Riveting Riffs Logo One  Chelsea Clark from Cornfields to the Bright Lights of New York

Chelsea Clark Interview Photo One

These days Chelsea Clark has a lot of things going right for her acting career and it seems the sky is the limit. The dark haired, Ohio born actress who fell in love with New York City during her teenage years appears equally adept on screen in films, television and streaming, as she is on the theater stage.

Last month (September 2022), she presented a reading of Joseph Krawczyk’s The Last of the Freudians directed by Eddie Lew in New York City.

Chelsea Clark elaborates, “I have worked with Joseph Krawczyk before. He is a brilliant playwright and I love his work. This one is about a college professor who for some reason can commune with the dead spirit of Sigmund Freud. I think it is brilliant. The way it is done in the play is he can hear Sigmund Freud, but nobody else can. I play one of the professor’s graduate students and (my character) is still having an affair with this professor. It is not the typical play that I am in, but I love Joe’s work, so I am excited to be in this reading.”

As for her preparation for The Last of the Freudians, she says, “I work from the outside in if it is a character I do not understand emotionally. I work a lot with physicality. How does this person walk? How does this person speak? What is the tone of their voice? Is their voice different than mine? That will inform how to play this person if it is not something that does not come naturally to me. This person is a little bit sexy, which is not really who I am. She has this little hip-hop and that is what I work with. That informs the rest of the body. The voice kind of follows.”

Chelsea Clark Interview Photo TwoYou had to know that Chelsea Clark was destined for big things, because right beside her house was the Field of Dreams. Well, maybe that is just a bit of hyperbole, but there was a cornfield beside the family home. Although, dealing that hyperbole yet another blow, she confesses she is not even sure who owned the cornfield, but it was not her family.

“My family moved from North Dakota and I was in my mom’s belly when we moved to Ohio. My dad got a job at Bell Labs, so that is why we moved. They were looking for a rural setting like in North Dakota, which they found (in Ohio). There was a little road and I remembered there was a neighbor’s dog that slept in the middle of the road. He could snooze all day in the middle of the road, because there weren’t any cars around. As I got older rich people started moving in and they built up the town a little bit. By the time I got to high school it was somewhat different, but the corn fields are still there. Industry has built around them. I am not complaining very much, because I got to go to a very nice public high school for free. It was a blue ribbon school (editor’s note: this designation recognizes schools for academic excellence) and the campus is modeled after the University of Virginia campus.

So, Chelsea, do you come from a long line of creative people in your family or were you the first?

“In terms of being a creative trailblazer yes in terms of acting I am. My mother put my brother and I into acting lessons when we were very small, thinking that if we could memorize, that is most of what school is, so that would give us a leg up on school. I never really cared for school that much, but acting was something I really, really liked.

I was also a ballet dancer for many years, as a child and as a teenager, but when I was fourteen or fifteen, I started thinking of acting again. I thought I would like to make this my career. My mom who is a very helpful person saw that there were auditions for a group that was going to New York for a convention. As a child I was more extroverted, but in my teenage years I got a little shy. My mother thought there was no way in heck her daughter would want to go to this audition, but I said yes, I do want to go.

I went to the convention and I was picked up by the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts for two of their summer programs and then I was accepted into their conservatory. I stayed in New York and I went to college, got a degree and I finished the acting training at college. I decided to stay in New York, instead of going to California. I just didn’t feel like California was me. I wouldn’t mind traveling to California for work, but I feel I fit the vibe of New York a little bit better.

My dad plays piano, clarinet and guitar. My brother also plays all of those. My grandfather played the clarinet and the recorder. There is that creative musical background for my family. As far as acting goes I am the first and the only one,” she recalls.

As for whether or not it was an adjustment moving from the neighboring cornfield to the largest city in the United States, New York, she laughs and says, “Oh yeah, it was quite a big adjustment. I did have a leg up, because I did come here in the summer for six weeks in 2003 and then for six weeks in 2004 for the conservatory’s summer program. I got to scope it out a bit. The first summer was extremely hard. I am not going to lie. It was quite jarring in the best of ways (more light laughter), but it was exciting at the same time. I remember one of my teachers in the conservatory told us if you feel like crying the whole first month that you are here, that is completely normal. That normalized the feelings that we were having. I have told that to other actors that I have met outside of school. You are going to be fine. I promise. If you can find the places in New York that are more residential it feels homier in a way. What I really like about New York is there are so many different kinds of people here. People from all over the world live here (you can hear the warmth in her voice) and I think that is really cool. We have the best food. Whatever kind of food you want you can get an authentic plate of that.”

After graduating from the conservatory, a classmate of hers who is still a close friend to this day brought an opportunity Chelsea Clark’s way. A friend of hers who is both a director and actor approached her about a role in a one act play called Like Us. They met for dinner to talk about it.

Chelsea Clark remembers that dinner, and her friend saying, “I am going to give you the play, read it and tell me what you think. I immediately liked the play. It was out there and so bizarre. It was a play by Mark Rosati. That is how we got connected him.

