Communication Graduate Wins Emmy

Kathryn Burns

Kathryn Burns, BA ‘02 communication, won a Creative Arts Emmy for choreography for three musical numbers on the CW television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. (Photo credit: William Callan)

Jordan Yount
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science

Kathryn Burns, BA ‘02 communication, doesn’t actually dance on the CW television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but the former MU Golden Girl certainly knows how to “bust a move.” Burns is the choreographer for all of the musical numbers on the show and just won an Emmy for three of them.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a comedy about a girl (Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch) with a high-profile legal job in New York City who runs into her former sweetheart from summer camp on the streets of New York and ditches everything—including her medications—to move to West Covina, California, to be with him. Her fantasies and the strange situations her friends deal with become musical numbers in the show. Burns says she choreographs about two musical numbers per episode. Burns won the Creative Arts Emmy for three of those numbers.

Music Video Choreography

“So for me it was a number called ‘Settle for Me,’ which is like a Fred (Astaire) and Ginger (Rogers) tap dance about a guy who knows he is second-best but is asking if she’ll settle for him, and then ‘Boy Band of Four Joshes’ who are medical professionals helping her through her psychoses as a ’90s boy band, and the other is ‘I’m So Good at Yoga,’ which is a Bollywood yoga dance about her first yoga class,” Burns says. She says production of the show is fast paced, shooting the hour-long episode in one week. Burns usually gets about a half a day to shoot each musical number.

Although Burns says she has been dancing and putting on shows all of her life (her siblings would go to summer camp and she’d put on a welcome-home show), she originally pursued a degree in nursing when she attended MU. She took an anatomy class her sophomore year, and while she says she was not “grossed out” by the cadavers, she realized she was going to fail because she was not very good at science. Burns switched her major to communication with a minor in theater and film and became very involved in extracurricular activities. She choreographed skits for the Pi Phi sorority for Greek Week and Homecoming, joined the Alumni Association Student Board, and was a Summer Welcome leader, where she met people who remain her best friends. Interestingly, Burns credits former Tiger football coach Larry Smith, his wife Cheryl, and their children Alicia and Corby for her decision to attend Mizzou.

The Importance of Football

Smith was the head football coach at USC when Burns and her family moved to Los Angeles from Houston, Texas. The Smiths were their neighbors in Los Angeles and the families became close. By the time Burns was ready for college, Smith had been serving as the head football coach at MU for a few years and recommended she consider coming here.

“It was a chance for me to go somewhere on my own, away from family, but still have my other family with me,” she says. “Cheryl and Larry were like my aunt and uncle. Then I went to a football game and wondered who the dancing girls were. Little did I know how big of a deal they (the Golden Girls) were, so I was happy to join them as well. I didn’t get a chance to choreograph, but I loved performing for thousands of people in the stadium.”

The Emmys will air on Saturday and Sunday night; Burns will accept her award during Saturday night’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards Show on the FXX network. The 68th Annual Emmy Awards airs on ABC Sunday evening.

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