Published on October 16, 2019 by Sarah Cain  
Two-time Emmy-winning actor and Howard College alumnus Tony Hale continues to provide a Samford connection to iconic Hollywood projects. In the last year, Hale’s roles have added several milestone achievements to his acclaimed career including a movie box office record, an Emmy nomination and the unveiling of a new Netflix series, Archibald’s Next Big Thing.

Hale, a 1992 graduate, earned his sixth Emmy nomination for playing Gary Walsh opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus on HBO’s political comedy Veep, a character that already won him Emmys in 2013 and 2015. The nomination comes at the close of the series’ seven-season run.

Just weeks later, Hale’s role as Forky helped Disney Pixar’s legendary Toy Story franchise become the first studio to have five films gross over $1 billion globally in a single year. Hale voiced the handmade spork-turned-toy, joining the beloved cast of characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Bo Peep.

Forky, a toy fashioned out of a spork, became an instant audience favorite with kids and parents immediately creating their own homemade versions. Hale’s interest in the character came from Forky’s backstory of embracing worthiness as trash-turned-toy.

Hale will immediately turn his focus on his latest venture that continues the theme of sharing positive messages with younger audiences on the heels of these two career highlights. He is producer and titular character of the Netflix animated comedy series Archibald’s Next Big Thing. The series is based on a children’s book Hale published in 2014 and spoke about at a past campus visit to Samford. He shared the importance of the book’s message of embracing and enjoying the present.

“When [Archibald] is on an adventure, he’s always looking for the next big thing,” Hale said of the story’s main character. “You have extreme value where you are. It’s not about what you might get.”

For Hale personally, his faith has supported his efforts to live in the moment.

“I think prayerful meditation, being still in a space, being still with God, I don’t do that enough,” he said in an interview with NPR. “It’s so centering, and it broadens the picture of life, really. I mean, you just kind of go, ‘We’re spinning on a planet, here. And I’m giving a lot of anxiety and a lot of weight to stuff that just doesn’t matter,’ and it’s so focusing.”

Archibald’s Next Big Thing premiered on Netflix in September.  

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.

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