Dan Levy, known for his “Schitt’s Creek” fame, made a virtual appearance at the final ISU AfterDark event of the semester.
The third ISU AfterDark was hosted by Brooklin Border from Iowa State, as well as two students from the University of Northern Iowa, Alex Bolden and Alyssa Anderson. Despite technical difficulties that resulted in widespread buffering and lagging, the transmission eventually found its footing.
With Levy being a Canadian actor and “Schitt’s Creek” originally airing in his home country, his reaction to it premiering in America was one of surprise.
“We had an American network just at the end of our development process,” Levy said. “So we knew it would land but we were on a very tiny network in the states called Pop. But what that did was free us up in terms of pressure.”
Levy went on to discuss what it was like to write, act and produce “Schitt’s Creek.”
“It’s a tricky thing,” Levy said. “Up until this show, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I stepped into the role of ‘show runner’ when I was like, ‘Oh, this is what I’m intended to do.' That realization came to me when I had to juggle being an actor and had to juggle writing.”
In terms of writing stories that centered around the LGBTQIA+ community, Levy was able to personally relate to his work.
“I think for myself, as a gay person, getting the opportunity to tell stories about my life, the lives of my friends and my community in a way that felt truthful and in ways that I hadn’t necessarily seen before, that was really crucial. I feel like queer love stories on television are either met with tragedy or, like, there’s a lesson to be learned.”
In regards to other characters in “Schitt’s Creek,” Levy’s family were a big influence.
“I absolutely had my sister in mind [for Twyla]," Levy said. "Her general demeanor in life lent herself so perfectly to that character. It was so nice to work with family in an acting capacity. In a strange sort of way, we’ve been able to have six years of our lives documented.”
Straying away from “Schitt’s Creek,” Levy talked about some of his previous acting work, such as in the 2012 film “Admission.”
“That was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” Levy said. “I had my first job in a movie, and I played a tour guide at Princeton. When you’re anxious, your brain is not working, and I completely panicked. I could not get through my lines. I walked away from that first day thinking, ‘I don’t have what it takes to succeed in this industry.’ But while I was going through a tremendous amount of anxiety, I did have the support of actors.”
Outside of the acting industry, Levy also owns his own eyewear brand, EL Eyewear.
“When I left MTV and I was trying to figure out where my passions lied, I loved the idea of building a company from the ground up,” Levy said. “And I love fashion. Originally, it was just so that I could put out a collection of eyewear that was at a price point that was within people’s health care plans. I built it for four years, but when ‘Schitt’s Creek’ started, we put it on the back burner for like five years. And just as ‘Schitt’s Creek’ ended, we decided to bring it back.”
Levy ended the first portion of the interview with advice for students.
“Be kind to one another. Whether we’re talking socially or professionally, being aware of the people around you is a crucial thing," Levy said. "Be aware and compassionate to your neighbor. From a professional standpoint, if there’s something you want, get it. If there’s something you want to make, make it, no matter how hard it may seem.”
The last few minutes of the conversation with Levy consisted of an audience Q&A. Questions ranging from more detailed explanations of LGBTQIA+ representation on “Schitt’s Creek” to Levy’s experience with anxiety were all asked.
Levy closed out the final question by answering if he would do anything different in his early career.
“As a teenager, I probably would've been less scared,” Levy said. “But at the same time, I don’t know if I would have gotten here if anything had changed. So, you don’t want to butterfly-effect your past, but I wish that I could go back and feel a little more self-assured.”
In-person events at AfterDark included bingo, a Workspace Craft, CyBowl, billiards, create-a-critter and a headphone disco.
The next in-person event hosted by the Student Union Board will be Comedy Night at the Maintenance Shop featuring comedian Jesus Trejo. This event will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday.