder is part of the all female theatre collective – “The Party Somewhere Else” and also works and a marketing and event planning freelancer.



Gail Burton grew up in East Harlem NYC and currently lives in Providence, RI. She is an educator, theater practitioner and Joker of Theater of the oppressed. She is a member of the facilitation collective, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) and studied as a Joker under the guidance of Marie-Claire Picher and Augusto Boal. Additionally, she has trained Jokers of Theater of the Oppressed nationally through the TOPLAB facilitation training program, and internationally for the Federation of Senegalese Theater of the Oppressed groups. She has facilitated workshops for hundreds of participants since beginning to practice theater of the oppressed techniques in 2006.  Recently, she became a core group member of the Water Is Life campaign—Land and Water Sovereignty Project to fight the monetization and privatization of water in RI.




Eddie Jjemba is an Urban Resilience Advisor at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre based in Uganda. Eddie supports the Climate Centre’s urban resilience initiatives in Africa. This includes facilitating participatory games, dialogues and trainings aimed at addressing climate risks for cities. Before joining the Climate Centre, Eddie managed projects focused in experiential learning and urban disaster risk management in Uganda. Eddie’s work is informed by Masters degrees in Climate and Society from Columbia University, New York City.

I, Luntu Masiza, am a South African born actor who relocated to England at the age of ten. It was in the tenth grade I first discovered my passion for the arts and I went on to obtain my first Diploma in Performing Arts. Thereafter, I enrolled at Dudley College and studied a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts Drama and later relocated back to South Africa where I furthered my studies and started a company.  Throughout my journey I have performed and written plays that have been featured in various festivals such as the Edinburgh festival in Scotland, West End in London, Baxter’s Theatre Zabalaza Festival in South Africa to name a few. My accolades amongst others include the Fleur Du Cup for Best Promising Student in the Western Cape (South Africa), the Setkani/Encounter Theatre Director’s Special Award (Czech Republic) and Best Male Performance on a stage production and Best Male Performance in a television production at the end of my studies at AFDA (The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance).  Last but not least I run a company “Changing Your Business Through Theatre” that focuses on facilitating workshops in customer driven environments to build staff confidence, interpersonal abilities and other soft skills through workshops that incorporate theatre and team building techniques.


Ria Vita Puangco is a strategist with strong exposure in communications, market research, and business consulting. She is expanding her field of expertise to include the study of empathy in organizations. From her first Improv class, an instinct for improv theater’s application to various aspects of work and life was awakened. She started working with Third World Improv, learning Applied Improvisation by assisting other more senior members, as well as lending her corporate experience to program design and facilitation work. She hopes to be a certified Applied Improv Consultant someday, successfully bringing the inspiration of Improv to as many of her clients as possible. 





Lilith Elektra Zarling is an improv performer, teacher and show producer currently living in Richmond, VA.  In her nearly two decades in improv she has produced improvised sitcoms and documentaries, conceived of and starred in her own one-person sketch and improv shows and taught and directed countless students on house teams, in workshops and at business conferences and events.  She also teaches intro improv workshops for trans and non-binary people, volunteers with trans youth and runs a comedy camp in rural Alabama that focuses on building leadership skills and using comedy for social activism.  Currently, Lilith tours the country with her improvised one person show- Wisconsin Laugh Trip.