It is a two person play about a man who is being interrogated by another person. They go through all his life and his relationship with his daughter. I play the person who is interrogating this man. It wasn’t written to be a woman, but it was written to be anyone. My director thought let’s make this a shadow of who his daughter is. It is a very cerebral play and a lot of people don’t get it. The reason it is called Like Us, because there is an underlying thread of a chimpanzee and how we are like chimpanzees who are the closest relatives that we have. In the end we are all animals. It was my very first role. It was the very first thing that I did and it changed my life.”

Soon after graduating from the conservatory, Chelsea Clark also produced her first film, “I wrote the screenplay while I was in school and then I joined this group that was looking for screenplays to do. Mine was picked. I was in it and my director friend was in it and one of the people in the group that I joined was in it. That was an interesting experience having my own work. You are very vulnerable when you have your own writing out there. It is one thing to be an actress in someone else’s work, but to act, write and produce your own thing is very intimidating. I am glad it went as well as it did. It was in a few film festivals.

We mentioned Mark Rosati earlier and he and Chelsea Clark would collaborate again, when the COVID pandemic struck.

She explains, “It started in 2020 when we were quarantined and we couldn’t do anything. We were pretty much stuck in the house. I was living with my partner, Nathan Cusson at the time and we still live together. He was bouncing off the walls, because he wanted to do something creative and artistic. We hadn’t really done anything for months. He had this idea that he liked The Shape of Things. Let’s read it and let’s record it.

He had bought all these toys for recording and now he wanted to haul them out and play with them (you can hear her smile) and try them out. He said hey we’re actors, let’s read this play and talk about it. It is something creative, it is something fun. Let’s do something, anything. That is kind of how it started (the how being Black Cat Audible Theatre, a podcast).

I have connections to playwrights, so I reached out to a few of them and I said do you have anything that you would like to have read? We want material and we want to work. One person got back to me, Mark Rosati, who is a terrific playwright. I love being in his works. We loved being in (his play) Entrenched. Then it morphed into what else can we do? What other things can we do, besides reading plays?

(She starts to laugh) let’s do a Dungeons and Dragons session, record it and then put it online. What else can we do? Let’s talk about the field of acting, being a creative person and have a discussion like that. There is a creative hodge podge of whatever we feel like talking about. Whatever we feel like doing, let’s record it and put it under this Black Cat Audible Theatre production that we started on a whim during COVID. It has been fun and we do have a few more ideas of things we would like to do. Right now, it is just finding the time to sit down and to do them.”

Chelsea Clark has a knack for being cast as Greek goddesses. Gee, that must be tough (this writer thinks with a smile).

First, she portrayed Helen of Troy in the American Theatre of Actors production of The Man Who Found Troy.

“That was another Joseph Krawczyk play. It was a little surreal. I have never felt a strong kinship with Helen of Troy like I have with other Greek mythological figures like Artemis. Because I did not feel a strong connection, I had to dig deep to embody this larger-than-life person. In that play everyone played two characters. We played the (figures) from mythology, but then we played these real-life people. I played Sophia Schliemann who was the wife of Henry Schliemann who was the archaeologist who discovered the ruins of Troy,” she says.

Flash forward to 2020 and she played the lead and title character in the play Electra, which was performed in Central Park.

She says, “We did this one in the pandemic in 2020. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to the audition. It was the first in-person audition that I was going to have (during COVID). I was super concerned about COVID and we didn’t have the vaccine yet. They said it was going to be outside and we are all going to stay six feet apart from each other, so we will be fine.

I went to the outside audition in Central Park I was thinking I hadn’t done anything live for so long and I thought this would be nice to ease me back into the whole acting situation. I auditioned for the part of the sister. I got a callback, but during the callback I was told that they wanted me to read for Electra too. As an actress of course you want a bigger role, but as a person who hadn’t acted in a couple of months, I had this moment of terror. Oh my gosh I am not just a side character now. I am the person who has to carry the play. Can I do this? Ultimately, I said yes. I am so glad that I did, because the writing was fantastic by the playwright Daniel Levin. My character had these long monologues. We had rehearsals in the park, just the two of us. It was a cerebral process.

This was the first time I have ever performed outside and it was challenging. A garbage truck would drive by. There was the great bird war. During one of our performances this swarm of birds flew overhead and we had to project ourselves over that. We had people almost surrounding us, so I had to be mindful that if I was facing away from (some) people and they might not be able to hear me if I was not speaking loud enough. There was a lot of meticulous work that went into performing outside. It was great. Everyone was a joy to work with. In the performance space we stayed six feet apart. At one point I was supposed to hug my sister, so we just put our arms around ourselves. That always got a chuckle out of the audience. It was a fun experience. I would one hundred percent do it again in a heartbeat.”

Before we dove a little deeper into Chelsea Clark’s film and television work, we asked her if she had a preference for any of the mediums she has worked within.

