There are so many new Arts awards this year and space is scarce, so we’re sticking with the fresh names for 2021. In the center section, you’ve already met flautist Andra Bohnet, winner of the Best Classical Musician award. Regular readers know Best Local Sculptor April Livingston from her previous appearances in this space.
Best Local Graphic Design Artist: Marie Katz
Now the director of creative services at USA Health, Katz was previously art director at the Sullivan-St. Clair advertising firm and for Business Alabama. She has worked in creative services for the University of South Alabama and USA Health since 2017.
Best Art Photographer: Richard Dollison
Dollison teaches honors and advanced placement civics, history and economics classes at W.P. Davidson High School. He is also an adjunct instructor of photography at Spring Hill College.
“For me, photography is a chase to capture ‘the’ moment: a smile, shadow or waves on the shore,” Dollison said in a statement.
Best Local Comedian: Paula Bryan
Teaching gifted students for the last 23 years sharpened this Mobile native’s performance chops. Three years ago, she joined the Bay City Improv murder mystery cast on the Perdido Queen cruises. She said she placed third in 2019’s Mobile Comedy Festival.
Bryan staged her one-woman work, “My Menopausical Life: Comedic Adventures in Womanhood,” at Iron Hand Brewing in May and June this year.
“I was shocked and thrilled about the Nappie Award,” Bryan said. “I don’t think I’ve won anything like this since I won a handwriting contest in fourth grade.”
Best Local Filmmaker: Drew Hall
A Mobile native, Hall has directed multiple feature films such as “The Phoenix Rises,” “Sons of Liberty,” “Convergence,” “Sasq-watchers” and “Aether: The Rise of Specter.” All are available on Amazon Prime.
Hall has founded two production companies, Craftshow Digital and a “small business-oriented advertising agency” named wehelp.business.
“I’m just grateful people voted for me. Kind of wild, but also cool,” Hall said.
Best Local Actor: Lillian Odom
Odom climbed onstage in “about fourth grade” and has performed “in about three or four productions a year,” her mother, Ellen, said. So, the McGill-Toolen rising senior has about 20 shows to her credit.
Primarily a PACT performer, she won an All-Star award at the 2019 Junior Theatre Festival and has won other company awards since then. She is considering auditioning for collegiate musical theater programs soon.
Ellen wasn’t present when Lillian discovered her Nappie win, but the effect remained.
“When I got home from work, she was still going, ‘I’m so excited! I can’t believe I won!’” Ellen said.
Best Dancer: Colby Shinn
This Mobile native is among the third generation of professional dancers in his family. By age 16, Shinn was already winning national awards and now serves as director of Sheffield School of Dance. He has appeared in Dance Studio Life magazine and was awarded Best Choreography by Dance Spirit magazine.
Shinn has worked with choreographers for Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and more. He was a principal dancer in a Seth Rogen-directed commercial and performed in the 29th annual Gypsy Awards. He has produced choreography for New York Fashion Week and NBC’s “Today Show.”
Best Local Author: Watt Key
Key’s debut novel, “Alabama Moon,” was published in 2006 and was the 2007 winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award for older readers. It received a 2006 Parents’ Choice Award as well. He followed with seven more novels and two screenplays.
“Thank you to my Mobile and Baldwin County readers for all of your support over the years,” Key said in an email. “I love living in and writing about our wonderful area and hope to keep the stories coming your way!”
Best Poet: Vernon Fowlkes Jr.
Fowlkes’ poems have appeared in journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Southern Review, Texas Observer, Commonweal, Willow Springs, Elk River Review, Ampersand Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, Literary Mobile and more. His book, “The Sound of Falling,” was published by Negative Capability Press in 2013.
“I was happy to see the category added to the Nappies this year, as the bay area has a very active and vibrant poetry community,” Fowlkes said in an email. “It was truly an honor to have been nominated and I’m touched to have won.”
Best Theatrical Singer: Victoria Whatley
A rising senior in Baldwin County Virtual School, Whatley has been acting for eight years. Her work at Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre (ESRT) and vocal studies with a University of Mobile instructor have reaped results. This October, she will perform “Godspell” with an ESRT troupe in New York City’s Central Park.
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