Grants & Scholarships

Denise Dowse Drama Scholarship Fund

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The Denise Dowse Drama Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Denise “Denny” Yvonne Dowse, a talented Hollywood actor, director, teacher, mentor, and W.T. Woodson High School graduate (1976). This scholarship benefits the drama and drama technology seniors of W.T. Woodson High School.

Her passion for the performing arts and her lifetime of friendship and giving inspired the Woodson Class of 1976 alumni; her sister, Tracey; family and friends, to establish this scholarship fund.

Enjoy this retrospective on Denny's life, passion for theater and drama, and the goals of this scholarship fund to benefit students at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, VA.

Denny was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of a U.S. Naval officer. She was an accomplished Woodson High School alumna: athlete (field hockey), leader (class president), and actor (theater program). Highlights of her high school theatrical career included productions of Godspell, Of Mice and Men, Auntie Mame, The Serpent, The Chalk Garden, and Amen, Amen.

A scholarship awardee herself, Denny spent a year with,  Up with People, a program that empowered Denny to make a difference in the world through volunteering, leadership, and performing arts. Denny continued her study of theater arts at Norfolk State University, receiving rave reviews for her performance in the leading role (Martha) in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and graduating from NSU’s Theater Company in 1981.

From the early 1980s until her passing on August 12, 2022, at age 64, Denny was a powerful representative of, and advocate for, the performing arts. She was an accomplished Hollywood actor, director, teacher, and mentor. Those who knew Denny, heartbroken by the loss of this talented, beautiful, and eloquent woman, wish to ensure her legacy and memory will endure.

Denny was an inspiration to young performers and an active mentor to young people ages 8 to 18 at Amazing Grace Conservatory in south Los Angeles. Through performing art training in acting, voice, and dance, Amazing Grace provides a platform for emerging artists to become confident adults with a positive image of themselves and their community. Her legacy will continue to inspire young performers.

denise dowse acting credits pictureA talented performer with over 120 acting credits for television and movie roles, Denny is most remembered for roles in the movies, Coach Carter (Principal Garrison), Ray (Marlene), and The Call (Flora), and for television roles, Insecure (Dr. Rhonda Pine), and Beverly Hills 90210 (Mrs. Yvonne Teasley). Some of her other television series roles include:
A Cloud So High (Det. Trina McWilliams) – 2022
Grey’s Anatomy (Lorraine Simms) – 2020
New Amsterdam (Alfreda Watson) – 2019
Murder in the First (Rainelle James) – 2016
Castle (Judge Gloria Wollcott) – 2016
Criminal Minds (Yvonne Burns) – 2011-2012
Bones (Dr. Sherry Bannon) – 2011


Up to two non-renewable scholarships of up to $1,000 are awarded each year


  • Current senior at W.T. Woodson High School
  • Current member of the W.T. Woodson High School drama program as an actor or in a technical discipline (videographer, graphic artist, stage set and prop builder, costume designer, fabrication technician, lighting and sound technician, script and program developer, or other discipline)
  • Student plans to attend an accredited college or university, conservatory, or other institute of higher education
  • Student demonstrates passion, leadership, mentorship, and a high level of participation in the W.T. Woodson High School drama program
  • GPA above a 2.0


This scholarship will open for applications in 2024, with the following schedule:
January 8, 2024 Online application opens
March 14, 2024 Online application due
June 2024 Scholarship recipient(s) notified
August 2024 Scholarship payments sent to recipients' college/university