Home Entertainment Madison Native Denny Love welcomed home with cheers, applause for TV role

Madison Native Denny Love welcomed home with cheers, applause for TV role

Denny Love and his father, Anthony Irby. Photo by Robert Chappell.

Denny Love doesn’t have any lines in his first scene on the popular Paramount series Mayor of Kingstown.

That didn’t stop the dozens of friends, family and supporters from bursting into applause when he appeared on the screen at the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center in Fitchburg.

Love, a south side Madison native and West High alum, covered his face in his hands, smiling a slightly embarrassed smile.

“As an artist, it’s like, ‘Can y’all just be quiet so we can enjoy the story?’” Love said after a special screening of the first episode of the third season. “I understand. You get a room full of Black people watching something … we are very audible about the way we feel.”

Love, 31, landed a recurring role as a rookie prison guard entangled in organized crime on the show starring Jeremy Renner. It’s his most prominent role since he was part of the main cast of the Hulu series Looking for Alaska in 2019.

He visited Madison from his home in California on Friday to celebrate with family, friends and a few old teachers, and watch the first episode together. 

(He did have lines in later scenes.)

“It’s such a joyful experience just seeing people I haven’t seen in a decade,” Love said. “So many people that are important to my journey, Pivotal. Without this city, I don’t know how I would have gotten here … It’s a beautiful thing, to bring the city together for something positive.”

Denny Love is admittedly a performance name – his oldest friends know him as Denzel Irby, the 2012 Boys and Girls Club of Dane County Youth of the Year.

“It’s a little bit embarrassing because in a lot of ways, nobody (in Madison) sees me outside of Denny who grew up on the south side, who goes to the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “But in another breath it is really powerful because people have gotten to see my whole journey.”

Also visiting from Minnesota, where she now lives, was Love’s mother Shyy.

“It’s an overwhelming experience. It makes me want to cry tears of joy,” she said. “But I have to be strong for my son because this is his moment.”

She said she’s not surprised that he chose acting as a career path – nor that he’s found some success.

“He was 3 and he was acting. He was a comedian. He was able to make people laugh. I’m talking about older people. People would come to me (and ask), “‘What is wrong with your son? He is just so funny,’” she said. “I knew that this career path that he was taking, was going to take him where he’s at.”

Love told Madison365 last month that the ability to make people laugh was useful when the pandemic shut down most film and television production just a year after his big break on Looking for Alaska. He was able to make ends meet by touring as a standup comedian.

His mom sees big things in his future.

“I don’t think there’s any limit to Denny’s potential. He puts everything into anything,” she said. “You challenge him to do anything, he’s going to do it. I just think the sky’s the limit for my son, whatever he wants to do, and he put his mind to, he’s gonna do.”

She also appreciated the turnout and show of support at the event.

“I used to tell my kids all the time, it takes a village. Everybody’s here and … they are a part of his success. And that’s why he’s so humble,” she said.

New episodes of Mayor of Kingstown are available every Sunday on the Paramount Plus streaming service. Love’s upcoming projects include films Impulse with Lou Ferrigno, Jr and Nick Cassavetes, and The Duel with Dylan Sprouse.