From Calvin to Hollywood

From Calvin to Hollywood

You can hear Kiff VandenHeuvel’s voice in TV commercials and video games like “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

You can see him in the Michael Douglas/Matt Damon film Behind the Candelabra or the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. And on weekends you can find him on Buena Vista Street at Disneyland’s California Adventure—he’ll be the one in the “Calvin the Cop” costume.

Calvin College gave me the tools and freedom to explore what my work life could be. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

“This profession is a challenging one,” says Kiff ’92, a professional actor since 2000, “but it’s one that I have found I’m pretty good at, I think- in no small part due to the fact that I’ve focused on keeping myself flexible and diverse.”

“Flexible and diverse” could describe Kiff’s Calvin education, too. As a student, he took full advantage of Calvin’s liberal arts curriculum, in part because he wasn’t sure where he was headed. He took acting classes, learned videography, joined the improv team—and yes, struggled through his core classes, too—all in search of a future career.

His professors and advisers, however, made sure Kiff never got too far off track.

“I was not an ideal student,” he admits. “I bounced around a lot in terms of what I wanted to get out of college. However, that four-year span at Calvin was a perfect model for the kind of life that I’d be able to have in the future. And [professor] Quentin Schultze made it all possible by nurturing relationships to provide me with my first production job on a TV show, Christy, some 19-odd years ago.”

Now, in his day-to-day life, Kiff narrates audio books, directs sketch comedy shows, teaches improv and voice acting classes, and performs both on camera and behind the microphone—a job every bit as varied as his Calvin career.

“Calvin College gave me the tools and freedom to explore what my work life could be. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”

VERGE: spring 2014

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