Dennis Martin Clarke Interview
Good afternoon, Dennis. Please tell our readers, “How did you first get started in acting?”
That’s a very interesting question. Sometimes I suspect there's an element of pre-destination in our lives that we aren’t necessarily aware of, but it’s there. I have a very clear memory of being in a fifth grade reading class in St. Louis, and the story that day was set in Los Angeles. The author made the city of Los Angeles the “star” of the story, ending his writing by referring to Los Angeles as “The City of the Angels.” From that day on I was fascinated by the city and years later I got in my car and drove to Los Angeles to live and to become an actor.
I don’t remember the details of the story, but reading it made me more and more taken with Los Angeles and when the closing sentence described Los Angeles as “The City of the Angels, I was hooked. I was ten years old and the idea of being an actor had never crossed my mind, but I now felt that Los Angeles and I were somehow soulmates. Many years later I knew in my heart that I was doing the best thing when I decided to move there to act!
When did you become interested in the acting side of things. Did anyone encourage or inspire you?
Many years after fifth grade, and still in St. Louis, with a college degree in Philosophy and another college degree in Physical Therapy, I somewhere saw an advertisement for a class called “Acting for Beginners.” This class was to be taught by a woman named Anita Grunnmann at Forest Park Community College in St. Louis. Signing up for that class was a turning point in my life. I quickly discovered how much I enjoyed acting.
While I was in the class, Anita heard that there was a sudden opening for an actor to play the role of Sidney in the play ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR by Alan Ayckbourn. Anita told me about the new opening in the cast. An audition was arranged and I was cast as Sidney. There are 94 pages in the play and Sidney has a speaking part in 67 of them. For the first time in my life, I discovered that I could play a lead role. That was a revelation to me and I then knew for sure that I wanted to be an actor.
Anita Grunnmann, who still lives in St. Louis, was a wonderful acting teacher and a great inspiration to me. To this day, I think of her as the first person who helped me believe in myself as an actor. She was and is a great acting coach and director. She is the reason that I became an actor. She changed my life.
After Anita’s class, did you continue to take other classes and get in more plays?
For the next eight years, I continued to take classes and to perform in play after play after play. Some of my favorite roles have been Mel in PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE, Michael Curtis in THE SECOND TIME AROUND, and Trent in THE END OF THE WORLD. I also learned a lot about plays and acting from Jane Brody, a Casting Director and acting teacher from Chicago. Jane would come to St. Louis once or twice a year and teach weekend seminars. She was a wonderful teacher - smart, insightful, inspiring.
So, Dennis, what made you eventually make the move to Los Angeles?
Truthfully, I considered moving to New York or L.A. because I wanted to study acting more continuously and more intensively and to make myself available for acting opportunities in one of those two cities. I eventually chose Los Angeles - mainly, I suspect, because of the weather. By the time I made the move to Los Angeles, I already had my union cards with SAG and AFTRA.
What has it been like being an actor and working on the stage and screen?
There’s really nothing like it. There are so many fantastic opportunities. Maybe that was my point in the beginning of this interview when I mentioned that maybe our lives are somehow predestined but we don’t know it.
As an actor I have been fortunate to have had many acting opportunities in theatre, television and film. I also always continue to work on my craft because acting classes can deepen your human sensitivity to others and it helps you become a better and better actor. I find that other actors are some of the most sensitive, understanding, and helpful people you will ever meet.
One of my best experiences here in Los Angeles has been working with Kari Nissena who coaches actors in the business side of acting. She help actors to actively manage and create their careers. She also guides actors who work with her on the mindset side of their careers so that they feel that their acting career is more exciting, more fun, and more personally rewarding.
Wow, that really sounds great. What is coming up next for you, Dennis?
Interesting that you ask that, because I’m working with a film editor on some new promotional material, have some press interviews coming up, will be filming a couple projects over the next few months, and - because I appeared on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL in the past - I’m putting my sights on getting back into soaps again.
Wow. Sounds like you are very busy Dennis, Thank you for a very enjoyable interview.
Thanks for the great conversation.
To find out more about Dennis: http://www.imdb.me/dennismartinclarke
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