Herrrrrrre’s Caleb! How Duarte became ‘The Host’
This story is reprinted from the February issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
Story by Caleb Duarte
Photos by Gillian Rea
From the time I was a young boy, the stage has been a special place for me. Entertaining was in my blood before I even knew what that meant.
The first stage experience I remember was the Christmas musical at my church. I was in the first grade and, of course, felt compelled to audition for a solo. There was just one problem. I couldn’t pronounce my Rs.
So instead of “And remember when God sent us to Joseph in a dream. This child that’s born of Mary has come to set men free,” it went more like “And wemembew when God sent us to Joseph in a dweam. This child that’s bown of Mawy has come to set men fwee.” Hopefully my pronunciation has improved a tad over the last 14 years.
Many performances followed, and I took my passion for the stage into high school. I was blessed with roles ranging from George in “Our Town” to Jack in “Into the Woods” to my favorite, Javert in “Les Misérables.”
My supportive family kept me grounded, and I was blessed to attend Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif., where God put amazing Christian teachers and mentors into my life. With each performance, my love for the stage grew – and so did my realization that I was not doing this on my own. God had blessed me with a talent and a gift to minister to others through the art of entertainment.
And then I came to Grand Canyon University. It may surprise some that I originally came to GCU for the Sports Business program. I’d played sports from the time I was 4. In fact, my first audition at Valley had to be rescheduled because of a basketball tournament. Sports was my life and would be my career – or so I thought.
I realized there was a new path for me in August 2017. I was a sophomore and two months into my first year with the Canyon Activities Board. I was on the Special Events team, the group that plans campus events – including Lip Sync, which was two months away and draws a huge crowd to GCU Arena.
The team wanted to try something new: have someone be an official “host” for the show. I immediately thought of my hero, Jimmy Fallon, who had hosted the Golden Globes earlier that year. I had spent a lot of time watching him host “The Tonight Show,” admiring how he’d honed his craft and owned the stage.
As I sat in those planning meetings, I started dreaming of what it would be like to be THE HOST! It was about that time that Justin Rodriguez (who will always be one of my most favorite people) looked at me with a smile and said, “How about somebody who wants to be the next Jimmy Fallon?”
I tried to hide my excitement. I wanted to burst out with a loud “YES! I will host!” But I was a sophomore and didn’t want to overstep. Yet the idea had been planted, and it was now in the hands of the CAB Special Events Director, Hunter Culbert.
I’ll never forget that morning in early September when Hunter let me know my dream was coming true. We’d just wrapped up our monthly CAB meeting and he asked to “have a chat.” My first thought was “Oh boy! What did I do? Am I being kicked off CAB?”
Thankfully, it was quite the opposite. Hunter looked me in the eye and said, “I want you to be the host.” In those 30 seconds my life at GCU was changed. Since then, I’ve been blessed with several hosting opportunities, including Lip Sync twice and a Mr. GCU.
In October – with the help and support of many people, including producer extraordinaire Ethan Collins – we launched “The Canyon Night Show.” Every month I get to channel my “inner Jimmy Fallon” and host in front of a live audience. And we added a band to the show in January!
As I said, the ability to do what I do is not from me. My mom has shared two verses with me for as long as I can remember, and they sum up my journey so far quite well.
The first is Proverbs 16:18:
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Sometimes I struggle to remember that God really is in charge and I want to take way too much credit. I’m thankful for those here at GCU who have joined my dad, mom and sister in keeping me grounded.
The second verse is Proverbs 4:23:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
God has surrounded me here at GCU with godly leaders, great friends and amazingly supportive roommates. I’m grateful that you help steer me in the right direction – you help me guard my heart.
What will my future hold? Only God knows. But I will be forever grateful for every moment I’m blessed to be “The Host” here at GCU. Lopes Up.
ABOUT CALEB DUARTE
Caleb Duarte is a junior working toward his bachelor’s degree in Communications. Originally from California, Duarte has found a place to truly call home in GCU. Apart from being onstage, the loves of Caleb’s life are singing Sinatra, winning his Fantasy Football League, and his dog, Duffy.