Leslie David Baker, famously known as pretzel-loving Stanley Hudson from the sitcom “The Office,” set down his puzzle book to engage with nearly 250 members from the Cal Poly Pomona community through a webinar. The virtual event, A Night with Leslie David Baker, was hosted by ASI’s Bronco Events and Activities Team on Oct. 16.
CPP students and alumni were invited to interact with Baker through a Q&A session and a trivia game with questions relating to “The Office.” In addition to the prepared activities, a few lucky students that registered early for the event were randomly selected to speak with Baker prior to the event.
Henry Ly, a fourth-year music student, expressed his excitement in participating in the webinar. He saw this event as a great opportunity to get a glimpse of Baker’s personality and interests outside of his role as Stanley Hudson, the grumpy sales representative that isn’t afraid to ask his manager if he stuttered.
“It made me realize how dedicated BEAT is to hosting online entertainment for students and that not everything is lost through COVID,” Ly said.
Ly appreciated BEAT’s effort to mold the event into a real-life office environment by having panelists dress in office attire, diverting attendees’ thoughts away from school and the pandemic. He explained that the attire “set the mood” of the event.
Throughout the Q&A session, Baker shared experiences of how his acting career has impacted many people around the world, including an encounter with a fan of “The Office” who watched the show to keep them strong and laughing during chemotherapy.
“As an actor and a human being, I realize what I’m doing is much more than entertainment and making people laugh,” Baker said. “It’s medicine for people and their families to heal, and it helps people to get through the darkest moments.”
Fourth-year sociology student Deira Fuentes registered to attend the event right away because Stanley is her favorite character in the series.
Wanting to take a break from studying for her midterms, Fuentes was thrilled for the opportunity to see Baker outside of his role in “The Office.”
“In this event, it was very surprising and inspirational to learn about how dedicated he was to his education and made the time for his acting career,” Fuentes said.
During the Q&A session, attendees learned that Baker holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in human services administration. Baker completed his master’s degree program while continuing his acting career in the television show “Jack and Mike.”
The free virtual event was originally scheduled for last semester’s Geek Week; however, the event was postponed due to COVID-19.
BEAT Student Activities Supervisor Destiny Boyer shared that this was one of the biggest events she organized — besides Bronco Fusion and another celebrity guest event with Kina Grannis, a singer-songwriter who sang the cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on the soundtrack to “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“We’re looking into getting YouTubers, actors, singers and we’re trying to find a lot of different ways to entertain people during this time,” Boyer said.
Boyer explained that BEAT connected with Baker through ASI Associate Director of Programs Sharon Rocacorba, who reaches out to different agencies across the nation in search of celebrity guest speakers.
Because of BEAT’s existing contract with Baker’s agent, the event adapted to a virtual platform.
“It’s always nice to hear from people that they’re enjoying these events because, one, it inspires us to do a better job creating events and, two, we want to hear what people want,” Boyer added.