Trending :: June 12, 2013
COD Alum Jim Belushi Helps Raise $380,000 for Foundation With
March 8 Visit to The Mac in Glen Ellyn
Posted March 9, 2014 by Kristen Kucharski, Glancer Magazine
Photos by Mike Mantucca
Actor and comedian, Jim Belushi, who was born and raised in Wheaton and was a 1974 graduate of the College of DuPage, returned to his alma mater to help raise money for the College of DuPage Foundation and The John Belushi Scholarship Fund, The Cleve Carney Art Gallery and Endowed Art Fund, the New Philharmonic Fund and the MAC General Fund. Belushi and the Board of Comedy featuring Megan Grano, Brad Morris, Larry Joe Campbell, and Joshua Funk (all Second City veterans) headlined a special benefit performance in the newly renovated McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn, helping to raise nearly $380,000 in a single evening.
COD President Dr. Robert L. Breuder also announced the renaming of the McAninch Arts Center's Performance Hall to the 'Belushi Performance Hall'. Belushi, in association with The Second City, created The John Belushi Scholarship Fund in honor of his brother and fellow COD alum, John, providing recipients with full tuition and fees at the College of DuPage, and is available to both acting and technical theater students, as well as music students.
“Most scholarships are awarded to people with great academic records,” Belushi says. “My brother John and I didn’t necessarily have those smarts; we weren’t the greatest in science and math; but we had a different savvy, a different smart, so The John Belushi Scholarship supports students who have that potential and need the money.” With young children of his own, Belushi says higher education is extremely important in his household. “Higher education is where you develop a relationship with yourself and your passion.” Belushi was involved in over 40 productions by the time he left COD. “It’s all about the 10,000 hours and the great thing about the College of DuPage is that they give you an opportunity to get those hours,” he adds. “The College of DuPage was affordable and the teachers really cared; that caring gave me confidence and hope.” - Kristen Kucharski
1. I know you credit the College of DuPage for having a major impact on your life – how so?
I started in the summer theatre program sophomore year of high school. I met Richard Holgate, Jack Weisman, and BF Johnson. They took a liking to me and encouraged me and made me feel talented. Then I went the next summer and the summer after that. And then I became a student at College of DuPage. These men, along with Jody Briggs and Jim Collie, were so instrumental in setting my skill set as an actor and full knowledge of performance in the theatre. Also the College of DuPage was affordable for me. They gave me a small job as an assistant and I learned everything from lighting to set building to painting and costuming. I learned to sing, dance, act. From sophomore year in high school to the time I left COD, I was involved with over 40 productions- plays, musicals, readers theatre, and the speech program. I was a pro before I left COD. The opportunity and access to perform was generous and substantial to who I am as an actor. Not to mention all the love I got there. The teachers at COD really cared and that caring gave me confidence and hope.
2. Many scholarships are for a few thousand dollars - The John Belushi Scholarship provides the recipient with FULL tuition and fees at College of DuPage. Why was this so imperative?
Most scholarships are awarded to people with great academic records. My brother John and I didn’t necessary have those smarts; we weren’t the greatest in science and math. But we had a different savvy, a different smart. The John Belushi Scholarship supports students who have that potential and need the money. When I was going to COD, I was broke. And all those teachers found ways for me to make some money, whether it was helping in the theatre or helping Mr. Holgate paint and remodel kitchens and bathrooms and putting roofs on other teachers’ houses.
3. You have two children that will be making decisions to further their education in the very near future. How important is higher education in your household?
Higher education is the most important. My father came to America as an immigrant and it was something that he always wanted for us. I was the only one in the family to graduate. My kids are on track to go to college, there’s not even a question about it…. yet. There’d better not be! Higher education is where you get your experience and where you learn to learn. You develop a relationship with yourself and your passion. Otherwise you’re stuck in the world between the ages of 18-22, working just to pay your rent and car insurance. Man, you’ve got to do that the rest of your life! Let’s postpone that.
4. For theater students that dream of graduating high school, skipping college, and moving to Hollywood to “make it big” – what message would you send to them?
Well unless they are as talented as Kobe Bryant, I would go to college. In order to be really successful and be a great performer in anything you do, you need to have experience on the boards. The College of DuPage gave me a lot of time on the stage. I was in 40 productions between sophomore year in high school and sophomore year in college, so when I went to the University, I was almost professional status as far as experience. I really believe that as an actor, or anything you do, you have to have a base of knowledge and experience and that’s what you get in college, unless you are simply brilliant, like a Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift if you hear her story, she was playing in clubs at 16 and she was consuming herself with experience. It’s all about the 10,000 hours and the great thing about the College of DuPage is that they give you an opportunity to get those hours.
5. What’s next for your personal career?
I’m living the “next.” I’m living my goal. I’m in it! I’m having a ball. I’ve done everything I wanted and I’m doing everything I want to. But more specifically, I’m on the road with Dan Aykroyd doing the Blues Brothers, on the road with the Board of Comedy. I just finished a film called “A Change of Heart,” directed by Kenny Ortega. I shot two small independent movies called “Undrafted” and “North of Hell.” I’m working on a multitude of television projects. And I’m trying to get to all the basketball and flag football games my son is in and all the plays my daughter is in. Like I said, I’m IN the next, I’m IN the magic. I’m loving it.