A young Aberystwyth actor has been named the winner of the Sir Ian McKellen award for 2023.

Gruffydd Rhys Evans will be one of the 28 successful applicants who will be studying a BA Hons in Acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in September 2023.

He will be awarded £500 to go towards the cost of his studies as part of this special award that was set up with funds donated during Sir Ian McKellen’s visit to the Arts Centre in 2019.

Gruffydd said: “Thank you to Sir Ian McKellen and Aberystwyth Arts Centre for this fantastic opportunity.

“It is a privilege to be a recipient of this prize and to join the many talented people that have received it before me.

“This award will support me while studying at RADA to be an actor, in the hope that I can follow in Sir Ian’s footsteps. I appreciate this support and kindness very much.”

Gruffydd attended Ysgol Penweddig in Aberystwyth before going on to study at 'The Oxford School of Drama' foundation course.

Gruff was also a member of Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s Youth Theatre, the National Youth Theatre and performed in the Wardens Pantomime.

Gruffydd is the only Welsh student to secure a place at the Royal Academy this year. He has also been awarded a bursary from Swansea University to study acting at London’s famous academy.

Gruffydd was the unanimous choice from the Award’s interview panel, who were once again bowled over by the calibre of applicants for the award Creative Coordinator Laura Oliver said: “The standard of applications for the 2023 Award was incredibly high, the panel were blown away by the skills and passion of all the award applicants. Gruff stood out as being particularly focused and passionate in his chosen career and he has a bright future ahead of him. We wish him every success.”

David Wilson, Director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre added: “Yet again, the standard of applications for this year’s award was incredibly high and we were also impressed with the skill, commitment and plans from all of the award applicants. It was an incredibly difficult decision, and the panel felt that Gruffydd’s artistic journey best represented the intentions of the award and we hope that award goes some way in supporting the further development of his clear passion and talent.”

Gruff follows in the footsteps of previous year’s winners. Tom Mathias (2022) first violinist in the Kuttner Quartet-in-residence at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, for the 2022-2023 season, who is studying a Solo Violin Performer Diploma at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. Osian Pearson (2021) who studied an MA in Editing at the prestigious National Film and Television School (NFTS), Cerys Havana Hickman (2020) who studied for a degree in Music (BMus) at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joint winners (2019) Owain Gruffydd, who studied at the University of Northampton studying for a BA Hons Degree in Acting, and Laura Baker who was working towards her BA Hons Degree in Ballet Education at the Royal Academy of Dance.

When Sir Ian McKellen came to perform at the Arts Centre in February 2019, all the money raised from ticket sales and donations during his visit was kept safe to be used for supporting the Arts Centre’s important work with young people. A special prize was established, the Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s Ian McKellen Award, open to a young person between the ages of 16 – 25 who intends to continue their vocational training in the creative arts – including, but not limited to, theatre, dance, and the visual arts. £500 is available annually to award for candidates who can demonstrate artistic promise and the passion for their artform, and who are in receipt of a place for study during the following academic year.