We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Clendaniel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, what do you attribute your success to?
This is such a beautiful question because everyone’s idea of success is different. So I think an important factor behind my success is being able to define – and redefine – what “success” means to me. Constantly making goals, aiming for new accomplishments, and putting in the work is what creates success. When I was younger my idea of being a successful actor was that I could pay my bills, buy any takeout food I wanted, and take care of my dog. Based on that definition, I am a successful actor. Last year I earned more money working in the film industry than I did working my side jobs; that created a new level of success. This year my name will be credited on major tv shows and movies that I worked on even though no one will see my face on screen. Those credits are a new level of success. We have the power to label what our successes are. Just because the people in my hometown can’t watch me as the next break-out star on a Netflix original, doesn’t mean that I am not successful at this moment. I am working. I am growing. That is success.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Hey! My name is Rebecca Clendaniel, and I am an actor. I have worked in the theatre, traveled for various acting jobs, and am currently working in the film industry, here in Atlanta, both in front of and behind the camera. If I have time between acting projects, then I will fill that time by working various production assistant jobs. If I can’t be in front of the camera, then I want to be working on a production because there are always opportunities to learn and grow. What sets me apart in this industry is my ability to connect with others. Most people in a conversation listen to reply, however I listen to understand. I love working as an actor because I get to meet so many wonderful people. Forming those relationships as well as creating a fun, safe set environment is vital because we work long hours. If someone is an outsider to the film industry, they probably are unaware of our average work day. On average I am working on set for 14 hours per day, 60-70 hour weeks. And as an actor, I am only really acting the moments between “action” and “cut”. Ten percent of the time is acting; the rest is prepping for wardrobes, building the elements of psychology, memorizing and rehearsing the lines, getting ready for the piece itself, and once the piece is over your job is to find your next job and go through that whole audition process. Mahershala Ali explains it perfectly; during an Actors Roundtable he said, “[Acting] is such a minuscule part of the experience that you have to love it that much.” Because of the working time commitment in this industry, there are many sacrifices that have to be made. I am where I am today professionally because I put in the work. I went to multiple universities to become more educated on the topic, and I continue to educate myself. I read books on acting and the industry. I watch actors interviews, and I am constantly analyzing the character work and writing in tv shows and movies. I rehearse scenes with friends. I work with an improvisation troupe. I practice my skills. I do all of this because I do not take being a storyteller lightly. I’ve learned that everyone has an untold story, and the fact that I am able to assist in telling those stories through the mirror of film is beautiful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We are going to the Georgia Aquarium! It may be selfish because I am in love with the beluga whales, but I love sharing the aquarium with friends. If Alliance Theatre has any productions, then we will always go to support them. Throughout the week we will definitely need to eat at The Flying Biscuit, Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q, Folk Art, as well as go to trivia night at My Parent’s Basement (because who doesn’t love a good restaurant/arcade/comic book store). I have family in Woodstock, GA, so we will have a family night filled with wings and endless coffee. Most likely we will have a two day trip to Savannah, and any down time we have will be filled with random hikes or picnics in Piedmont park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My lovely grandparents deserve some recognition. They are one of the main reasons I am pursuing my career. Growing up, they used to take me to the theatre, museums, different book readings and events at our public library. They are teachers – so is my mom – and I am constantly in awe of them. Every day they make an effort to learn about culture and the changes that are happening in the world. They taught me the importance of human connections and exploring the arts.
Haleigh Clare and Gosnel McDermott