Clark Jackson is an actor coach and working theatre, television, and film artist based in New York City. Here's what he has to say about his approach to teaching and performing.
Clark Jackson: Coaching Statement
I wasn’t born a professional actor. Like most working actors, I started as a student. I was lucky enough to study at Stanford and Yale, where I worked with some amazing teachers and, most importantly, my fellow acting and theatre students. From my teachers, I learned how to be empathetic and professional in the theatre environment, and from my friends I learned how to make creative collaboration happen.
As a teacher, I aim to remember what it’s like to be a student: someone who is learning how to do something, or how to do something better. As an acting coach, I aim to remember what I wanted and needed at various points in the development of my career and to give those tools to my students. In other words, I carry the qualities of empathy, professionalism, creativity, and collaboration into my work as a coach and mentor for actors.
While I strive to coach actors to reach their full artistic potential, I also find it important to mentor my students as they develop their careers. Helping a student work through a difficult Shakespearean monologue is just as gratifying (and important) to me as giving practical advice on making it as an artist in New York City. This kind of advocacy is at the heart of my work as an acting coach.
Through nurturing of the total actor as equal parts artist and businessperson, I make a difference in the lives of my students and position them for successful and satisfying careers in theatre, film, and television.
Clark Jackson: Artist Statement
My life and work as an artist is self-healing, mysterious, and requires courage and a sense of play. Acting, my primary art form, is frustrating, nuanced, beguiling in its ultimate simplicity, and rooted in personal and universal truths. Psychological, instinctive and spiritual – aspects of life we often associate with internal reality – but also very relational, sensorial and social, acting is an alchemy of the internal and external, a synthesis of giving and receiving, and a paradox of being real within a made-up story used to tell the truth. Acting uses every part of me and I love it for that.
Being an artist is of great importance to my personal development as a human being, which means connecting to and expressing those difficult places within myself that speak to the same kinds of places other people struggle with in their own lives. As a professional, how I go about being an artist is also important to how I make a living. That is, being the best actor also includes being a good salesman of what I have to offer, and knowing my own value.
I also write, an art form that shares with acting a common source of imagination and sensitivity to the human condition. Writing is very challenging because I’m not as confident about it as I am my acting and so it provides me with a healthy reminder of my limitations!
I’ve sacrificed to be an artist – security, comfort, consistency, among other things – and I’ve had to deal with a lot of rejection. When I get that script, though, that gets my juices flowing, a serene focus takes over and I feel so ALIVE. That’s the miracle of walking the artistic path that keeps me going.