Roswell High School Student Receives Shuler Hensley Award for Best Actress

Mary and BertMay 7, 2019 – Roswell High School Junior Jessi Kirtley won the category Best Performance by a Leading Actress for her title role in the spring production of “Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical.” She was honored with a 2019 Shuler Hensley Award at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center hosted by the ArtsBridge Foundation. Musical theater students and schools were honored in 17 categories.

The ArtsBridge Foundation is a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which expands arts education for Georgia students and increases accessibility to arts experiences.

The awards show included performances by many of the honorees, including the other Best Actress nominees. Kirtley performed “Practically Perfect” from Mary Poppins before she was announced as the award winner.Jessi Kirtley headshot

“Thank you so much to Ms. Williams and Ms. Stern and everyone involved,” Kirtley said in her acceptance speech.

In a backstage interview, Kirtley said, “My castmates are some of my favorite people in the world….I’ve had such a great experience meeting some of them this year and continuing long lasting friendships.”

In 2018, she received the Shuler Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress for her role as Paulette Bonafonte in Roswell High School’s production of “Legally Blonde.” Some of her other past credits include Heather McNamara in “Heathers” and Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” In addition to theatre, she’s been dancing for 13 years and has served as assistant choreographer in Roswell High School’s musicals.

“I’m so incredibly proud of Jessi,” said Rebecca Stern, the Theatre Director at Roswell High School. “She is one of the most humble and kind students that I have ever worked with. She was, and is such a hard worker and just emanated positivity throughout the whole rehearsal process.”

Said Principal Robert Shaw, “Jessi’s Best Actress award is one of several accolades for the RHS drama program has received this year, and it comes on the heels of her Shuler Award last year for Best Supporting Actress. She is incredibly talented and we are happy she’s part of musical theatre at Roswell High School. We are so proud Jessi and can’t wait to see what’s next for her.”

The winner in each Shuler Award category competes in New York City at The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (the Jimmy Awards), which will be presented by The Broadway League Foundation in a televised event on Monday, June 24, 2019.

For more information on the ArtsBridge Foundation’s Shuler Hensley Awards, visit For more information about the Jimmy Awards, visit

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