Award winning teacher!
Award winning performer!
Award winning researcher!
Master of Ceremonies
Dr. Sonny Kelly is a master of storytelling, acting, Shakespeare, theater arts, poetry, spoken word, group facilitation, interpersonal communication, performance studies, training and teaching. He captures the attention and imaginations of audiences of all ages with the power of words. Whether he is speaking English or Spanish, this artist knows how to use humor, energy, drama and intellect to engage all crowds, both large and small.
With over 20 years of experience as a professional actor, over a decade of youth work, and a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies, this artist knows the smart way to tap into the minds of students and workers of all ages.
As a scholar, Sonny's focus is in Communication Studies, Interpersonal Communication, Performance Studies, Critical Race Studies, Cultural Studies, and Critical Pedagogy.
He has taught: Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Performance Studies, Performing Literature, Performing Culture, as well as Success & Study Skills
He has been a Teaching Assistant for: Intro to Interpersonal & Organizational Communication, Intro to Performance, Intro to Media Production, Performing African American History, Organizational Communication, and Business Communication.
Dissertation: Pipelines to Pathways: Reframing and Reclaiming Black Youth Identity through Performance
Past credits include
- Award winning teacher of Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, Public Speaking, and Performance at the community college and university levels.
- Served as a decorated officer in the U.S. Air Force.
- Served as an international aid volunteer, trainer, translator and community liaison in Ecuador and Mexico.
- M.C./Comedian for Cumberland County Human Relations Commission, Fry Foundation, several churches, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Junior League of Fayetteville, Dublin Peanut Festival Scholarship Pageant
- Keynote speaker for North Carolina Juvenile Services Association, Action Pathways, Aspire Program, United Way of Cumberland County and Fayetteville Urban Ministry fundraisers.
- Storytelling with Black Storytellers' Alliance (MN), National Association of Black Storytellers and numerous schools and organizations across the nation
Film & T.V.
Friday Night Lights Featured Guest Direct TV
Short Film Cinema Co-Host Jabez Productions
Sandwich Supporting Actor P.U.S.H. Productions
Chasing the Light Narrator (bilingual) Bauhaus Media Group, Inc.
Path of Life Supporting Actor Promobile Productions
Stairway to Heaven Supporting Actor Lensville Productions
Fayetteville Duck Derby
U.S. Agencies Insurance (Regional)
Time Warner Cable (National)
3M Web Commercial
Northpark Mazda (Voice)
Fayetteville Urban Ministry Intro Time Warner Cable
Battlemind Training Video Kudzo Productions & U.S. Army
FAFSA Instructional Video (’07, ’08, ‘09) T.G., Buckalew Media, Inc.
Freedom Calls Motivational Productions
Texas Dept of Health Training Video Clear Pictures
ACH Fryer Management Training Hanahawk Communications, Inc.
The Talk Writer/Actor Original 1-man show
Color of Courage Actor Original 2-man show
Black, Blue & Invisible Actor 2 Mike Wiley Productions, NC
Hope’s Light Writer/Director SonnyRey Productions, NC
The Piano Lesson Avery Cape Fear Regional Theatre, NC
The Parchman Hour Stokely Carmichael Cape Fear Regional Theatre, NC
Othello Iago Cape Fear Regional Theatre, NC
To Kill A Mockingbird Tom Robinson Cape Fear Regional Theatre, NC
Storytelling Storyteller Play Pen Theatre Troupe, NC
As You Like It Orlando The Gilbert Theater, NC
The Merchant of Venice Bassanio The Gilbert Theater, NC
In the Blood Jabber The Gilbert Theater, NC
Taming of the Shrew Petruchio The Gilbert Theater, NC
Midsummer Night’s Dream Oberon The Gilbert Theater, NC
Arsenic and Old Lace O’hara Angelo State Univ. Drama Dept
Statements After An Arrest… Errol Philander Stanford Univ. Drama Dept
Tales From the Sea Male Lead Stanford Univ. Drama Dept
UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Communication, Sherrill-Pence Award for 2019
Applied/ Engaged Communication
UNC Chapel Hill Initiative for Minority Excellence, Chancellor’s Doctoral 2018 Candidacy Award
UNC Chapel Hill Tanner Teaching Assistants Award for Excellence in 2018
UNC Chapel Hill Department of Communication Martha Nell Hardy Award 2018
for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching
UNC Chapel Hill Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award for 2017
UNC Chapel Hill North Carolina Excellence Award 2015
Cumberland County United Way Volunteer of the Year 2014
"I believe that the oral tradition is the best way we have to pass on the best elements of our heritage onto the next generation. I use storytelling to teach timeless lessons and to connect communities and generations."
"I was designed to perform. It's like breathing to me. I breath life into my characters, and make each one authentically quirky, rich and fluid."
Speaker (MC, Host, Key Note Speaker, and Motivational Speaker)
"I can orchestrate an awards ceremony, motivate youth, train business leaders in constructive communication and team building. If you need it done, my words and energy will engage, entertain and edify bridges!"
"When I'm on stage, my mission is to give the audience all that I have! I come with electric energy, crazy characters, and thought provoking stories. It's all clean and it's all hilarious!"
UNC Chapel Hill
PhD, Communication, 2020
St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX
MA, Communication Studies (Performance Studies), 2008
BA, International Relations (Minor: Economics), 1998