By Rich Waterworth, General Manager, UK & EU, TikTok

There are plenty of things we're excited to get back to when life in lockdown ends. One of these will certainly be returning to our amazing theatres, where doors have been shut for almost a year, starving us all of their vibrant and vital cultural contribution.

At TikTok, it's been our privilege to have become a creative outlet for so many over the last year, from Andrew Lloyd Webber Duets, to Ratatouille the Musical reaching Broadway, and the formation of #Bridgertonthemusical, through to the Musical Theatre Challenge.

It's an industry we have been determined to support, which is why four months ago we joined forces with the London Evening Standard to announce the Future Theatre Fund, a major initiative created to help kickstart the careers of 12 emerging theatre talents across different disciplines, representing the very best of future British theatre makers.

As one of the judges - alongside the Evening Standard and industry heavyweights such as Paul Roseby OBE of the National Youth Theatre, Helen McCrory OBE, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Giles Terera MBE - I've loved watching the many incredible applicants. With such a high standard of entries, it's been a real challenge to whittle it down to 10 worthy winners from the nominated theatre schools and institutions, as well as two recipients of the inaugural TikTok Breakout Star Award, a first of its kind award which gives funding to those who may not have received formal training in drama to begin their career in the arts.

Last night, in an evening of amazing West End performances from Six the Musical and Dear Evan Hansen, and presented by West End stars Aimie Atkinson and Layton Williams, we were delighted to announce the 12 future stars, including Jesse Chuku and Ewan Fellows as our first TikTok Breakout Star Award winners. Jesse is a former professional basketball player whose sporting career was put on hold during the pandemic, and who has turned his attention to TikTok and pursuing a career in acting. Ewan is a theatre maker and musical lover who uses his TikTok to share his creative ideas, and is currently working on his own original musical Alive in Wonderland.

We were seriously impressed by the raw talent, passion and drive the winners showed as they work to become a success in the industry. All 12 winners will receive £10,000 from the Fund, which will be managed by The Evening Standard, and mentoring to progress their careers in the theatre.

You can check out Jesse & Ewan's winning TikTok entries here:

Congratulations to all of our future stars. We hope the Fund continues to support a sector that makes a vital contribution to the social and cultural fabric of the nation, at a time when we need the next generation of theatre makers more than ever.

The full list of the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund winners are:

Acting: Selina Jones & Adam Fenton

Audio Design: Francesca Amewudah-Rivers & Nicola Chang

Directing & Theatre Making: Jamie Hale & Omar Bynon

Musical Theatre: Beth Hinton-Lever & Emily Aboud

Visual Design: Caitlin Mawhinney & Nikki Charlesworth

TikTok Breakout Star: Jesse Chuku & Ewan Fellows

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