Point Park University's Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters is the 2022 Terrence McNally Award Winner in Playwriting Alumni Profile
Meet Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters '22
- Job Title & Employer
- Freelance Actor and Playwright
- Writing for the Stage and Screen-M.F.A.
- North Wales, Pa.
- High School
- North Penn High School
- Now Living In
- Philadelphia, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Reading, cooking, spending time at the New Jersey seashore
"For a working professional who doesn’t want to uproot their entire life/family, this program is a great fit ... The educators are here to help you succeed when experiencing new mediums or tackling a different format, while also allowing you the space to honor your personal writing style."
You are the 2022 Terrence McNally Award winner in Playwriting. Tell us about this award and what receiving it means to you.
Receiving the Terrence McNally Award is an incredible honor. It’s affirming to be recognized by Philadelphia Theatre Company for my contributions to not only storytelling and the transformative power of playwriting, but also for my connection to our beloved city.
I’ve been in Philadelphia since graduating from undergrad and I love the arts community here. A large part of my arts activism is rooted in uplifting the voices of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and supporting the AAPI artists in Philadelphia. This award means I can shine a greater light on my colleagues and community.
Briefly highlight your career path and what led you to pursue an M.F.A. in screenwriting and playwriting at Point Park University.
After graduating from Bucknell University with a degree in performance, I headed to Philadelphia. Philly is close to where I grew up and I heard about its thriving theatre scene. I was auditioning constantly and was very lucky to book work. However, the traditional musical opportunities for an Asian American actress, at the time, were Miss Saigon and King and I. I loved those experiences because they allowed me to connect with other AAPI actors in the community, but I was frustrated that we were being slotted into a white man’s idea of Asian.
I started booking more contemporary plays where the playwrights were often in the room and actively revising during the rehearsal process. It was a totally different world, Contemporary theatre was electrifying for me. It inspired me in a new way. However, I continued to notice a lack of opportunity for my AAPI siblings. I waited for more opportunities, but I got tired of waiting — so I began to write. I wrote for my friends’ strengths, for my mother’s stories to live on and for a community that is often left voiceless. I wanted that voice to be loud and unapologetically so.
Tell us about your experience as an M.F.A. student at Point Park.
I was looking at Point Park's program because of the playwriting focus and truly did not think I would be at all interested in writing a film. However, during my second semester of my first year, I tackled a feature-length film. I am a huge Nora Ephron fan and wanted to combine my love of rom-coms with my love for KPop. I wrote Be Like the Flower: a KPop rom-com. I’m so impressed with the program’s support of students branching into other mediums.
Similarly, there was a class in the fall of 2021 where we pitched a new idea in a new medium every other week. It was a huge challenge and something I thought would be insurmountable. However, I found the challenge so stimulating for my creative brain. I’m not sure if anything will come of the ideas that I pitched, but I am happy to have had the space to develop them. I can’t wait to see what those ideas will be when they grow up.
Why would you recommend Point Park’s M.F.A. program to a prospective student?
For a working professional who doesn’t want to uproot their entire life/family, this program is a great fit. It’s quite rigorous and you’ll be pushed in new directions. If you want to explore new mediums, this program is a way to dive in, with some safety bumpers on your bowling lane. The educators are here to help you succeed when experiencing new mediums or tackling a different format, while also allowing you the space to honor your personal writing style.
What’s next for you in your career?
My play, Acetone Wishes and Plexiglass Dreams, will be at the Great Plains Theatre Conference this summer.
Then I’ll head to Texas Tech University to work with their students in the WildWind Lab on a new play I’m devising about the Riot Grrrl movement.
As the school year begins, I’ll begin working with Swarthmore University’s theatre students in Acting 1 classes while returning to my current school in Jersey to teach creative writing and drama to the middle school students. In the winter, you can catch me at the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Cinderella. It should be a really fun and fulfilling couple of months.