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ND Grads in Performing Arts: Kyle Carter

Adriana Pratt | Thursday, April 22, 2010

What does an industrial design major do after graduation? Pursue an acting career, of course. When Kyle Carter, a 2009 Notre Dame graduate, realized the only time he felt alive and excited was on stage, he knew what he was destined to do.
“It was the middle of senior year … and we were at a design conference in Minneapolis, and I’m looking at everyone and how happy they were to be drawing, like ‘Yes I’m going to be a project designer for the rest of my life! This is what I want to do.’ And I’m just sitting there falling asleep,” Carter told The Observer. “The first thing I couldn’t wait to do was go to the Target Center because Britney Spears was playing that night.
“I realized that the only aspect of industrial design that I enjoyed doing was presenting my project to the company.”  
Carter did not pursue a degree in Film, Television and Theatre at Notre Dame but did take on an Italian minor so he could participate in the theatrical performances. While at Notre Dame, he also acted in PEMCo. shows, taking the lead role in both “Ragtime” and “Kiss Me Kate.”
But it was not until the middle of this year that Carter finally realized he wanted to be an actor.
“I had kind of been wavering, not knowing what to do,” Carter said.
That all changed when Jason Robert Brown, writer of the Broadway musical “Parade,” visited Notre Dame’s campus to watch PEMCo.’s production. One student asked him for advice on how to make it in the acting world and his response struck a chord with Carter.
“Jason said, ‘when I was a younger guy I used to come up with this elaborate answer, but in the end if you wake up in the morning and literally everything else sucks but performing, then you’re supposed to be a performer and you’re going to do what you need to do to become that,'” Carter recalled.
Carter recently auditioned to play Jafar in “Aladdin” on a Mediterranean Disney cruise ship. During his interview with The Observer, he still had a Jafar-esque skinny beard hanging from his chin. He won’t hear back from the audition for another month or two, but he said he wants to make sure he looks the part if he gets a callback.
“Auditioning is my favorite part of the process because no one knows anything about you yet,” Carter said. “They look you up and down, and from what I’ve heard from all the people in the industry, literally 95 percent of your battle is what you look like when you get to the audition because they will cast you just out of the fact that you look like what you want.”
If the Disney gig doesn’t work out, Carter’s got back-up plans. He created an audition tape for “Glee” (check out his facebook page “Kyle + Glee = Awesome”) and hopes his video will be shown to the Glee casting director.
Carter already has a film under his belt called “American Covet,” an indie picture about a South Bend girl who’s going nowhere and needs to get out.  He heard about the film during his senior year and scored a role as a drug dealer who becomes the woman’s best friend. “American Covet” was shot in South Bend and is set for release in September.
He also won MTV’s “King of Spring Break” last year, singing “America the Beautiful” in Panama City Beach, Fla. His prize included a Rock Band game set signed by Kid Cudi, Asher Rother and N.E.R.D.
Carter hopes to model his career off actors Taye Diggs and Will Smith, to whom he bears a striking resemblance.
“Everyone says I’m ‘Hitch,'” Carter said. “If they ever do a biography movie about Will Smith, I could easily be his character. I’m almost exactly 20 years younger than him … I wish I could be his brother but unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way sometimes.”
Now, Carter is living in South Bend and working at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. He has also helped out with the PEMCo. shows  “Company” and “Parade,” and coached the Howard Hall Ducks onto a football championship in the fall. He stayed in the area because it was cheap to live here, but he plans to move to Los Angeles at the end of this year if he doesn’t get the Jafar or “Glee” roles.
“In the end, Broadway is what I’d like to do more than anything else, but I really don’t care,” Carter said. “I’m the kind of person that as long as there’s a camera and an audience, that’s good enough for me.”