Striking a balance between academics and extracurricular activities can be a daunting task for an 11-year-old. You would think that voicing the lead role in a new Nickelodeon animated series would further complicate matters. But Ethan Kempner takes it all in stride.
“I thought it would be cool to see and hear myself on TV,” the precocious Marlboro resident says of his early acting roles. By the time he was 8, Kempner had appeared in a Chuck E Cheese commercial. One commercial appearance lead to another, and a sizeable resume began to develop.
When his parents alerted him that Nickelodeon was holding auditions for a new education-based animated series, Kempner jumped at the opportunity. The network conceived of the new show, Team Umizoomi, as a vehicle to help preschool children improve their understanding of conceptual math.
Kempner landed the part of Geo, who, along with his sibling, Milli, and their robot friend, Bot, engage Umifriends (home viewers) with math problems to solve as their adventures unfold.
Geo is a “shape builder” on Team Umizoomi, helping to create various geometric arrangements. Kempner was drawn to the character—and the show—by his interest in math. But he also likes his character’s energy and the joy he can bring to the role. “I can scream in the [sound] booth and not get in any trouble,” he says.
When pressed to pick a favorite subject in school, he narrows it down to math and social studies. His mother, Cheryl, says that he is an excellent student, which allows him to pursue his acting roles.
“I’m amazed at his dedication,” Cheryl says. “He’s an honor roll student, but very modest. I’m very proud of him.”
Kempner plays the drums and the alto saxophone, is active in baseball and basketball, and holds a black belt in karate. He hopes to continue acting as long as he can, but also is interested in becoming a math or social studies teacher.
Team Umizoomi can be seen on Nickelodeon. It airs Monday—Friday
at 11:30am ET/PT on Nickelodeon. For more information about the show, visit nickjr.com.