Actor and comedian Echo Kellum knows funny. From an early age the Chicago native felt the pull of comedy as he entertained classmates or hammed it up around the dinner table. When he walked into his first improv class in Los Angeles years ago, Echo was instantly hooked by the thrill of being on stage with nothing but his quick wit.
“I knew this was right up my alley and it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of how free and physical you are,” Echo says. “You are the actor, writer, director, choreographer and editor all instantaneously on stage and have to do it all on the fly. You have to bring the funny and make people laugh each week.”
He continues to develop and perfect his craft by performing with comedy troupes The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Echo also earned comedic chops working on shows including Key and Peele and Sean Saves the World with Sean Hayes, as well as starring in the Netflix film Girlfriend’s Day with Bob Odenkirk released on Valentine’s Day. Lately, you can see him playing Curtis Holt (or Mr. Terrific) on CW’s hit series Arrow. He says his current role, an openly gay character on Team Arrow, is a tribute to a family member and father figure he calls “Pops.”
WHO HAS TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT HAPPINESS?
The man who stepped in the place of my father when he passed away. He is my cousin by blood, but when I was 12, he kind of stepped into that role.…He is definitely one of those people who taught me how to maintain happiness and how to strive for what you believe in. He is actually a person of the LGBT community, which is why it makes this current role [Curtis Holt] special. It’s like I am doing it for him. He has wisdom and has helped me get to where I am today.
WHEN DID YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD LAST?
Every time I am in a group chat with my friends. I grew up in the inner city and our love is shown through roasting each other. It’s from a loving place. We are the type of friends who have each other’s backs. We have known each other since we were 9 years old, and we have been through thick and thin together.
I use a lot of comedy and humor to lighten up situations and to be silly. People around me are kind of in the same vein, so we all kind of flow and have a natural way we speak to each other. It’s a constant state of euphoria from being silly.”
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I am passionate about my kids and work—the whole experience of life and trying to take the most out of each day. I’m just thankful to be here and doing what I love to do…I am pretty much passionate about all the cool things life has to offer.
WHAT IS YOUR “GO TO” BOOK, MOVIE OR TV SHOW TO LIFT YOUR MOOD?
The show I have been watching lately is Nathan for You on Comedy Central. It is so absurd and silly.
HOW DO YOU LIVE HAPPY?
I take every day as a gift, and I feel blessed and fortunate that we are on this journey. I surround myself with people I love, create art that means something to people and I smile. Even just smiling releases endorphins and things inside of you that make you happy.
Chris Libby is the section editor for Live Happy magazine.