2023 Presidential Lecture to welcome W. Earl Brown for “A Racer Success Story”

By Shawn Touney | Jan 19, 2023

W. Earl Brown

Murray State University will welcome W. Earl Brown for the 2023 Presidential Lecture, to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. inside the historic and newly-renovated Lovett Auditorium.

MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State University will welcome W. Earl Brown for the 2023 Presidential Lecture, to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. inside the historic and newly-renovated Lovett Auditorium. The event is a rescheduling of the 2022 Presidential Lecture, which was postponed due to inclement weather. 

Supported by the Murray State University Office of the President, Murray State University Foundation, Inc., and the Student Government Association, the event is free and open to the public. Titled “A Racer Success Story,” the lecture will feature Brown, who will speak of his professional career and experience at Murray State. A Q&A session will follow the lecture. 

“Every success in my life can be traced to seeds planted in Western Kentucky, mostly at Murray State University,” said Brown. “It is an honor to be invited back to speak at my alma mater; it is a blessing to return home.”

"I've had the good fortune to know Earl for many years. As a Murray State University Distinguished Alumni award recipient, Earl is one of the most talented individuals I have known and has a great appreciation and passion for Murray State,” said Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson. “Attendees will enjoy hearing Earl’s story of success, hard work and perseverance while also seeing our beautiful, newly-renovated Lovett Auditorium.” 

Brown was born in nearby Golden Pond, Kentucky. The seeds of his career as an actor and writer were sewn there as he spent his childhood years entertaining any and all who gathered on his grandparent’s front porch. 

During his undergraduate career at Murray State, Brown, a first-generation college student, was heavily involved within both the theatre and journalism and mass communication departments. He won several awards as part of the Speech and Debate team, served as a weather anchor for MSU 11 News, was the co-creator of the MSU 11 comedy show “More Strange Urges” and was actively involved as an actor or director in numerous Murray State theatre productions. He graduated from Murray State in 1986 with degrees in theatre and electronic media.

After graduating from Murray State, Brown received his Master of Fine Arts degree from DePaul University’s Theatre School in 1989. After graduation, he performed in numerous plays around Chicago, but it was his performance in “A View From The Bridge” at the Steppenwolf Theatre that catapulted his career into television and film. His Chicago resume included “Backdraft,” “The Babe,” “Excessive Force” and “Rookie Of The Year,” along with several television roles.

Having hit the proverbial glass ceiling by 1993, Brown moved to Los Angeles. Auditioning for Wes Craven cast Brown in “New Nightmare,” which led to “Vampire In Brooklyn,” which led to “Scream.” Two years later, Brown played the breakout role of “Warren,” Cameron Diaz's mentally challenged brother in “There’s Something About Mary.” Among his credits are the Oscar-nominated films “The Master,” “The Sessions” and “Being John Malkovich.” Recent films include “The Highwaymen,” “Wild,” “Draft Day” and “Black Mass.”  

Brown currently plays a recurring role in the breakout hit from Disney+/Lucasfilm in “The Mandalorian” universe, HBO Max’s hit, “Hacks,” is also currently co-starring in Apple+’s “Five Days at Memorial” and Peacock’s “Paul T. Goldman.” Other recent TV/streaming contract roles include AMC’s “Preacher,” HBO’s second season of “True Detective,” Hulu’s “Reprisal” and ABC’s anthology series, “American Crime.” His many past guest star roles on television include shows such as “Documentary Now!,” “Luck,” “American Horror Story,” “Justified,” “Six Feet Under,” “NYPD Blue,” “X-Files,” “CSI” and “Seinfeld” as well as lead roles in eight pilots. Among the several TV movies he has been involved with included the starring role in VH1’s “Meatloaf: To Hell And Back.” 

Brown also played “Dan Dority” in HBO’s “Deadwood.” During the show’s second season, the show’s creator, David Milch, invited him to join the show’s writing staff. In 2007, Brown earned a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for writing on a drama series and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for best drama ensemble acting. Establishing himself on a show as critically lauded as “Deadwood” opened doors for other writing projects. In 2011, Sony released “Bloodworth,” a film produced and written by Brown.

Recently completed and current projects include Viggo Mortensen’s western, “The Dead Don’t Hurt,” a comedy series titled “Hello Tomorrow” and the character of “George Wallace” in the Shirley Chisholm biopic with Regina King. 

In addition to his television and film work, Brown co-starred in Sony’s “The Last Of Us,” 2014 Video Game Of The Year. He also writes music and records with Sacred Cowboys, an LA-based Americana band.

Brown’s career runs the gamut from television to film, to music, to theatre — from comedy to drama to musical. He considers himself very lucky to have had the many opportunities to play so many varied and diverse characters, with such an array of talented individuals.

Brown received the Murray State University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017, a prestigious honor that is presented annually to alumni who have made meaningful contributions to their profession on a local, state and national level. The award is the highest honor granted by the Murray State University Alumni Association. 

Also in 2017, Brown returned to his roots in Murray State’s theatre department to perform the role of Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” alongside theatre students while mentoring them. Brown has remained very engaged with the department, often returning to the University to lead theatre workshops and host Q&A sessions for current students.

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