Courtney Clark Keeps Faking It

by Micah Haley on July 7, 2014

IMG_0220-web“It was a fake audition for a fake movie,” says actress Courtney Clark. “I had ten minutes to do this audition and send it in. Then, I had an improv class and a show. It was a crazy day.”

Like most working actors, putting auditions “on tape,” as they anachronistically say, is a way of life. “Nobody was there to help me so I just taped it all by myself. Luckily, it was just three huge monologues so I didn’t have to talk with anybody. So I did it and then sent it off, thinking, ‘I don’t even know what this movie is about. Don’t have a synopsis of it. Don’t have an idea about this character.’ Then, a while later, I got a call that they were waiting on studio approval and…surprise! This was actually for a really big movie.”

It was in fact the biggest movie of Clark’s young career. “Everyone is giving you the go ahead,” her reps said. “The studios dig it.” The film Clark was cast in? We can’t say just yet. It’s a highly anticipated sequel now filming in Louisiana. That doesn’t narrow it down much, which is its own special commentary on the state of the film industry.

A native of Mandeville, Louisiana, Clark moved to Los Angeles in 2011 after starting her career in her home state’s burgeoning film industry. “I studied at LSU and did shows at the equity theater, Swine Palace. Right after I graduated, I toured with an equity show in China for a few months. Then, I came back and got a Louisiana agent and started building up my resume.”

“After narrowly losing a role in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, I did featured extra work on it,” says Clark. “It was like two weeks, but I felt like I got to learn a lot. It was a small group and I got to figure out the lingo while on set with Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Evans.”

“I got my SAG card on a film called Mardi Gras with Josh Gad,” recalls Clark. “And soon after that, I booked My Own Love Song, which was directed by Olivier Dahan. I filmed that with Renee Zellweger, Forest Whittaker and Madeline Zima. That was an exciting experience. It was a really small set. We worked for days on that scene so we became close.”

After landing minor speaking roles in her home state, Clark started thinking about moving to the West Coast. Although the talent pool in Louisiana is relatively small, the leads in most film and television projects are still cast in Los Angeles. “I thought I might get a lead in an indie film as opposed to another supporting character.”

But before Clark would leave, she landed a role opposite Zac Efron in The Lucky One. “Once again, that was a really tight, small set and we spent a lot of time together. Zac’s a good guy,” recalls Clark, who played sister to Efron’s character. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Nicolas Sparks, a well known author with a built in audience of both his books and films adapted from them. “Those movies always do well in the box office because girls love those!”

IMG_0130-webAfter finishing work on her role in The Lucky One, the role started to work for her. “It was a big film. And I was starting to get a lot of pulls from agencies in Los Angeles,” says Clark. “That’s when the move made sense. I just wanted to go but still work here as well because I feel like Louisiana has always been so good to me in my career.”

Shortly following her arrival in California, Clark booked a big K-Mart commercial campaign. “National commercials pay very well. It’s not as creatively fulfilling but it pays the bills,” she says. “I did three commercials for them and that led to more commercial auditions. I booked six nationals in a two-year span. It was awesome.”

But Clark’s move to the City of Angels wasn’t all K-Mart shopping and bubble gum. “I got a manager and he kind of dropped the ball,” she remembers. “The Lucky One was about to be released. I trusted him to make the most out of that. But I ended up having to call the studio myself just to get on the red carpet. I learned that not everyone has your best interests in mind. You’ve just gotta go with your gut and be proactive.”

“Now, I’ve grown and I guess that was a big learning experience for me,” says Clark. “Now, I know what I want. And I do have a new manager, Randy James, and we have a really great relationship. He is very communicative and we both know what’s going on. I feel a lot more empowered than I did when I first went out there.”

After the untimely passing of her Louisiana agent Claudia Speicher, Clark has new representation in Louisiana, too. “I’m with Brenda at Open Range Management,” she says. “I met with her and she is very understanding. She knows what type of role I would want to play. She is very communicative with me. She’s rockin’ and rollin’.”

In addition to the big budget sequel she just landed, Clark also recently booked another Louisiana project called Mind Puppets. “It’s like a comedic thriller about a group of people that get hypnotized, and then the guy hypnotizing them goes into a coma. One guy thinks he is this religious savior and he starts a cult. I got to work on this cult set in the boonies, True Detective style. I also got to work with Kevin Pollak.”

To stay sharp in between projects, Clark is an advocate of improv. “Acting is like a muscle you have to exercise,” she says. “I got into the improv scene with UCB: the Upright Citizens Brigade. One of the founding members is Amy Poehler. That’s the kind of humor it is. You have no idea what your thirty minute show is gonna be about or who you’ll be up there with. They don’t even tell you who is performing at a show. Or that Jane Fonda is literally going to be sitting in the audience. It’s a very tight community, very supportive. And you know who was there one day? Kristen Bell, who just did Frozen. She recently did a surprise show there, which was great.”

“Improv is exciting because you don’t know if people are going to be like, ‘Get off, you suck!’ Which is really scary,” says Clark. “But now, it’s empowering. I feel like it’s given me more confidence in auditions. And recently, I’ve started my own improv group and we perform around L.A. I just booked a monthly improv show at this club in Hollywood. I’ll be doing the first Saturday of every month. That’ll be a constant for me and my improv group, Carol’s Pool House.”

Courtney Clark continues to split time between Louisiana and Los Angeles, taking the best opportunities available to her in both markets. You can follow her on Twitter @CourtJClark and on her website at www.courtneyjclark.com.

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photos by Jason Kruppa
style by Hailee McCumsey
makeup by Lauren Prats
hair by Katie Bellerino