Jarrod Draper rates being the first Indigenous man to be accepted into the musical theatre course at the respected WA Academy of Performing Arts as his greatest achievement to date — and there have been a lot of them.
The Wiradjuri man from central New South Wales is in his second year of study at WAAPA, where famous graduates include Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman and stage star Lucy Durack.
Draper is also the recipient of the Edith Cowan University Vice Chancellor’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship for 2017, which provides $2500 per semester until the completion of Draper’s degree.
He will formally receive the scholarship at a flag-raising ceremony at ECU’s Mt Lawley Campus on July 3 to mark the beginning of NAIDOC Week celebrations.
Draper moved away from home to attend boarding school at the age of 15 and was quickly spotted as a natural on the stage. He attracted lead roles in school productions, won theatre awards, sang solo at the Empire State Building and scored a perfect 100 percent in music for his HSC.
He also shone on the sports field at rugby, touch football, basketball, soccer and competed at state level in swimming.
“I have always been encouraged by my parents to follow my dreams and be proud of my Indigenous heritage,” Draper says.
He says his ultimate goal is to perform on Broadway.
ECU’s NAIDOC Week activities also include a ‘Celebration of Indigenous Art and Culture Exhibition’ in the Kurongkurl Katitjin Gallery at the Mount Lawley campus, screenings of the short film Talking Language with Ernie Dingo and flag-raising ceremonies on all campuses.