Deputy Curtis shares about his experiences with music, theater and chasing dreams


Photo by Amanda Capaldi

Deputy Curtis poses while on duty in the lunchroom.

Born and bred in New York City, Deputy Steven Curtis has always been surrounded with a plethora of activities waiting to be explored. The city’s name alone brings up images of a glittering skyline, bustling with life and diversity. Amidst the hustle and the mixture of noises, ranging from horns honking to muddled conversations lies the music, and for Deputy Curtis, this did not go unacknowledged. His choice of study in college might not have been performing arts, but theater and music have never strayed too far from his mind.

“I went to school for criminal justice,” Deputy Curtis said. “But while I was doing criminal justice, I also enjoyed theatre; I enjoyed stage and I loved film. I am from New York so I had a lot of friends who grew up in the theatre.”

On top of the atmosphere of the place he grew up in, Deputy Curtis was also molded by his experiences with his family.

“I never had a father, well, I had a father but I never knew him,” Deputy Curtis said. “He kind of disappeared at a young age when mom and dad got divorced. My mom was always working-doing her best, and mom was like ‘we’re not going to ask for any assistance, we’re going to go to work, you’re going to cut the lawn, you’re going to shovel the snow. We’re all going to do what we have to do to pitch in as a unit: my older sister, my mom and myself.’ We did, as a unit, we raised each other, and in a way it helped because I had no help. I had to go out and find my own leverage. I had to go out and try out new adventures unfeathered–I had nobody telling me what to do.”

One of the “adventures unfeathered” that Deputy Curtis immersed himself in included singing and dancing, but there were aspects of his childhood that did not always comply with his passion for performing arts.

“I got a full ride to a performing arts school coming out of grade school because I used to do these plays and I was singing,” Deputy Curtis said. “I was like this little Donnie Osborne, like a little Michael Jackson… I was ready to go, and they said, ‘He’s going,’ and my mom said, ‘No he’s not. He’s going to a technical high school and he’s going to learn math and architecture…’ I was an English literature, artistic, right-brained thinking person, and here she goes throwing me into technical high school with kids who just wanted to do math. I was like,’I don’t belong here.’ So I had to rebel.”

Deputy Curtis further elaborated on other ways in which he followed the path he wanted.

“You have to have artistic outlets and I firmly believe that if you don’t, you’re going to be pent up in some way,” Deputy Curtis said. “Some people don’t have artistic vents, but their passions are also outlets: they enjoying riding bikes, or they go to yoga… You have to find these different things as you get older, and that’s wisdom, that’s experience you know?”

Deputy Curtis left his hometown to move to Colorado, where he pursued criminal justice and other areas of interest that he engaged in in the course of his rebellion.

“I [also] found Judo as an outlet, and I guess I was so angry, I made the olympic trials,” Deputy Curtis said. “I was that passionate about everything I did. I was so passionate that I went, ‘I’m going to go to the Olympics, mom. I’m going to do it.’ There you go, you win the state games, you win the American Canadian Championships. All of a sudden, I’m in Colorado at the Olympic training center. “

However, for Deputy Curtis, Colorado would not be permanent. The performing arts, which had appealed to him as a child attracted him once again.

“I moved back to New York after I was living in Colorado for a couples of years,” Deputy Curtis said. “I studied theatre, and I enjoyed music–I had been singing my entire life and I play instruments as far as guitars and percussion. I went to New York with the aspirations of doing stage and theatre.”

Once in New York, Deputy Curtis was able to partake in some significant projects.

“Since I sang, I also went to a lot of auditions,” Deputy Curtis said. “I ended up doing a broadway workshop for ‘Footloose.’ I helped develop that. I also sang for productions like ‘Movin’ Out’ by Billy Joel. I didn’t make it on Broadway, but I made it pretty far down the cut. I did a lot of musical theatre workshops in New York City and I did some television. I helped sing the song for the Today Show.”

Although Deputy Curtis continues to maintain his love for acting and singing, at the end of the day, there were decisions he felt obligated to make.

“If you’re not currently working, you can make a lot of money doing the arts but once that gig is over you got to stand back in line you know, and you have to audition for the next role,” Deputy Curtis said. “Sometimes that can be a feed your family type of thing when you’re waiting for a couple of months, you’re auditioning and then you’re going hungry. That’s when reality kind of hits. For me it was either go to L.A and do film or stay in New York and be your bohemic actor and singer type thing, and I wanted to have a family so I made the choice to take my criminal justice degree and become a cop.”

Prior to moving to Michigan, Deputy Curtis met his wife in New York. He spoke about their similarities when it came to their chosen creative outlets.

“My wife was a Rockette [at Radio City Music Hall in New York City], so it kind of runs in the family,” Deputy Curtis said. “She was like the proverbial dancer and I was like the actor/singer. In our earlier ages that is what we did, we enjoyed the arts and we pursued them pretty heavy. “

Now, Deputy Curtis has settled down. Living in Michigan entails a different change of pace, and so far, according to Deputy Curtis, the differences have been positive.

“Through the years I would come back and forth through Michigan with my wife because her family was here, hence we came back here to replant, and settle down and raise my family,” Deputy Curtis said. “Now I have two children: two boys, Miles [who’s 11] and Landon [who’s nine]. It is great, I love it… I like being able to park my car in a garage, not down the street five blocks away. It’s nice to go to a store that sells milk and jeans at the same store like Meijer… freaks me out, you know I like that type of stuff. Michigan is cool, I enjoy it.”

Still, Deputy Curtis refuses to let go of his artistic passions entirely.

“I absolutely still sing. I write music, I also record my own stuff,” Deputy Curtis said. “I’m thinking maybe sooner or later I’ll cut something like an album. I’ve jammed out with a bunch of great musicians–I do when I have the time and we gig, and that’s our thing to do and you’ll find musicians that are talented and you like to sing, it just kind of automatically happens by itself.”

Despite the importance Deputy Curtis places on staying connected to his craft, there are still certain struggles he faces.

“The only thing you have to find is the time to commit,” Deputy Curtis said. “The reason I can’t be an actor or a musician right now is because I have to go to work. I can’t take consecutive days off to go to rehearsal, because with music and acting you have to rehearse to put the final production out there. It takes a lot of time to get a polished product out, and I don’t have that kind of time.”

Deputy Curtis remains optimistic for the future.

“Hopefully, one day I’ll find time to get back into my craft; my acting and my singing,” Deputy Curtis said. “Maybe my wife can get back into dancing when the kids grow up and we can be the old timers out there, doing what we love most.”

Throughout his lifetime, certain lessons have stuck with Deputy Curtis.

“You have to follow your dreams; you have to be impulsive,” Deputy Curtis said. “You can do anything you want. Anything is possible. If you put your mind’s focus to it and make that a singular focus, you’re going to hit your mark. You’re going to hit it or you’re going to hit something that’s predetermined to be your future; it’s going to happen. Always remember that if you follow your passions, something’s coming your way.”