Star Power

Nebraska's Burke is a former child actress

Jan. 2, 2008

By Lara Boyko

Special to


Lara Boyko

Lara Boyko covers a variety of sports for
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While some players at the college level hope to achieve stardom sometime during their playing career, Nebraska's freshman guard Kaitlyn Burke didn't wait for her college years to accomplish this goal. Instead, she achieved it (and has a page in to prove it) even before her teenage years while growing up in North Vancouver, British Columbia.


"I was seven when I started doing commercials," said Burke of the beginning of her acting career. "My sister started off doing commercials and I used to dance a lot. I wanted to be just like my sister, so I wanted to try it. I started off doing commercials and then my agent wanted me to tryout for movies. I did it and the rest is history."




Burke's history of acting not only includes commercial work on the small screen, but also on the silver screen.


"I did Dad's Week Off with Henry Winkler," said Burke. "It was a fun one to start off with because I remember when I went on set, I was so nervous and he made everything really nice. He was so friendly and I remember him telling me to relax because I would be great. He treated me like his own daughter on set so it was really fun and I liked it. How could you not after that?"


"Then I did Ms. Bear, Bear With Me (sequel to Ms. Bear), Life Size, an episode on Millennium, Resurrection and some small parts here and there."


Burke's acting career may not have included principle roles in these movies and TV shows, but she did get to ride a bear and meet some big-time stars.


"I knew who Tyra Banks (Life Size) was and she was really nice," said Burke. "I remember her inviting me into her trailer and she was still doing the Cover Girl work and she put make-up on me. I thought it was the coolest thing as I was eight or nine at the time. I met Lindsay Lohan, but didn't really interact with her too much. It's weird to think about doing that movie with her then and now she is a mega star."


After catching the acting bug at an early age, there was a different interest at age 12 which lured her away from a future of fame and fortune.


"I had just finished Bear With Me and I was getting into sports also," said Burke. "They conflicted where I would have a tournament and an audition at the same time. My agent would want me to go to the audition and my coach would want me to go to the game. I had to be there for my team, but I didn't want to let either my agent or my coach down and it wasn't fair to anyone if I wasn't there. I had to choose and my parents let me choose whatever I wanted to do."


"At that point I couldn't imagine my life without sports. I know it sounds weird and people question how I could do that and choose sports over acting, but I love the competitive atmosphere and being with my teammates. I just loved sports too much to give it up. I figured I could always go back to acting, but I wanted to see how far I could go with basketball. People think I am crazy, but I love basketball too much."


Burke's love for basketball has grown so much that her past as an actress is not typically brought up.


"One of my assistants saw her play in the summer prior to the senior year, which is fairly unusual to get in that late," said Nebraska coach Connie Yori. "We can always use a good shooter that can handle a ball, but then we find out that she is such a great kid and student. The whole movie thing we didn't know until after the fact. I think that my assistant knew a little bit about it, but she didn't share it with me until after we signed her. Her experiences with being in that environment and having the pressure on her have helped her be a poised person on and off the court."


"She is not a kid to pat herself on the back so she is not going to make a big deal out of it. Frankly I think she is more embarrassed about it more than anything and doesn't like to talk about it. It's a phase of her life that was kind of neat for a time, but it's neat that she's chosen to be a basketball player where she maybe had the potential to have a career as an actress. I think this says a lot about her love for the game."


While she does not get (or want) any star treatment from her teammates, her love for basketball has continued to grow since coming south of the Canadian border. Even though she has developed into a solid player (she currently averages 7.2 ppg and earned Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors during the week of 12/17/07) there are some aspects of her past life that she still dreams about.


"I think I would want to go shopping and get a really nice fancy dress to have that red carpet experience with all of the people that I love and love to be around," said Burke of the star treatment she would like to receive. "Maybe our team should do it. We could all get dressed up and have our hair and make up done. Yes, I'm a really girlie-girl."