Carole Baskin encourages Iowa Law students with personalized video

As a gift to his nine Supreme Court Seminar students at the end of the semester, Professor Todd Pettys ordered them a personalized Cameo starring Tiger King’s Carole Baskin.



Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin in a still from Netflix’s “Tiger King.”

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

At the start of COVID-19 isolation in the U.S. last spring, the Netflix Original “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” premiered and garnered huge audiences nationwide, including a certain University of Iowa Law professor.

UI Professor Todd Pettys usually takes his nine Supreme Court Seminar students out to dinner to celebrate the end of the semester. COVID-19, however, made this annual tradition impossible. So, Pettys instead scanned the internet for the perfect gift to bring some light to his students. He found this in a personalized video from “The Tiger King’s” Carole Baskin.

Pettys stumbled upon the personalized video service, Cameo, by accident and looked for someone on the website who might interest his students.

“It’s a collision of two different worlds,” Pettys said. “The world of Tiger King and the world of law school, but it’s an unusual time so people have to start coming up with unusual ideas.”

During a semester where law students are unable to learn in their usual face-to-face discussion-style classes, the law professor called on pop culture star Carole Baskin — who’s navigated the courts often herself — to invoke wisdom and encouragement to his students.


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Cameo is a personalized video website where customers pay to have some of their favorite celebrities or pop-culture identities speak directly to them in a unique video.

Brandon Kazimer, a Cameo representative, said Cameo has been in a position to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting talent or chosen icons to fans in the form of personalized video messages, live Zoom calls, and direct messages.

Earlier this year, many actors, athletes, musicians, and other professionals saw their projects shrink or shut down, Kazimer said, but hundreds of them found an opportunity to stay in touch with their supporters and fans through Cameo.

Throughout quarantine or times of isolation, people all around the world have been using Cameo to deliver fun life announcements such as engagements and pregnancies to family and friends while also self-isolating every day, Kazimer said.

Several thousand new people have joined Cameo since the beginning of the pandemic, Kazimer added.

“Cameo allows people to have such amazing, memorable interactions with their favorite people every day,” Kazimer said. “Technology has allowed people to preserve the connections they crave during stay-at-home orders. We are thrilled those same people can create a memorable moment with their favorite people through Cameo.”

Carole Baskin’s unique video to Pettys’ class was originally sent to the class itself through an email. From there, Pettys and his students shared it on social media.

“I usually take my Iowa Law School Supreme Court Seminar students out to dinner at the end of the semester,” Pettys captioned the video on Twitter. “This year — COVID. So I sent them a few words from Carole instead. Best wishes to these nine wonderful students.”

The video features a colorful Baskin addressing the UI Law School directly and congratulates the Supreme Court Seminar class on working hard this semester, despite the pandemic.

The life of Baskin connects to the lives of the students when she talks about her past with lawsuits and various legal woes.

“Let me tell you, as someone who’s been involved in a lot of lawsuits — I hate to even think about how many lawsuits I’ve been in — it really makes the difference when you have an attorney who has both the ability to understand the law but also to write their arguments, and deliver their arguments, in such a compelling fashion,” Baskin said.

“The Tiger King” star went on to talk about her husband, a Harvard Law grad, and told students how much she appreciates having someone who knows the law with her when she’s involved in her own legal battles.

“There is a magic in crafting that in such a way that it engages the judge and jury and so I hear from Professor Pettys that you guys are doing that kind of work and that you are excelling beyond the norm. Both of us are just so appreciative of your hard work,” Baskin said.

The nine students found the video to be a fun way to end a complicated semester. This course and others similar to it are often peer and group heavy and were made more difficult by a change in set up.

Third-year Iowa Law Student and Supreme Court Seminar student Joel Mudd said Pettys wasn’t at the top of his list of people who he thought watched “Tiger King” and wasn’t even close to the top of the list of people who would know how to use Cameo, considering Mudd didn’t know how to use it himself.

Mudd said the video lined up with the class well because Baskin made a good point about combining writing and speaking skills to be a good lawyer. The class was about conveying accurate information, and delivering it the right way, he said. The video followed a similar vein, he said.

“We were all really surprised, everyone in our law school community has been talking about it,” Mudd said. “The video was a fun silver lining and interesting way to end the semester during a confusing and otherwise depressing time.”