Spend a few moments listening to Kim Rhodes ’91 and words like love, passion, creativity and collaboration, all come to the forefront. Raised in southeast Portland, Kim found out about what was then Southern Oregon State College (SOSC), through her guidance counselor at Benson Tech High School, then travelled to Ashland for an open house and immediately fell in love with the campus and the community. “I knew right away that this was the place for me so I didn’t even bother applying to another college,” she said.
Arriving on campus, Kim had thoughts of becoming an English teacher. After all, both of her parents were educators and the transition seemed logical to her. Thinking that her time in front of a classroom would put her on the spot, she took a beginning acting class her freshman year to help prepare her and to get a feel for sharing center stage in front of other people. She was instantly hooked. “I fell in love with that acting class and felt very comfortable and at ease being in the spotlight,” she said. “It made me feel as though I was in charge of my own creative narrative, which is a tremendous boost in confidence for a young person far from home. It was an obvious choice for me to pick theatre as my major.”
As Kim immersed herself academically into SOSC, a couple of teachers rose to the top as her favorites, Chris Sackett in the theatre program and Douglas Legg in the history department. “Chris was very professional but friendly and shared his experiences, wisdom and passion with students rather than his opinion, which isn’t always the norm with college instructors. Mr. Legg taught us to focus on concepts rather than memorization of dates in our History of Western Civilization courses. After the fall of the Berlin Wall December of 1989, he came into our class right before the final with his 3×5 index review card, looked at us and said ‘I can’t top that in history!’ So, he ripped up the card, threw it in the air and said ‘I’ll see you at the final!’ That brought a huge roar from the students,” she said. “I loved teachers who shared their love and passion for their subjects with us.”
Kim graduated summa cum laude June of 1991, earning her bachelor’s in fine arts. Her next stop was graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she would earn her master’s in fine arts and graduate in 1994. In the summer, she moved to Spring Green, Wisconsin, where she had the opportunity to perform live in the American Players Theatre. She then moved to New York City and worked off Broadway. In 1996 she was hired for the daytime soap opera Another World, where she stayed until the program was cancelled in 1999.
When she was in Spring Green performing, she met a director from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), who encouraged her to join for a season in the future. She accepted the offer and performed for the 2005 season, where she portrayed the roles of “Daphne Stillington” in Noël Coward‘s Present Laughter and “Helena” in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “It was very special to return to Ashland and perform at OSF, it’s a world class operation with a high level of artistry,” said Kim. She earned her first break in Hollywood when she landed the role of “Carey Martin” in the Disney Channel sitcom The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, in 2005. Kim acted on that series for three seasons then had a baby daughter with her husband, Travis Hodges. Most recently, she acted as “Sheriff Jody Mills” in the wildly popular fifteen-year CW television series Supernatural, from 2010-2020.
“I loved the location of SOU and its proximity to OSF. It was a magical place and even to this day, when I connect on Zoom with friends, it’s with my classmates from the SOU theatre program. I learned so much in that program and I really believe so much of my attitude of working collaboratively, comes from SOU. In that program, you learn that there are many moving parts and that acting isn’t just ‘all about me.’ You literally work and experience everything in that program from sound to lights to stage to costumes. For an actor, that is a lifesaving tip that I will always pass on as wisdom to others.”
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