The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Pitt Program Council hosts ‘Drake and Josh’ star Josh Peck

Josh+Peck+speaks+to+students+at+the+William+Pitt+Union+Assembly+Room+on+Thursday.%0A
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Josh Peck speaks to students at the William Pitt Union Assembly Room on Thursday.

The Pitt Program Council hosted a Q&A event with Josh Peck on Thursday, Nov. 30. Known for gaining prominence on the Nickelodeon show “Drake and Josh” from 2004 to 2007, the actor made a comeback to the spotlight last summer with his supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”

Sophia Gill, a sophomore political science, history and public and professional writing major, is the Pitt Program Council’s lecture director. She said the council brought Peck to Pitt because many students would know him from their childhood.

“We decided that he would be a good name to bring in,” Gill said. “A lot of people would be interested in seeing him because they grew up watching his show.”

On the evening of Nov. 30, the event’s moderator, Gigi Butkewitsch, introduced Peck. The audience erupted with cheers and applause. He walked onto the stage with a beaming smile. 

The event started with an hour-long moderated Q&A session, with prepared questions from Butkewitsch. She asked the questions in chronological order, first about Peck’s childhood and life during “Drake and Josh.” They discussed navigating life with social media and comedy and Peck’s personal life, family and upcoming projects.

Throughout the night, Peck answered the questions with a learned blend of insightfulness and comedic timing. He described his childhood and relationship with food with both humor and sincerity. Peck grew up in a single-parent household, and he recalled his favorite TV shows and movies as an essential part of his childhood. 

Peck’s said his career kickstarted after his casting in “The Amanda Show,” where he started to work alongside Amanda Bynes and later Drake Bell, his soon-to-be co-star on their own show. Producers liked the chemistry between Peck and Bell, and soon after, Josh Peck received a phone call that Nickelodeon wanted to make a kids sitcom with him and Bell as leads. Peck said the phone call was transformative and life-changing.

“Drake and Josh” ran for three years with four seasons. Afterward, Peck recalled struggling with his identity and future in acting. He said that he wanted to shed his identity of being the “chubby” kid from a Nickelodeon show. He said a lot of this confusion and misdirection came from his weight loss. After time and some self-discovery, Peck found strength in his identity. 

Later on, Peck said he decided to take his comedy to social media. It started with a few videos on the popular video app Vine. After going viral there, Peck discovered the power of the Internet. He shared wisdom with the crowd, saying that it’s possible to capture anything on a phone if you have courage.

Josh went on to talk about his personal life with his wife and two children. Throughout the event, Peck not only answered Butkewitsch’s questions, but engaged in a candid conversation with her. Butkewitsch said Peck is a genuine, kind person with a vibrant personality.

“Behind the scenes, Josh is a true gentleman, a kind, curious and down-to-earth guy,” Butkewitsch said. “Then he gets on stage and you realize, oh, so that’s why he’s been on TV for 30 years.”

Peck went on to describe projects he’s worked on and people he has encountered in the entertainment industry. Peck said he met actor Tom Cruise while doing research for a show. During the interaction, Peck made a joke, and Cruise laughed. Afterwards, Peck said he went to Dairy Queen because he deserved a “treat.”

The audience Q&A portion of the night consisted of students asking Peck brief questions. Some were more jovial — one student who asked what kind of rock Peck would be reincarnated as — and others more serious, asking if Peck ever got burnt out from any projects.

Gill said the Pitt Program Council hoped that people left the event with joy, and some eagerness to join one of their eight committees.

“We always aim for people to learn something from it. People are a fan of him from childhood, so we wanted students to learn something new about him,” Gill said. “Have a laugh, have some joy. And to feel encouraged to join the committee. We want them to come back and join as a member, to be a part of the whole thing.”

Chelsea Barnes, a sophomore computer science and data science major, said Josh Peck was a huge part of her childhood, and she’s excited for him to be back in the spotlight. 

“Josh was my icon growing up. I’ve always thought he was so hilarious and amazing,” Barnes said. “Seeing him in ‘Oppenheimer’ was amazing. I felt like a proud mom.”

Butkewitsch said she felt honored to moderate the event. She said she now appreciates and respects Peck even more than before the event.

“Towards the end, Josh asked the audience to applaud for me, and that made my entire year,” Butkewitsch said.“He was already one of my childhood heroes, and now I admire him exponentially more.”

About the Contributor
Sanvi Gandikota, Staff Writer
Sanvi Gandikota is a first-year environmental science major and an avid reader and writer. Sanvi has been pursuing her passion of writing since childhood, at first as short stories, and now through TPN. She spent half her childhood in the amazing city of San Francisco, and the other half in the almost as equally stunning state of Virginia. She hopes to one day write a book, so support her now so that you can say you knew her way back when.