As cool as that would be, no, Tony Hale did not spontaneously make up an imaginary, Hogwarts-esque acting school during his Emmys acceptance speech. The Young Actors Theatre is real, it’s in Florida, it’s huge — the fourth-largest youth theater in the country — and it has helped launch actors such as Hale, Cheryl Hines of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and others.
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Not that Hale wasn’t already talented right out of the gate.
"Even as a young student, Tony had the comic timing down," YAT director Tina Williams told a reporter in 2007. "He got onstage and just turned it on...He was frisky, but he was a good kid."
"Tina is a very dear friend and I was really excited to share the news with her," Hale told the Tallahassee Democrat earlier this month. "Her commitment, as well as others like Allison Grimes, the musical director, to Young Actors Theatre, made a massive difference in my life and I will forever be thankful for that."
Hale still consults for YAT's Film and Television Division.
"I don't really see it as loyalty," Hale told the Democrat. "Without sounding too cheesy, YAT is family and the YAT family will always be a part of my life."