Corey grew up in a small farm in North Carolina but was always a natural performer, drawn to the stage from a young age. However, he has always considered teaching to be his true vocation. Initially an English teacher, he has taught acting and musical theatre at the Northwest School of the Arts since 2001. For the past fifteen years, he has supported young artists to follow their dreams, encouraging great talents to develop and achieve their potential. Many of his students are now professional performers, whether on Broadway, in London’s West End, or other venues – and a few are now even directors, playwrights, and arts managers. He sees it as his aim to help students understand the infinite possibilities of the arts – through discipline, but also with fun.
Corey has received many awards in recognition of his special approach and dedication. He was the inaugural winner of the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education; the recipient of the Arts Innovator Award from The Arts Empowerment Project; and was named Best Director by a host of theatre associations and other centres. He and his students were also the subject of the documentary film Purple Dreams about the process of producing a musical version of The Color Purple; this was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival for consideration.
At an early stage of his teaching career, Corey received financial and practical help from a number of individuals, which he remembers vividly. He is now the patron of several small theatre companies and is also involved in fundraising activities. If awarded the prize Corey would like implement a “Theatre Two-Day Takeover” program to conduct masterclasses with students and teachers and communicate the benefits of developing a strong arts program.