Thorvaldur Davíd Kristjánsson, a student in the drama department of the Juilliard School in New York, was presented with The Robin Williams Scholarship last week, which the Oscar-winning actor grants to particularly hard-working students.
“I was touched, there is no other way to describe it,” Kristjánsson told Fréttabladid. “At first I thought I had done something wrong,” he added, referring to when the director of the drama department called him into his office to tell him about the scholarship.
A total of 72 students are enrolled in the Juilliard drama department, so this comes as great recognition for Kristjánsson.
The scholarship is worth USD 60,000 (EUR 44,000), which Williams donates from his own funds. “He studied here once. It is in his name and he donates this money,” Kristjánsson explained.
The scholarship covers the tuition fees to Juilliard, which have become increasingly difficult for Kristjánsson to pay with the collapse of the Icelandic króna—his student loans are paid out in króna.
“This winter has been very difficult and so the scholarship comes as a great help,” Kristjánsson said, adding that despite having lived on a tight budget he had never considered discontinuing his studies.
“No, I would just have found some way to carry on and continue eating oatmeal,” Kristjánsson laughed. He said that added pressure to succeed comes with the scholarship. “But I like having big goals because then it’s more likely that I will succeed.”
In the coming days the young actor will write a letter to Williams thanking him for the scholarship and telling him about his studies, as is expected of him.
Click here to read about another Icelandic Juilliard student.