“I do enjoy all three mediums. They are all very different. With stage I like the sensibilities of the lights, the backstage and the dressing room. That old fashioned kind of sensibility is something that I connect to. When I was younger, straight out of film school, I didn’t want to do theatre. I didn’t want to do plays. I am such a perfectionist and it was such a fear of mine, what if something goes wrong on stage, what do I do? Now that I’m older and I have been in plays and in plays where things go wrong you adapt and you think on your feet. It is very much a collaborative process, which I enjoy.

Theatre is a longer process, which I like. Sometimes, there is a lot of table work that goes into it, before you even get onto your feet.

I feel like TV in the last ten years has morphed and it is being shot more like film. It is not like the three-camera setup anymore. Now when I am on a TV show it feels more like shooting a film, if that makes sense.

With film and TV there are more opportunities for many types of stories to be told. You can have that on stage too, but (film and TV) is also more of an intimate process, which I really like. You don’t have to make these grand gestures. Everything has to be internalized, because everything that you convey is in your eyes. The camera will pick up your eyes, so very well and if you are not being one hundred percent authentic then the camera is going to know that and it is going to read as false. Chelsea Clark Interview Photo Three

On stage you can fall back on the technique a little bit more. You might not feel that particular performance, but someone in the audience might feel like this is so moving and groundbreaking. I had people come up to me after stage performances and say they believed every single emotion that I was going through, whereas I was not quite feeling it that night. I had fallen back on the technique, but I was still able to convey the story. You have to speak from your diaphragm and make sure that your voice is hitting the back of the theater. I enjoy being a character and the embodiment of a character.

Television appearances have included, The Knick, loosely based on the Knickerbocker Hospital during the early years of the 20th century, in which Chelsea Clark played Vera, who got kicked of a women’s home for being pregnant. We will let her tell the rest of the story, about yes you read it correctly, another historical fictionalized character.  

“She got pregnant from a whaler who is halfway across the sea. Now she is knocked up and kicked out of the home. Life isn’t too great for her. I really liked this part. I gravitate towards historical fiction and I feel it is a genre that I fit into well. Being a part of it as a principal for two episodes was a dream come true. I would love to do more things like that,” she says.  

Chelsea Clark has the classic looks for historical fiction and she tells this writer that her mother would agree one hundred percent.

“I am Sicilian, so I think that maybe where that facial structure comes from,” she adds.

One of the more intriguing characters that Chelsea Clark has portrayed is silent screen star Renée Jeanne Falconetti who played Joan of Arc.

“It is a two-person play and she is caught in this purgatory setting. There is just Renée Jeanne Falconetti and a bartender. They are talking about her life and everything she went through in her experience. That was a lot of fun for me. It was a short play, maybe ten to fifteen minutes and we did it for several play festivals,” she says.  

In 2013 she was also cast in six episodes of Dead On Acting, in the role of Bobbi Princeton.

At this point her dog and cat make a cameo appearance. Hey, they know we mentioned Chelsea’s partner and they want in on the act too.

“This was one of my bigger roles on (camera), aside from student productions, which were all fabulous. Jimmy Martin was the writer and also a character. The show is centered around an acting class that teaches people how to die. You have all types of characters in this acting class. Some of them are a version of “serious actor” and there is my character who wasn’t an actress at all. She was a nurse who was taking the class, because her therapist told her it would be good for her to help her with her fear of death. My character is traumatized most of the time. She has one huge meltdown in I think it was episode three or four. She then has a breakthrough and taking the class ultimately does help with her fear of death. There is this (character) arc of I am going to be okay in the end,” she says.

The future looks bright for Chelsea Clark, she approaches her career and life with an attitude of gratitude, she is professional and she is very talented. She does not seem the least bit intimidated by new challenges, despite her initial apprehension with playing the Greek goddess Electra.

What is next for her?

“I am (cast) for A Thousand Miles and it is in pre-production. It is (a film) set on New Year’s Eve and we go from 1990 to 2000 and 2020. It spans the decades and what happens to these characters throughout the years. We have shot some of it, but we still have some more to do, which I believe we are going to do in 2023. My character is Dana and during the first scenes that we shot she is having an affair with one of the guys who is already married. She doesn’t know that he is married. Skip ahead ten years and she is seeing someone else in 2000. In 2020 she is with someone (different),” she says.

The screenplay for A Thousand Miles was written by Andrew Rothkin and Jonathan Wallace and based upon Jonathan Wallace’s play. Andrew Rothkin directs the film.

Take time to visit the website for Chelsea Clark or you can follow her on Instagram.      Return to Our Front Page

 #ChelseaClarkActress #ChelseaClarkProducer #ChelseaClarkInterview #ChelseaClarkNYC #RivetingRiffs #RivetingRiffsMagazine #AmericanActress #WomenInFilm #WomenInTheater #ActressesToWatch    

This interview by Joe Montague published October 1st, 2022 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of Chelsea Clark unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.