From Acton Estate to World Class Performing Arts School

Urgent appeal to help budding star achieve his dream

Victor Masha at Acton's ActOne Cinema

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A young man from an Acton housing estate has been awarded a place at a highly prestigious performing arts school in America but urgently needs to raise funds or could lose his dream.

Victor Masha was overjoyed to discover he'd been accepted to study on the highly competitive Masters of Fine Arts programme at The Juilliard School in New York - one of just 18 awarded from thousands who had applied.

Established in 1905, the school trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama and music and is widely regarded as one of the world's leading arts establishments.

Victor, 26, was brought up with his four siblings on the South Acton estate, and went to St Vincent Primary School. He says his mum - a single parent - never had the opportunity for further education herself and had left Nigeria to pursue a better life for her family.

The Juilliard School in New York

At 19, and without telling anybody, he began courses at Identity School of Drama in London and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and says it was these opportunities which helped provide him with a refuge from Acton's sometimes ''harsh urban environment'' and gave him a place ''to express his emotions, experiences and characters'' witnessed in his community.

Victor starring in short film Bando

During the pandemic, Victor worked with his local youth centre, Bollo Brook, and Jamal Edwards' charity JE Delve on a short film, exploring the complexities of growing up on a housing estate.
He says the finished film, 'Bando', gave him the push he needed to apply for Juilliard - which he had discovered by googling '' best drama schools''.

After completing five rounds of auditions and an interview, he was invited to the Callback Weekend from Thursday 10 March - Sunday 13 March where the final 50 applicants took part in lessons, watched a theatre performance and performed monologues, a song and a Shakespeare sonnet.

He says, '' as you can imagine the Weekend was very eventful and eye opening. I got a chance to experience what classes would be like and get a real feel of the school, teachers and atmosphere. Two days later on March 15th I woke up to an American number calling my phone. "We'd like to offer you a place..."

''I was still half asleep but in deep shock not expecting the results to come back so quickly. I felt ecstatic but after all my hard work, it was a relief, after not even knowing if I was going to continue with acting this time last year to being accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School.''

Whilst overjoyed, Victor soon realised the scholarship does not cover all the costs and as an international student will have difficulty applying for other forms of funding.

He has launched a Crowdfunding campaign and says, ''My upbringing is in many ways my greatest asset artistically. The world I have seen and am part of, the fragility and desperation on the one hand and the bonds, community, creativity and sense of determination on the other, shape the way I approach acting. On the flip side it means that the money needed to take up this opportunity just isn't readily available to me.

''I  have been looking to reduce the amount of money I need to raise, including through my work and tapping into corporate and industry funding. This means I am able to reduce the amount I need to raise by 15th June to £20,000. This will enable me to apply for my visa whilst I continue to raise further funding.''

Locals are already supporting with messages, Steve Curtis from Young Ealing Safeguarding has worked with Victor at the Bollo Brook centre and on the films and said: ''Victor's talent was obvious after our first few meetings, he's also a great mentor to other young people who come to bollo youth club. Victor is not only on a journey to realise his own talent,  but he's actively supporting his peers to do the same.''


Victor says, ''My ultimate goal is to perform on Screen in a Christopher Nolan or David Fincher film! I want to become an inspirational actor, collaborating with the best actors, directors and writers.''

When asked what he would say to other young people who have big dreams, this inspirational young man answers with conviction...

'' DON'T GIVE UP! we are big dreamers so sometimes our goals can seem so far away, but if you don't chase them, someone else will. Believe in yourself, work hard and be obsessed with your dream because it is achievable.''

''There has been great support from my family, friends and the community around me! I have to say thanks to my mum and siblings allowing me to leave so I can chase this dream in New York.''

Help Victor get to Juilliard - join the Crowdfunding Campaign here.

Annemarie Flanagan


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1 June 2022

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