On Friday, Oct. 18, Denzel Irby, known in show business Denny Love, hosted a watch party to celebrate the premiere of “Looking for Alaska,” a limited eight-episode series based on the wildly popular John Green novel.
Irby, who plays “the Colonel” in the teen drama, rented out a theater at Silver Cinemas at Market Square on Madison’s west side. He welcomed about 150 guests, most of whom were family or friends, before settling down to watch the first episode.
“I just wanted to thank everyone for coming out,” he said to the room. “This is a huge moment for me and this is something that I’m proud of and I can’t wait for you all to see it.”
After the show, Irby and the guests stayed for pictures. Though Irby was only in Madison for the weekend, he expressed his gratitude for the people who came out in support and helped get him to where he is now.
“For this to be happening is incredible, man,” he said. “To me, it’s inspiring to know that it doesn’t really matter where you come from. If you got the support of the people around you and you really chase your dreams, it’s incredible. I thought this was beautiful. It felt like a family reunion. There’s so much love in this building right now.”
Irby was the Dane County Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year in 2012, studied theater at DePaul in Chicago and then headed to Los Angeles in 2017 to chase his dreams. The Colonel is his first major role.
“We are so proud of him,” said Semajer Lackey, Irby’s cousin and fan. “We loved [the show]. It was intriguing and we can’t wait to see the rest of it. It was so funny.”
“I thought it was a good premiere,” said Jack Plaster, who went to West High with Irby. “I’ve never seen Hulu on the big screen like that. It was really great seeing my friend and former director Denzel there. It was just amazing.”
The series “Looking for Alaska” is now available on Hulu. A basic Hulu subscription is $5.99 per month.
“I want this to be an example of what you could do if people support you,” Irby said. “I want people to know that it ain’t where you from, it’s where you tryna go.”