We’ve got plot twists for you.
Some of your favorite TV shows may have Mountaineer connections. Sure, we’re all
aware of the obvious ones (i.e. Don Knotts, David Selby). But we’re certain there
are some folks on this list who you didn’t know were WVU alumni.
As the Emmys hosts its annual awards shindig on Sunday (Sept. 17) to honor the ultimate
in television, we thought we'd celebrate our gold-and-blue on the small screen.
This is not a definitive list, so feel free to tell us about others in the comments
below. You can find more entertainers in our February installment of The List about
Mountaineers in the Movies
You’ll remember her as Ginger, the communications aide for Sam Seaborn and Toby Ziegler
in “The West Wing.” Although a minor character, Ginger was portrayed by
(“Webby” to fellow Mountaineers) in all seven seasons of the political
drama that nabbed three Golden Globes and 26 Emmys.
Nowadays the New Jersey native who studied acting and theater at WVU has found
success as associate producer for “Born This Way,” an A&E reality series about
adults with Down syndrome.
“Born This Way” won two Emmys, for casting and cinematography for a reality program,
this year (The Creative Arts Emmys were held Sept. 9-10 separate from the Primetime
Emmys.). This brings Webster’s show up to three Emmy wins out of nine nominations
over the last two years.
“While at WVU, I learned what ‘passion’ was,” Webster said. “There, I discovered
I had a passion for acting and storytelling and, obviously, a passion for all things
Mountaineers. These passions have fueled my life, both personally and professionally
ever since my time in Morgantown. And it doesn't get any better than making a living
off your passions.”
Davis and his wife Jodi on the red carpet of the 2017 Creative Arts Emmys.
Another victor at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmys was “Stranger Things,” racking up
, BFA ’85, serves as art director on the Netflix thriller and
ode to 1980s pop culture. Davis has also worked on “One Tree Hill,” “Dawson’s Creek”
and “Under the Dome.”
Oh, and there’s a West Virginia-flavored tidbit on his resume: set designer for
the 1999 Homer Hickam bio-film “October Sky.”
Jimmy Gary Jr.
Gary Jr. (left) as Felix Rikerson in "Orange is the New Black." Photo by JoJo Wilden
Someone get this man his inhaler or insulin injector.
As Felix Rikerson, a corrections officer at Litchfield Penitentiary on “Orange
is the New Black,”
Jimmy Gary Jr.
portrays one of the more sympathetic guards of the cruel bunch.
And he usually appears to be short of breath or in some sort of pain in his segments.
But the former WVU football player is likely a healthy specimen in reality. Gary
Jr., BFA ’95, played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks before rushing from the gridiron
to the TV screen.
He's made one-off appearances over the years on “The Blacklist,” “House of Cards,”
“White Collar” and “Nurse Jackie” before settling into his recurring role on OITNB.
Matthew Van Dyne
The work of Matthew Van Dyne, BFA ’79, Acting, MA ’81, Theatrical Design, transcends
Just look at the variation of the shows he’s worked as a costume supervisor or
designer: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Cheers,” “The
Shield,” “Murphy Brown,” “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” and CBS Sports programming,
just to name quite a few.
Impressive for a guy from Pine Grove, W.Va., who went straight to the Hollywood
area after college with his portfolio in hand looking for work.
For a more in-depth profile of Van Dyne, look out for the upcoming fall issue
Not a picture of Scott Simons
Whenever you're in need of a children’s show theme song singer and are in trouble,
will be there on the double!
Simons, BA ’98, Music Theory and Composition, is the lead singer of the “Paw Patrol”
theme, which may or may not drive parents of youngsters bonkers. He’s also credited
as a singer for the themes of “Veggie Tales,” “Duck Tales (2017)” and “The Thundermans.”
Simons, a former member of the Mountaineer Marching Band, jazz band and concert
band (talk about overachieving), also currently serves as an assistant music producer
on “America's Got Talent.” We’d say he has a ton of it himself.
You don’t need to study acting to make it big.
got his bachelor’s degree in marketing before going on to establish
himself as Holt McLaren in “Dirt,” Detective William LaMontagne Jr. in “Criminal
Minds” and now as Solotov in “Shooter.”
The Diana, W.Va., native has stayed true to his Mountain State roots and is currently
directing a film on the opioid crisis called “Back Fork.”
Another unsung behind-the-scenes TV hero you probably never heard of is Dan Fisher,
BFA ’86, Theatre.
You may not even be aware that his occupation exists – property (or prop) master.
A property master acquires and oversees the use of props for a production.
Fisher, who returned to the School of Theatre and Dance for a guest lecture in
2015, grew up in Middlebourne, W.Va.
His credits are quite extensive, spanning the last few decades: “The Americans,”
“Mozart in the Jungle,” “Girls,” “Law and Order” and “The Adventures of Pete
& Pete” (there’s a throwback for us millennials).
instructs students as a teaching associate professor in the
College of Creative Arts.
At night, she was on TV playing the recurring role of Helen Vicks on the Cinemax
show “Banshee,” which ended a four-season run in 2016.
O’Dell, MFA ’95, Theatre, also recently appeared on an episode of “Outsiders.”
Former Miss West Virginia
, BFA ’94, Acting, has worked on national TV for more than two
decades, mostly as a “shopping goddess” and familiar face to those who've watched
QVC or HSN.
A graduate of the College of Creative Arts, Dawn Denoon was co-executive producer
of “The Blacklist,” a consulting producer for “Blue Bloods” and a producer for
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” of which she also wrote several episodes.
As president of E! Entertainment, Adam Stotsky, BA '91, Communication Studies,
is quite a goliath among corporate executives in NBCUniversal. He oversees E!,
from the programming to the production to the social media.
He joined E! in 2014 as general manager and was promoted to president in 2016.
This means you can hold him responsible for “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
(Special thanks to Octavia Spriggs and Bernadette Dombrowski of the College
of Creative Arts for their assistance.)