UK Student Activity Board hosts actor Josh Peck

Internet comedian Josh Peck shares a conversation with moderator Samantha Valentino during a SAB event on Sunday, May 1, 2022, in the Worsham Cinema in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Martha McHaney | Staff

Rana Alsoufi

The social media personality and “Drake and Josh” actor Josh Peck visited the University of Kentucky on Sunday, May 1, as part of the Student Activity Board’s SpeakBlue Distinguished Speakers series.

Peck, who is best known for his days as a Nickelodeon star, has most recently acted in “How I Met Your Father” and the “iCarly” reboot. He is also set to make an appearance in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” Peck was invited to UK following data polling conducted by SAB as a means of determining who students wanted to see on campus.

The event took place in the Worsham Cinema inside of the Gatton Student Center. Doors opened around 6:30 p.m., but a line beginning at the doors of the cinema and ending outside the doors of the Student Center began forming before 6 p.m. Many attendees were excited to see Peck in person and were looking forward to hearing what he had to say.

Freshman Sebastian Candia said that he was just excited to see Peck talk.

“I was a ‘Drake and Josh’ fan as a kid, and I’ve seen some of his other works,” Candia said.

Other attendees expressed similar sentiments, saying that they were mainly excited about getting to be in Peck’s presence and listening to him talk about his career as an actor and social media star.

Sophomore Avery Page said she was looking forward to “telling everyone I know that I saw Josh Peck.”

The event began at 7 p.m. with opening remarks from former SAB president Breona Link. Link introduced Peck and the moderator for the evening, UK broadcast journalism major Samantha Valentino, who had previously moderated the YouTubeU event featuring David Dobrik in 2020.

Peck opened his talk with a joke about how he felt “compelled to burn down State Street” stepping foot into Lexington. The audience laughed at various moments throughout the talk, as Peck told stories about different moments in his life and reflected on some of the highs and lows of his career.

He spoke about his introduction to acting, his experiences starring in “Drake and Josh,” his life as the child of a single mother, being a father and more, implementing all forms of comedy into his talk as well.

One particular story that the audience especially enjoyed was one of Peck’s recent interactions at an airport and being recognized by a TSA agent.

“He gives me my ID back and I’m, like, walking through, and he’s like, ‘Hug me, brother.’ Like, did you just drive-by ‘Hug me, brother?’” Peck said, causing the audience to erupt into laughter.

Peck also talked about his new memoir “Happy People Are Annoying,” which details his life and career and reveals many of his struggles with drugs, fame and mental health as someone who entered the acting business so early in his life.

“I feel like inherently, memoirs and self-help books, they feel like they’re written by people that have gotten past the finish line, or they’re at the mountain top,” Peck said. “For me, I wanted to write a book that was views from the halfway point.”

As someone who struggled in various ways throughout his career, Peck hopes that his book will offer encouragement and empathy for anyone who may be going through the same things he did.

“My life has so been benefited by people being honest with me, and saying, ‘Here’s my struggle, so don’t feel alone in yours.’ This book felt like my opportunity to do that,” he said.

Throughout his talk, Peck offered words of advice for UK students, especially for graduating seniors about to step into the professional world.

“You might get what you always wanted, just not in the way you expected,” Peck said.

Overall, Peck’s humorous and enlightening talk was well-received by the UK students who attended. The first 100 attendees were given a signed copy of “Happy People Are Annoying” to take home after the talk.

The SpeakBlue Distinguished Speakers series has welcomed various public figures to the UK campus, from actors such as Viola Davis and Rainn Wilson to reality television personalities like Antoni Porowski and Bobby Berk. Ally Carson, the new president of SAB, hopes that the return of SpeakBlue on campus will impact students in various ways.

“Students want to see people, and we want to bring who the students want,” Carson said.