University Lecture Committee hosts Emmy award-winning star Dan Levy in partnership with ISU, UNI

Dan Levy, best known for his role of David Rose and co-creation of Schitt’s Creek, discussed the show’s development and gave advice to students Friday night.


Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY, USA

Eugene Levy, left, and Dan Levy deliver opening remarks during the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today)

Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

Emmy award-winning actor, director, producer and writer Dan Levy talked creation, artistic struggle, and gave advice to viewers during a Friday night lecture sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Lecture Committee in partnership with Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. 

Best known for starring as David Rose in the television series Schitt’s Creek, — which he co-created and co-starred in with his father Eugene Levy — Dan Levy is the first person to win an Emmy award in all four major categories within a single year for his contributions to the final season of Schitt’s Creek

Co-chair of the UI Lecture Committee Hannah Shrader shared her excitement for hosting Levy to speak with students. She said the lecture committee wanted to keep students engaged online despite a time of extreme burnout.

“In early February at one of our brainstorming meetings, his name entered the conversation,” Shrader said. “Every single person on our committee agreed that he would be an amazing speaker and we started planning the event.”  

Shrader said the committee had to create a separate website to livestream the event due to how many people across the state and country showed interest. On Facebook, over 96.5K people said they were interested in attending. There were technical difficulties at the beginning of the event due to the amount of people trying to access the link. 

To kick off the evening,  Schrader opened the event by introducing Levy and the student panelists, one representative from each university. The representatives included University of Iowa student Alexi Bolden, University of Northern Iowa student Alyssa Anderson, and Iowa State University student Brooklin Border.

Bolden said she has been a fan of Eugene Levy because of his connection to Second City. The senior was named one of four Saturday Night Live scholars in January and will study at Second City for two years. 

“I was initially super nervous to be the selected panelist, but as soon as Dan joined he was so kind and I felt at ease,” Bolden said. “He was so honest and courteous through the whole event which allowed for a smoother conversation.” 

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Levy talked about his experiences working on Schitt’s Creek and the origin of creating the characters. He said he always pictured working with his family and loved that the characters each of them played capitalized on a different personality trait of theirs. He said he loves that Schitt’s Creek serves as a six-year documentary for them and their journey of growing as performers together. 

“In the beginning of the show, we were able to focus on what storylines and messages were most important to us without having to worry about a huge audience,” Levy said. “Once the show debuted on Netflix, we had no idea that the show would blow up to the magnitude it did.”

All of the panelists continued to dive deeper into the show, asking Levy about the Schitt’s Creek Successful Emmy run during their final season, as well as discovering different talents of his own while working on the show. He said that he recognized his strengths in areas of being a showrunner and a writer through Schitt’s Creek

Levy also shared his experience of working on SNL, saying it was one of his career highlights. Growing up, he knew all of the hosts and skits. He hosted the show for the first time in early February. 

“Walking out on the stage, it was absolutely surreal,” Levy said. “Especially doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t have been more grateful to have that opportunity.”

An avid fan of Schitt’s Creek since its premiere in 2015, first-year UI student Bella Mangroo was one of many students who tuned in to watch Levy’s lecture. 

“It was wonderful watching someone I admire talk about his journey with his career,” Mangroo said. “He talked a lot about his mental health issues and how he’s overcome them, and it’s advice I can take with me into the future.”

The lecture had support from many UI organizations and departments on campus including UI Late Night, the Campus Activity Board, and the English and Cinema departments. The second portion of the event was an accumulation of questions posed by students from all three universities. 

Levy answered questions catered toward the English and Cinematic Arts departments’ students by sharing his experience writing screenplays and developing scripts. Highlighting his struggles with writing, he said he wanted to ensure that students continued writing, so they could take one step further to creating “something magical.” 

Levy encouraged students to dig into their creative roots and power through roadblocks. 

At the event’s conclusion, Levy expressed his gratitude for the three universities inviting him to speak and allowing for him to share his story. 

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity to chat with everyone,” Levy said. “I hope to one day make it to Iowa in person.”