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Keegan-Michael Key’s Path to Stardom Began at University of Detroit Mercy

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Keegan-Michael Key is on the kind of roll professional funnymen and actors can only dream about.

The “MadTV” alum and star of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” found himself onstage with President Obama this spring, serving as anger translator during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Key has had big roles in summer movies “Tomorrowland” and “Pitch Perfect 2” and has several big roles on tap.

Buzzfeed declared him “the most important comedian right now.”

That’s quite a feather in the cap for Key, who credits the University of Detroit Mercy’s acclaimed performing arts program with nurturing his love of performing and putting him on a path to success.

“I loved college,” Key told the Varsity News. “Especially with a liberal arts college, it’s there to teach you how to learn. I learned practical skills for what it was that I wanted to do for a living.”

He is one of several alums of the award-winning performing arts program. Others have appeared on Broadway, in movies such as “Spiderman” and on legendary TV shows such as “Seinfeld” and “Magnum PI.”

A Detroit native, Key considered many schools. He went to private high school and knew he wanted to act. He was drawn to UDM by its artistic director, David Regal, who helped hone his talents and work ethic.

“Like most students, he grew slowly,” Regal told Varsity News. “He did extra things that escalated his growth as an artist. He organized a once-a-week improv group on campus and ran it, which became wildly popular. He was aggressive in finding things to do in the art and pushing himself.”

Two decades after graduating in 1993, Key still visits the school and remains close to Regal.

Those sorts of relationships are the hallmark at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.
The schools are guided by passion and community. Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.