Theatre Names 2018-2019 Distinguished Alumnus and Season Preview Keynote Speaker

by | Apr 5, 2019 | Alumni, Alumni Awards & Achievements, Dean's Corner

Craig Brooks

The University of Arkansas Department of Theatre is proud to name Craig Brooks as its 2018-2019 Distinguished Alumnus. Brooks graduated from the Department of Theatre – then the Department of Drama – with a Bachelor of Arts in 1994. 

As this year’s Distinguished Alumnus, Brooks will be honored at the Department of Theatre’s annual Season Preview and Scholarship Reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 4. He will also be the keynote speaker for the event.

Brooks is the third person to receive this honor, joining previous Distinguished Alumni including comedian/actress/writer Sarah Colonna and actor/singer Rob Sutton.

Brooks credits both the work ethic and training he received at the University of Arkansas as contributing to his very successful career, “I use so many of the performance skills I learned from my time as a drama student every day – writing scripts, rehearsing blocking, working beats.”

Brooks said he chose the University of Arkansas after spending time in Fayetteville visiting his grandmother and other family throughout his childhood. Though he graduated high school in Florida, Brooks said he always knew he was going to be a Razorback. While attending school at the U of A, he lived with his grandmother and helped out on her farm near campus.

Craig Brooks working in the control room.

After college, Brooks spent a year touring as an actor/director with the Missoula Children’s Theatre, playing the role of Johnny Appleseed. He then moved to Chicago to pursue acting. 

While living in Chicago, he acted in a variety of productions and taught theatre and performance at Misericordia Home, a home for children and adults with developmental disabilities. He also co-directed the Heartbreakers performance group, who performed all over the Chicagoland area, including at the Americans with Disabilities annual conference and the 1996 Democratic Conventions opening ceremonies. 

In 1999, Brooks moved to Florida to be with his now-wife, Dorothy, who was beginning graduate school. While living in Miami, he worked as the Artistic Director of Chrom Studios, where he directed the original voiceover for two seasons of “Nico” for BRB International, as well as a variety of foreign films and TV series dubbed into English. After Dorothy’s graduation, the pair made the move to Los Angeles so that Brooks could pursue a career in film and television production.

DJ Kahled and Craig Brooks during the filming of Hip Hop Squares.

Upon arriving in Los Angeles, reality television was booming. Brooks quickly found work as a producer, starting with the MTV dating show Taildaters. He also became a founding member of a reality TV development company called The G Group, created by the showrunner of American Idol, Brian Gadinsky.

As a member of the G Group, Brooks worked on television shows for FOX, TLC, VH1, TBS and BET.  After leaving the G Group, he worked with closely with Bruce Nash of Nash Entertainment where he helped pitch, develop and produce series for The WB, FOX and TBS. 

Brooks then worked for MTV, most notably as a supervising and co-executive producer for the dating series Parental Control. Eventually, he moved to game shows, beginning with the ABC series “Million Dollar Mind Game” for Merv Griffin Entertainment.

As his interest in game shows grew, Brooks was given the opportunity to work as a showrunner for Family Game Night. After two seasons on Family Game Night, he worked with MTV2 on the first season of Hip Hop Squares and became showrunner on the reboot of Nick Cannon’s Wild N’ Out series. 

Craig Brooks, comedian/actress/writer Sarah Colonna, and comedian Ben Gleib, the host of Idiotest.

After that, Brooks was hired as a supervising producer on NBC’s Million Second Quiz, hosted by Ryan Seacrest. Brooks then began a long stint executive producing series for GSN (Game Show Network), including Idiotest, Mind of a Man, Baggage on the Road, and Emogenius; a show he created that is currently on Netflix. He was also a co-executive producer on the Jimmy Kimmel series for ABC, Big Fan. 

Brooks is currently executive producer and showrunner for the Facebook Watch daily trivia game show Confetti. It is a half hour live gameshow that livestreams every weekday at 8:30 p.m. CST.

Brooks’ favorite part of his current job is, “I get to give away money to people through games and that’s a really great thing. Just the other day a woman posted on our fan group page after winning around $450 that her husband was in the hospital and that that money was really going to help her out. It’s a blessing to be able to do what I love and, in some way, actually help someone.”

“I still rehearse and prepare, only now it’s usually for pitch meetings or run-throughs,“ Brooks said. “Right now, I’m on a game show but it all goes back to what I learned in college and my training there. I’ve found there are a lot of people who want success in Los Angeles, but not a lot of people who are willing to put in the time and work to become a success.”

Brooks and his wife Dorothy have two boys, Garrett and Jake, who keep them quite busy. Brooks said that his passion for his work fuels him even in his downtime, and he is always working on new ideas and pitches.

Visit the Department of Theatre online for more information about its programs and performances.

Ashley Cohea

Theatre Business Manager, Department of Theatre 

479-575-6067 // acohea@uark.edu