Ty Burrell plays the hapless “Phil Dumphy” on the ultrapopular, award-winning sitcom “Modern Family.” Miles Brown is the youngest cast member on the breakout comedy “Blackish.” What do these two have in common other than both being on hit ABC TV shows? They both share a passion for “Kids In The Spotlight” a charitable organization that trains foster kids, ages 11 to 19, to work in the film and television industry. The kids then write, cast, create and star in their own short films.
On the red carpet at the recent K.I.T.S. “Movies by Kids for Kids” screening and awards show, both actors talked about their work with this great charity and more.
Question: How did you get involved with the organization?
Ty Burrell: I met [K.I.T.S. founder and executive director] Tige Charity through Tamesha Scott, who she was working with at a company that was doing an episode on [“Modern Family”]. I told her that my father had been involved in the foster care system. He was a case worker. She said, “Oh, wow, you should really take a look at this organization I’m on the board of.”
It took about two minutes of looking over their brochure to see what a perfect idea it was. I had done some work with the 57th street Y[MCA] in New York, which is essentially a theater version of this. This is such a perfect idea. On all levels this is good for a young person.
Q: What is the ultimate goal with this program and the kids?
TB: There are few things, really. I think part of why this program is so incredible is that it’s operating on multiple levels. I think the most important part of the program is giving voice to young humans who are often marginalized or sometimes invisible to the world. They are getting a chance to tell their story.
Sometimes they are very personal. They are tough. Sometimes it’s just a zombie movie or whatever. It’s them getting a chance to tell a story that they want to tell.
The second aspect is that it’s good for anybody’s self-esteem to be given a big project. And they take this project from beginning and carry it all the way through to the end. Writing, casting. It’s a lot, and they have to follow this through. I didn’t have great self-esteem when I was a kid, and I didn’t follow through on anything, to be totally frank. These guys are all showing up here today having finished a short film.
The last part of me that is maybe least important, but is really thrilling, is that there is a vocational side to it. A lot of these kids end up going, “Oh, I’m really interested in sound. Or lighting.” Because this is donated time from professionals behind the camera, doing lights, makeup, hair in a mentor/mentee situation. A lot of these kids come out of here saying, “I want to be a director or an actor or work behind the camera.”
Q: Why are you here today?
Miles Brown: I just came here to support. I was here last year, and I love how each one of these students gets to make movies and do what they like to do. They get awarded for that. Which is really cool.
Q: Who inspired you to be an actor?
MB: Really it was Robert Downey Jr. He’s my favorite superhero and actor. I love his “Iron Man” movies. He is probably one of my biggest acting inspirations.
Q: “Blackish” is so fun to watch. Is it as fun to make?
MB: Yes, it is. Probably even [more fun]. We are always joking around on set. The bloopers are everything and are very funny.
Q: What advise do you have for other kids who want to be an actor like you?
MB: If you dream big you can inspire many. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Just keep doing what you like to do and have fun.
Q: Where do see yourself in the future?
MB: I really want to be an NBA basketball player. My other inspiration is LeBron James. I love to act and play basketball, so I want to do both.
Q: W.C. Fields said you shouldn’t work with animal or children. Do you agree?
TB: I disagree. Completely disagree. Although the animal part? Maybe.