SA star’s appeal for funding to shine at Ivy League drama school

South Africa has an incredible wealth of world-class talent in many fields, including the arts. Sadly, a lack of funding is still a major hurdle for many of our shining stars.

Kineta Kunutu is an alumnus of St Stithians College, where CN&CO’s chief señor Carel Nolte went to school and currently serves as chair of the governing council.

“Kineta has issued an impassioned plea for assistance with her studies at the ultra-prestigious Yale School of Drama in Connecticut, USA,” he says. “She has been accepted on a scholarship as one of only a handful of students for the graduating class of 2019.”

Unfortunately, despite her scholarship, Kineta is still short of funds for her studies. The academic year starts in August, and so far Kineta’s chances of being able to start look slim.

“Apart from world-class talent, South Africans are also known for our world-class generosity,” says Carel, who also sits on the board of Business Arts South Africa (BASA). “On behalf of St Stithians, CN&CO and myself personally, I issue an appeal to South Africans to assist Kineta in whatever way we can. This is a lady with loads of talent. It would be a shame to see it going to waste.”

Kineta’s appeal appears below. If you would like to make any contributions, contact Carel on

“Reach for the moon and if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” This is what my mother always used to tell me when I was growing up. I never knew then just how far that piece of advice would take me and I never, in a million years, dreamed that I would land at The Yale School of Drama Class of 2019.  

Rewind to where this journey began. I had always been an enthusiastic drama student in school. Drama was how I connected with the world. I was inspired by this form of storytelling as a tool to identify and share thoughts, ideas, expressions and feelings that I could not share and express in my daily life. For a long time I was convinced I was going to study drama at university and become an actor. However, by the time matric came I was of the mind that I would do a business degree first and then move into acting later. However, as time went on I found myself working miserably towards a future I didn’t actually want, while I let my gift and passion for telling stories go unused. My year of studying business taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance (values that have given me a great advantage as an actor) but I knew acting was what I really wanted to do. I also knew that it was the gift I had been given to share with the world. After being accepted to the American Musical Dramatic Academy three years ago the road has been paved with many successes as well as many challenges but despite the challenges it has been a journey completely worth fighting for.

Unfortunately, part of those challenges comes from the lack of financial support available for the arts. I am delighted to have been accepted to The Yale School of Drama (YSD) Class of 2019. However, despite being the recipient of a scholarship from YSD, I am still in need of assistance. I am currently on a search for financial aid/sponsorship for tuition, housing and living expenses.

YSD is ranked as one of the top graduate programmers in the world, with an acceptance rate of approximately 5%. Its three-year graduate programme offers training in every aspect of theatre, from acting and directing to technical design and management … and everything in between. I will be persuing my training at YSD in the acting programme, where I will be one of 16 class members to start in August 2016. Some YSD alumni include the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Lynn Nottage.

I am both humbled and honored at the opportunity to be trained at such a prestigious school, a school that sees thousands of talented, hard working applicants every year. But I believe that this is an opportunity that also bears a great responsibility. I have a responsibility to my country, to my school, to the people who have supported me in my journey and to myself. It is the responsibility that comes with passion. It is the responsibility that comes with achieving a goal. It is the responsibility that comes with having support in the pursuit of a dream. It is the responsibility of following that dream. That responsibility is to share and to give back. In sharing our own gifts we give others permission to share in theirs; we dare to bring the greatness out in others by daring to be great ourselves; and we remove the limitations that define where we can and can not go in life. 

We reach for the moon and if we miss we land in a beautiful blanket of stars.