'American Dad' animator sneaks in a tribute to one of his Baltimore teachers

An "American Dad" animator snuck in a tribute to one of his BSA teachers in tonight's episode.

Watch closely during an art gallery scene in tonight’s episode of “American Dad,” and you might just spy a familiar face, especially if you’ve spent any time at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the past few decades.

There, among the spectators, sharp-eyed BSA alums will see none other than Stephen Kent, the recently retired head of the school’s visual arts department. He’s there thanks to one of his former students, Brian Mainolfi, who has spent nine years as a storyboard artist for the animated TV show.

“Mr. Kent is a foundational person in my life — the first artist to treat me not as 'some kid who draws,' but as an artist with legitimate ideas and goals,” Mainolfi said in a statement released by the school. “I draw for a living, and it is because of the potential Mr. Kent saw and encouraged in me. This was the least I could do to honor all that he did for me.”

Kent, who retired in June after 36 years at the school and who still lives in Mount Vernon, says he was flattered — both that he had such a lasting impact on Mainolfi, and that his likeness made it on to “American Dad.”

“What a wonderful way to be remembered,” he said. As for his former student’s rendition, Kent noted that his cartoon self accurately reflects what he looked like more than 25 years ago, when he had Mainolfi as a student. Today, unlike his TV likeness, he sports a mustache and a beard.

“He did more than justice to me,” Kent said with a laugh. “He smoothed out a lot of wrinkles, literally.”

“American Dad” airs at 8:30 p.m. Mondays on TBS.

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