Theatre student takes the silver screen

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Jerry Clark, junior theatre major, is featured in the new dystopian film, "The Maze Runner" and is to be featured in the upcoming film, "Pitch Perfect 2." Clark is a native of Grenada, MS. and chose USM to be in close proximity to New Orleans, where the majority of his auditions take place. - Kara Davidson
Jerry Clark, junior theatre major, is featured in the new dystopian film, “The Maze Runner” and is to be featured in the upcoming film, “Pitch Perfect 2.” Clark is a native of Grenada, MS. and chose USM to be in close proximity to New Orleans, where the majority of his auditions take place. – Kara Davidson

Move over Liam Hemsworth: happy-go-lucky USM student Jerry Clark recently appeared as an actor in the new dystopian feature film, “The Maze Runner.”

 Jerry Clark, a junior theatre major, recently began his film career in a big way by appearing in “The Starving Games” and “The Maze Runner” and is slated to appear as a Treblemaker in the much-anticipated “Pitch Perfect 2.”

 The Grenada, Mississippi native first began acting after a stint as a musician, serving as a vocalist and guitarist for the pop-punk band The Vital Society. The band was relatively successful, putting out an EP found on iTunes and touring with names like Forever the Sickest Kids, Hey Monday and Icy Stars.  

“We broke up and I realized I did not want to stop performing,” Clark said. “I accidentally joined this dance studio and my teacher was a former Broadway performer.”

Clark said he chose Southern Miss so that he could pursue his acting degree and because of its proximity to New Orleans, where he hired an agent and began auditioning for films in Louisiana.  He said that his audition for “The Maze Runner” was an open call. He was cast as a “Glader,” or a featured extra.

He emphasized his experience working on the set of the $30 million film was absolutely surreal, but that he could not get caught up in all the lights and special effects.

 “(It was) amazing, but at the end of the day I’m there to do a job,” he said. “Okay, I am on a (huge) set, but what I’m really doing is here living in this Glade, trying to survive and figure out how the heck to get out of here.” According to USA Today, “The Maze Runner” grossed over $32 million in the opening weekend at the box office and continues to grow in popularity.

Clark also recently filmed in Baton Rouge for his first principal role in a film, cast as a member of the Treblemakers in the movie “Pitch Perfect 2.” He will appear alongside Skylar Astin and Ben Platt to throw down some serious dance moves. He said that his audition was originally supposed to be improvising a short 30-second dance to a Justin Bieber song.

He had other ideas and proposed that he bring the USM dance crew, High Def, down to the audition for a short show. 

“I got a lot of the guys from the crew to go in and we performed a song for a guy named A.J.,” he said. “They liked it, (and) they called me back.”

 Clark said that while “The Maze Runner” was physically exhausting and a little more unplanned, his time with “Pitch Perfect 2” had a few differences such as his own trailer, a strict schedule and lengthy rehearsals. 

“On set, it’s a lot about conserving your energy and making sure that you can be on your peak performance take-to-take,” he said. “So, in your breaks, you need to be resting or doing what you need to do.”

 While he was unable to see a lot of the director of “Pitch Perfect 2,” he spoke positively about his experience with popular actress and producer Elizabeth Banks.

“She’s someone who just gives off a light of energy whenever you’re around her and you can’t help but be charged by her energy,” he said.

 According to IMDb, “Pitch Perfect 2” is still in post-production and is set to premiere May 15, 2015.

While Clark is still involved somewhat in the process of the production of “Pitch Perfect 2,” his eyes are set to the future and his own filmmaking goals, as well as his current involvements in the dance community. He currently works with a dance company in New Orleans named Dance for Life, which is an educational organization that seeks to instruct people and communities through dance.

“What I plan to do is eventually get to where I can get enough equipment to run a production team,” he said. “I want to aim to shoot dance concept video. So, I’d use what I’ve learned through directing and doing cinematography work to kind of fuel that.”

Jerry Clark is currently set to appear in the fall production of Alan Bennett’s “The Wind in the Willows” as both Stoat Ian and Rupert.

Despite Clark’s busy schedule, he still makes time for his friends, school and his many pets.  “I took it as a blessing,” he said.  “I felt very honored to be there, and I never let it get to my head.”