Scott Palmason ’04

This versatile performer works in improv, acting and voice—and recently sang on the Disney Channel cartoon The Lion Guard.

As an aspiring actor, Scott Palmason ’04 went to L.A. after graduation because he felt the city would be the challenge he needed. He acknowledges, however, “Moving to L.A. and trying to make it in show business is not for the faint of heart.”

At Redlands, Palmason—whose mother was a music teacher, father a singer and actor, and grandfather an opera singer (and physician)—immersed himself in acting and singing for the love of it. “I relished performing theatre at Redlands,” he says. “The shows were beautifully directed, beautifully costumed.” He also joined the University’s Chapel Singers, a 25-voice chamber ensemble. The group recorded a live album, which Palmason still treasures today, and toured England and Scotland.

While his confidence as a performer rose steadily throughout his college years, Palmason was unsure whether he should attempt a career in performing arts. However, a key moment at Redlands cemented his aspirations: “[Professor] Chris Beach pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you should go for it.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I think you have what it takes, and you should give it a shot in L.A.’”

“I figured I would give it one or two years,” Palmason says.

Shortly after arriving in L.A., he began appearing regularly at Improv Olympic West (aka iO West). The improv community gave Palmason support and a platform to showcase his talents—and those performances lead to acting and singing jobs. He also applied his performance skills in related trades: directing marketing for Impro Theatre; working as brand ambassador and host at trade shows; and, conducting improv and teambuilding workshops for organizations such as Amazon.

His entertainment career has accelerated with starring roles in musicals including the Ovation Award-nominated musical of Shakespeare’s King Lear spoof, DeLEARious. He has also played a doctor on Scrubs, made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and co-written the anthem for the first-ever YouTube (Super Bowl) Halftime Show.

And he recently sang on a Disney Channel cartoon, The Lion Guard, with his friend, singer and songwriter Beau Black.

Palmason returns to campus to mentor the U of R student improv group, University Humor Outreach Program (UHOP. “When I talk to students, it is less about how to ‘make it’ and more about how to lead a good life,” he says. “What I’ve learned in improv is, ‘Life happens. Embrace it.’”

—Mika Elizabeth Ono