10 notable celebrities, leaders who started out at UCF
In less than a month, hundreds of students will walk across a stage, take their diploma and become UCF alumni. While many will go on to lead perfectly respectable, normal lives, many alumni and former students have achieved fame on the big screen, in the board room and in the recording studio.
The Central Florida Future has compiled a list of 10 of some of the most famous UCF alumni and former students, from models to comedians to CEOs.
Daniel Tosh is an American comedian, television host, actor, writer and executive producer. He hosts the Comedy Central TV show, Tosh.0. Tosh was born in Boppard, Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany, but grew up in Titusville. According to starpulse.com, he graduated from UCF in December 1996 with a degree in marketing. One of his first jobs following graduation was a telemarketer. Tosh claims living in Florida has influenced his decision to work in comedy.
Cheryl Ruth Hines
Cheryl Ruth Hines is an American actress, comedian, producer and director. She is best known for her role as Cheryl on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which resulted in two Emmy nominations. Hines is also well known for her role opposite Robin Williams in the 2006 film RV and as Dallas Royce on the ABC sitcom Suburgatory. According to her IMDB profile, she attended West Virginia University, Florida State University and graduated from UCF.
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez are film directors known for their work on The Blair Witch Project. The success of the film brought a sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. The pair graduated from UCF's film program.
Mónica Spear Mootz
Mónica Spear Mootz was born Oct. 1, 1984. She won Miss Venezuela in 2004, and represented Venezuela at Miss Universe 2005, where she finished 4th runner up. According to her IMDB profile, Spear Mootz graduated from UCF with a bachelor's degree in theatre. On Jan. 6, 2014, Spear Mootz and her ex-husband were killed during an attempted robbery in her native Venezuela.
Jim Atchison is an American business executive. He was the president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, according to the UCF Board of Trustees website. Atchison graduated from USF with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and from UCF with a master's in business administration. He currently serves as a member of the UCF Board of Trustees.
Julia Ann Pierson
Julia Ann Pierson was the 23rd director of the United States Secret Service. Pierson graduated from UCF in 1981 with a degree in criminal justice, the Orlando Sentinel reports. She became director of the Secret Service in March 2013. But due to a series of security errors involving the agency, she resigned in 2014.
Plies, born Algernod Lanier Washington, is an American rapper worth nearly $14 million, according to bornrich.com. Before his music career, Plies went to Miami University and played football from 1995 to 1997. After that, he went to UCF and eventually dropped out, starting Big Gates Records with his stepbrother thereafter. One of his notable singles is "Shawty."
Thomas Pentz "Diplo"
Thomas Pentz, better known by his stage name Diplo, is a Grammy-nominated American DJ, music producer, rapper and songwriter. He attended UCF as a film major in 1997. According to Paste Magazine, Pentz left UCF to continue his studies at Temple University, where he first gained attention as a DJ. Diplo founded and manages his own record company, Mad Decent. Pentz previously worked as a schoolteacher in Philadelphia. He has worked on many other projects throughout his career, including Major Lazer and Jack Ü.
Allen Weiss is the president of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He began his career at Disney, according to UCFKnights.com, in 1972 as a cast member and rose the ranks to previously serve as the executive vice president, and then president, of the Walt Disney World Resort. He holds a bachelor's degree from UCF and an MBA from Rollins College.
Ericka Dunlap, a UCF graduate with a degree in advertising-public relations, took the Miss America crown in 2004. Previously, she was crowned as the first African American Miss Florida. Since her crowning, she has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Hollywood Squares and the O'Reilly Factor.
Erin West is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.
Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at AdamR@CentralFloridaFuture.com