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One of King’s own returned to campus last week. While at King University on Nov. 6,
actor, producer, director, and alumnus Cylk Cozart spoke at the University’s President’s
Roundtable Breakfast. Cozart spoke on his time at King and how it shaped who he became.
John King, vice president of Development and Enrollment Management for King said,
“As an alumnus of King, we are certainly proud that Cylk went on to be so successful
in the entertainment industry. We were thrilled to have him back on campus for the
first time since he left in the late 70’s”.
In the mid-70’s, Cozart transferred from Montreat College to then King College on
a basketball scholarship. While at King he studied Psychology. Upon leaving King in
1979, he pursued his dream of playing professional ball. A foot injury during the
NBA Summer Pro League he was playing for ended that dream.
When asked what it was like to be back on King’s campus, Cozart said it was very surreal.
“It is very personal to me because when I came to King, I wasn’t thinking so much
about the future. I remember when I first walked onto campus. I was a basketball player
on a scholarship and glad to be at King. For me, one of the great things [about King]
was the professors. You could just go to their cottage anytime and ask questions.
It made me so much more comfortable. Everyone knew how high King was rated academically.
King professors taught me how to study.”
Without realizing it at the time, the professors at King instilled in Cozart a love
for education. “It was a residual affect. At the breakfast this morning, I discussed
how the faculty at King had embraced me; they embraced all the students, but I took
it personally because I didn’t have that anywhere else.
Coach Al Nida, Cozart’s basketball coach at King, was his biggest influence while
here. “I still keep in touch with him after all these years.” Another person at King
who also had a great influence on him was Professor of Theatre Penny Mattice. “I still
talk about her today. She was such a tremendous influence on my career in acting.
Both Coach Nida and Ms. Mattice were so supportive of me.”
After his NBA aspirations came to an end, Cozart spent time in Atlanta working for
a top child psychologist. While working with children through the medium of video,
he had an epiphany about the possibility of him transitioning to a career in acting.
“I thought to myself I could do that. It triggered something in me. That’s where it
began. I didn’t realize at the time that my performances on the basketball court had
helped groom me for a career in acting. It all factored together. The next thing you
know I’m in the number one movie in the country and being flown all over the world.”
His debut acting role was in the movie “Blue Skies Again” opposite Andy Garcia and
Mimi Rogers. Since then he has starred in movies such as “Conspiracy Theory” alongside
Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts; “White Men Can’t Jump” with Woody Harrelson and Wesley
Snipes; and “Eraser” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cozart has 30 films and more than
20 television shows to his credit. He has also spent time acting in shows on Off-Broadway,
dinner theatre, and Theatre-in-the-Round.
Although he has seen substantial success throughout his acting career, Cozart said
he always tried to remain humble. “I don’t think you are born with humility; it is
something you acquire. When I left King, one major thing Coach Nida taught me that
I took away was to be humble. I have carried that all through my career.”
During his visit to King, Cozart took time to meet with several Theatre students.
He shared with them the importance of understanding the differences between the mediums
of television, film, and theatre. “If you don’t know the difference between those
three mediums, you are not going to utilize yourself to the max. Actors control Theatre;
writers control television; but for movies, the director has the control.” He stressed
to the students that acting is not just singing and dancing; it is communication.”
Associate Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Dollar commented, “The theatre students were
thrilled to meet Cylk. His journey in the film, TV, and theatre industry is an inspiration
to them. Cylk’s success has come not only from his talent but also his work ethic
and dedication, and that's what the next generation needs to see.”
Today, Cozart has moved from Los Angeles back home to Knoxville, Tenn. He has established
his own production company, Coz’Arts Entertainment, of which he is the CEO. The company
has several divisions including a consulting business and management company.
“Through my consulting business, I teach acting to doctors, lawyers, and business
people. If you are a lawyer, in essence, you are an actor. [The lawyer] has to convince
the jury that his client did not do that of which he is accused. I thought it would
be a good idea to teach a different way of communication to those who may affect our
lives in dramatic ways.
“People want to share their emotions and express themselves. I found out through being
an actor, teaching acting, and now, being a director that everyone craves that. When
you can figure out how a person’s brain works – how they learn – you can move them
into a place about which they are passionate,” added Cozart.
Cozart’s time spent at King studying psychology, performing theatre, and playing on
the basketball court along with time spent absorbing life-lessons from the professors
and coaches are still evident today. It is easy to see that his passion for learning
is evident through all his endeavors.
“I like to leave things a little better than they were before I came,” exclaimed Cozart.
King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King
College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees
and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences,
pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration,
education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and
travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and
a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King
University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of
any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University
is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact
the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road,
Richlands, VA 24641.