By: Zenobia Harris
Reed Burkett, one of VSU’s own mass media alumni, hopes he never wakes up.
Currently living in Los Angeles, California, fulfilling his childhood dream of being an actor, Burkett spent his early years in Alma, Georgia, where he first discovered his passion for comedy, film and improv.
“I grew up running around with a video camcorder in my hand filming my friends, cousins and brothers,” Burkett said. “We’d film silly skits with music or place the camera on my dresser and perform characters with each other. I didn’t realize it at the time, but at age 12, I was already improvising.”
Burkett continued to nourish his passion for the arts in high school by participating in plays and helping out with the school’s news broadcast. Upon entering college, he knew he belonged in the mass media program.
“I knew it was the best route for me because I had heard great stories about the program,” Burkett said, “although I was leaning more towards a career in sports broadcasting and reporting.”
During his time at VSU, Burkett discovered the “To Be Named Later…” improv troupe, which quickly became a major part of Burkett’s life and influenced him in more ways than one.
“I had no idea what improv was or what I was doing, and the first thing they had us do was line up and one at a time we began playing a drill sergeant talking to the rest of the troupe as if they were soldiers,” Burkett said. “Then it clicked in my brain, ‘This is improv!’”
Burkett fell in love with the art form and began attending all of the troupe’s open workshops, leading him to his first ever audition.
“I did the best I could, but there were so many other great performers (that) I didn’t think I had a chance,” Burkett said. “The next week the new members were posted on the call board—I got in!”
Burkett remembers performing with the TBNL improv troupe as one of the greatest experiences of his college career.
Upon graduating, Burkett decided to pursue his passions in acting and film making, gaining experience through working with networks ranging from ESPN to Nickelodeon. He moved to LA, where he met up with some of his old TBNL troupe members and, along with some new talent, created the House of Culture Comedy improv troupe. This group writes skits which they perform both live and on YouTube.
“Everyone in HOC plays an equal role; everyone has an equal say,” Burkett said. “This comes from our improv background, group mind and chemistry. There’s a lot of trust involved. I try to book us as many shows as possible; we just love to make people laugh.”
Burkett, currently a student at Second City Conservatory in Hollywood, which has trained comedians and performers such as Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Key and Peele, and Stephen Colbert, is in a main stage show at the Conservatory called, “Jurrassic Park After Dark.” He graduates Feb. 23 when the show ends.
In addition to working with his improv troupe and participating in the Second City program, Burkett says that he auditions anywhere between two to nine times a week for anything ranging from feature films to commercials. He also continues to produce and edit videos for musicians, dancers and his troupe around LA.
“I’ve recently signed with Tangerine Talent, a commercial and theatrical agency for actors,” Burkett said. “I also booked my first worldwide commercial that will be coming out in a few months. Though I’ll still be making sketches here and there, I still plan on producing a short film by this fall and auditioning for Second City’s touring company in June.
Burkett dreams of one day performing for Saturday Night Live. Though he can’t speak for the whole House of Comedy group, Burkett says he wouldn’t mind coming back to VSU for a show.
“I’m performing as much as possible, filming as much as possible, and loving every day doing it,” Burkett said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything different with my life right now; I’m happy.”
Excellent interview! Nice to see a former VSU student living his dream!