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Kevin Li’s career is taking off like magic.

After successfully appearing on the magic competition TV show “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” the 2019 graduate decided to pursue magic full time and is now appearing at the Magic Castle and doing corporate shows, as well as on social media where his Instagram account has more than 240,000 followers.

Before his senior year, Li had planned a career in marketing in the entertainment industry. But that changed after “fooling” the two master magicians. (He first appeared on the show in 2017.)

“I can make a difference in this industry, how much time I spend in it, how much love I have for it. Why wouldn’t I want to go in this direction,” says Li, who studied international business and marketing (See his card trick after getting his diploma at the 2019 Commencement). “I’m my own boss every single day. I get to set my own schedule. It’s about taking risks and being confident in that.”

Li considers himself a modern magician – he embraces social media, storytelling and technology.

“When you perform for people in person, their attention and focus is a lot longer. Online, if you don’t hook them in the first three seconds, they are going to click away,” he said. “But this is my style and what sets me apart from the older generation of magicians.”

As a modern magician, he uses cell phones, unlocking pass codes or something that is private to them. And he wants to make his magic meaningful.

“It’s cool that I can make a coin vanish, but why should people care about that. There should be a story, and I love storytelling,” Li said.

“No matter if people forget my name or the exact trick I did, they are always going to remember the feeling in the moment, and that is something they are going to carry and remember for the rest of their lives.”

Li thinks he may try another TV reality show and dreams of opening his own theater in Los Angeles.

The Rowland Heights native figures he has a year to convince his conservative parents that being a magician is a real job. And if he continues on his current track, it might be one of his best tricks yet.

By Tom Zasadzinski
Published February 7, 2020