Kira Yang is a performer who is comfortable wearing hats ­– writer, director, producer, choreographer, promoter and star.

She is also one of the first to graduate from the inaugural Bachelor of Music Theatre degree at the University of Adelaide. Along with a cohort of her university peers (Aiden Wang, Nicole Rammesh, Jack Doherty and Liliana Franco), Yang brazenly made her debut at the 2022 Adelaide Fringe with her original work, Not Your Average Asian Girl.

“It started as a uni project,” says Yang. “Everyone in the music theatre course had to write a cabaret, and we performed at Nexus Arts as a work-in-progress showing and my showing was really successful.

“A few producers and directors that were in the room came to me after my show and encouraged me to take the show to Fringe Festival because they saw huge potential in that 10-minute cabaret.”

The autobiographical show explores “the theme of leaping out of your comfort zone”, with Yang referencing the support and encouragement of her classmates in finding her voice and allowing her to come out of her shell and take risks as a performer.

She credits her experience in her degree with helping to transform her from a “quiet, almost invisible, shy Asian girl that never swears” into a performer comfortable putting herself centre-stage.

“I think it’s really cool to be the first ones to graduate and see how the course is constantly improving and developing,” says Yang.

“It was definitely a very experimental process at the beginning because none of us knew what to expect from this course. But gradually we got into it, and it was a really intensive and fun experience.”

With the aid of a 2021 Helpmann Academy Creative Investment Fellowship (valued at $10,000), Yang was able to take her seed of an idea and build it into a multi-award-winning and sell-out-season performance at the 2022 Adelaide Fringe.

“It was definitely a huge leap. It helped put the production on a whole other level professionally and it was really a dream came true for me personally.

“It was a real thrill to put on our first ever Fringe show and win awards and have a full house every night.

“Without the Creative Investment Fellowship, we wouldn’t have been able to put on this show and achieve what we have achieved for our debut project at o!ky productions.”

With the funding from Helpmann, Yang and her cohort were able to secure Nexus Arts as a venue, bring on Rosanne Hosking and Matthew Briggs as mentors and co-directors/producers, and employ a PR manager to help secure reviews and other press coverage.

Rosanne Hosking and Kira Yang in an o!ky productions rehearsal. Photo: WillOne Studio

Because of the strong foundation set with the Creative Investment Fellowship, Kira is now looking at performing a second season of Not Your Average Asian Girl in 2023.

“We are currently thinking of doing another season in 2023, either at Fringe Festival again or hopefully the Cabaret Festival,” she says. “Thanks to the support from Helpmann, we built a lot of amazing high-quality marketing assets during our 2022 run, including footage and pictures, as well as five-star reviews, that help to make our application really strong and will also support our ticket sales for our future seasons.

“We are also currently working on an anti-discrimination music project that will also benefit from the audience that we built from Not You Average Asian Girl.”

With an exciting 12 months ahead, Yang is urging other emerging creatives to apply for the current round of the Helpmann Academy’s Creative Investment Fellowship.

“That dream project that you are thinking of ­– it could come true. It could achieve excellent results. Just go for it and good luck.”

To learn more about Kira Yang, you can visit her Instagram (@kirayangmusic) or the o!ky productions website.

The 2022 Helpmann Creative Investment Fellowships are currently open, offering up to $10,000 for large projects and substantial professional development programs. Applications close on Sunday, September 18, 2022. More information is available here.

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