Rory Shirley, 19 – FUNDED

Rory Shirley is currently a sophomore musical theatre major at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and she is passionate about focusing her work on women of color while also celebrating joy! “As a Black woman, I’m tired of being used only for my trauma,” says this Paliwal Club of 100 Music Scholars Fund winner.

What is your professional dream?

I hope to — no — I PLAN to be a performer in original musicals and plays, but I also want to be a playwright where I create works that focus on the joy of minorities and also mental health in the Black community.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

Receiving this grant means a great deal to me. Because of it, I’m able to continue school this semester and continue working on my scripts. This award came at the perfect time. I was about to accept that I might not be able to finish this semester.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

By having grants and organizations just like this! This actually saved me. It made me see that what I want isn’t just what I want. It’s what others want, as well, but they just don’t have the resources to do it or the representation to be encouraged.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Other than financial disadvantages, it’s the fact that the musicals still don’t represent what I want. I want to see a musical that is produced, directed, written, and more by women, by people of color. That’s what’s setting me back and challenging me.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

It means I can continue learning and improving myself so that, when the times comes, I can be the best of the best and I can inspire others who don’t see what they’re looking for to create it.