Annual ABC Discovers Talent Showcase Goes Virtual for First Time (Exclusive)

ABC Headquarters New York - Getty - H 2018
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Past editions of the event have featured actors including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Meghan Markle and Pedro Pascal.

ABC Talent and Casting will be staging its annual "ABC Discovers" talent showcase online for the first time in its 19-year history amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned.

The showcase, whose New York edition this year will stream Thursday, Dec. 3, and Los Angeles version on Tuesday, Dec. 15, features actors selected after a painstaking audition and rehearsal process. At the annual event, participants perform original scenes workshopped with ABC casting executives in front of other casting professionals. Showcase participants also receive a one-year mentorship with executives from ABC Talent and Casting and take part in on-camera workshops.

Actors including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Meghan Markle, Pedro Pascal, Gina Rodriguez, Randall Park, Jesse Williams, DeWanda Wise and Jorge Garcia have taken part in previous years of the showcases, which has so far presented 620 actors across 45 events.

“I have been part of the Talent Showcase for 18 of its 19 years, and I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible talent the program has introduced to the entertainment community," said Ayo Davis, ABC Entertainment and Disney+'s executive vp talent and casting, who is moving into a new role at Disney Branded Television after the showcase, in a statement. "Discovering an amazing group of performers each year is something that gives me great joy, and this year is no exception. Despite unprecedented times, I am in awe of my team, the actors, writers, directors and editors, and what they achieved under such challenging circumstances. I am excited to premiere our first virtual Talent Showcases with two very impressive casts."

This year's New York showcase will feature performers Adam Kaplan, Angela Wong Carbone, Anna Uzele, Aury Krebs, Caitlin Bassett, David Garelik, Emilia Suarez, Jamad Mays, Kalyne Coleman, Laura Kariuki, Mark McKinnon, Rolando Chusan, Supriya Ganesh, Trevor Salter, Usama Siddiquee and Woody Fu. The Los Angeles showcase will spotlight Akilah Walker, Ana Marte, Angela Giarratana, Anirudh Pisharody, Arthur J. Davis, Carmireli Rodriguez, Chase Yi, Chester Lockhart, Diana Toshiko, Gonzalo Martin, Jasmine Ashanti, Jonathan Marquez, Nikkita Chadha, Rainbow Dickerson, TK Richardson and Yvette Lu.

Writers for this year's New York showcase scenes include David Kimple, Joe McQuillen, Laura Janeczko, Rolando Chusan, Samantha Clay, Scotty Crowe and Susannah Nolan; scenes will be directed by Joseph Ward, Alan Muraoka, Laura Brandel and NJ Agwuna, and shadow directors Cyndee Rivera, Kelcy Griffin and Sky Smith. Writers for the Los Angeles showcase are Jessica Combs, Joe McQuillen and Samantha Clay and writers team members Brian Shin and Ritza Bloom; directors include Sue Hamilton, Eli Gonda, Ellen D. Williams and Rebecca Murga, and shadow directors Helen Madelyn Kim, Lauren Gaw, Mollie Dolcimascolo, Saagar Shaikh and Tiffany Bank.

Earlier this year, universities' year-end actors' showcases also went online for the first time amid the pandemic, with students self-taping performances and, in some cases, furnishing their own sets and costumes. Talent representatives who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter at the time said that, in prior years, they had called for schools to implement a video component to their usually live events and that the health crisis accelerated that transition.