“Dan of All Trades”

Interviewed By Anissa Claiborne

Dan Martin is one of those actors that literally seems everywhere, at the same time. If you have watched movies or television over the last 20 years, seen any commercials, even gone to much theater, odds are you have seen Dan Martin at work. He has been in and on everything it seems. Pull up his IMDB page and take a seat, because it is going to take you some time to scroll through his incredibly long resume.

But to save you time, here are some of the TV shows Martin has had key roles in: “School of Rock,” “Ten Days In The Valley,” “The Bold and The Beautiful,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” ‘Criminal Minds,””How To Get Away With Murder,” “Burn Notice,” “S.W.A.T.,” ‘NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service,” “Numb3rs,” “Malcolm In The Middle,” and you get the picture. There’s a lot more. A whole lot more.

His film list is a long one as well. And then there are the stage plays, some of which he starred in and some he directed. By the way, he is also a veteran of many national commercials, having been cast as the lead in a number of spots.

So yeah, you know him. He’s one of those actors that lives the dream of seeming to always be working. Hollywood Blvd’s Anissa Claiborne was able to sit down with Martin and talk about the arc of his career and what others might be able to learn from it.

AC: What does it feel like to have such a long and successful career?

DM: It’s good, in a way, that I’m confident, that I know my next gig will be coming. A lot of times with actors you’ll hear them say “I’m in between jobs.” And a lot of times that means they have no idea when their next job is coming along. Well, I’m between jobs right now, but I’m confident enough to know that something is coming along.

AC: Before you were an actor you were a teacher. Tell us about that.

DM: Well the deal when I got out of college was that you had to get yourself a good job. Acting wasn’t a good job. But the idea of being a teacher, now that was respectful. So I did that. I graduated. I got the degree. I taught in Patterson, NJ, Eastside High School. So I did that for a number of years and all the time I was doing that I was also doing plays in the evening, teaching school in the daytime. I did that for a while until finally I gave up the teaching and did the acting full time. And it’s been the journey of a lifetime.

AC: So you went from acting in theater to working in front of a camera. How did that come about?

DM: Well that decision was always in the back of my mind. I remember when I was a little kid watching the credits roll, all the names going up, and thinking then that my name should be in there. So what happened was that when I was in New York and was doing more and more plays, opportunities just started presenting themselves to audition, so I would go and lo and behold, I got the parts. So the opportunities just kept coming up the more I stayed in the business.

AC: I want to talk to you about “The Badge,” where you acted and produced. What was it like doing both roles?

DM: Luckily for me, my production duties were pretty limited. I didn’t have to do as much as some of the other producers. So it was good to be a part of that production package, but I just didn’t have that many producing responsibilities. And I’m grateful for that because I was able to focus on being in front of the camera.

AC: Tell us about “My Dead Ex.” That had to be so much fun filming that.

DM: It was a lot of fun. I didn’t have the biggest part, but sometimes having fun on the set can take whatever the part is and make you enjoy it even more. That’s what I did. I had a really good time on set.

AC: You’ve done a lot of different roles, TV shows, movies, commercials. What draws you to a role?

DM: Just telling the story. As an actor what you’re involved in is telling a story and if you feel the part is involved enough in telling the story to give some value to you that’s encouragement to take it. I like to see an arc, where you see the character go from Point A to Point B, and you see their emotions come out, and you see their reason why. That is part of telling that story and what makes it valuable to me to go do it. I have to a have a reason for being and once the character has a reason for being and once I identify with that, then boom, you jump on it.

AC: Being a veteran of this business, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?

DM: One of the biggest changes is the sheer volume of content. There is just so much content now. When I was a kid there were three stations, ABC, CBS, and NBC. Now you have streaming and now I can pull up my phone and watch Netflix. There’s just so much material that I feel it gives actors more opportunities. And the type of content, from comic book movies to strong social dramas to “Handmaid’s Tale,” all these various dramas are just very encouraging for the actor to participate in. You have a bigger playpen. It’s also a better time for people of color. I came up in a time where I was definitely told, no there is no way they’re hiring anybody black for that role. And now just the other day I went in on a part where they were definitely looking for somebody white and I went in, and they said, no we’ll go with him instead, meaning me. So there’s been a lot of changes.

AC: What are your thoughts as you watch all this stuff going on with all the stories coming out related to the Time’s Up and MeToo movements?

DM: I wasn’t surprised by some of what I heard. Men who have had a certain amount of power have traditionally misbehaved. It’s good that that action is being stopped so that women and people in general can have good opportunities to get parts without going through all that nonsense. 

AC: You’re married to a very accomplished actress, Ella Joyce. How did you two meet?

DM: Our director introduced us. I was going into a reading, to do a staged reading. They handed out the scripts, everyone was being introduced and I was like, excuse me, what’s your name again? We introduced ourselves to each other, then the director got us into our positions and we started working. And I remember as we were reading I was looking over and saying to myself, wow, she’s really good! And after I think it was, hey what are you doing, would you like to get a cup of coffee or something like that.

AC: So considering how busy you both are, what’s the key to your balancing your work and your marriage?

DM: Well having a full trust in each other when you’re together makes it easier to have full trust in each other when you’re not together. We were split up for about three months this year because she was in Chicago doing a show and I was here doing another project. So I made a point of going out there because I wanted to see her show. She’s excellent on stage. But dealing with being apart has been part of our lives since we first hooked up. Right after that staged reading, I was just talking about, I ended up going to Europe for four months after that. We weren’t even going together then but when I came back, guess who I ran into. So there’s been a certain kismet in our relationship that way. But the biggest thing is having a mutual goal and having the patience and the laughter with one another to deal with whatever comes your way to try to slap you down.

AC: You’ve been in the business for a long time, what advice do you have for actors just starting out, or for those who are struggling to remain in it?

DM: I think it’s a mind-body thing. You have to have a certain focus on what you intend to do, in order to keep going with the grind. And I say the body because your body is your instrument. People say that but it’s true. You have to keep in a certain physical shape just so you can go out and do the gig. As you said, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m not getting younger. So it’s important to keep in good physical condition. And you have to be moderate with vices. You have to keep it together.

Photography By Haldane Morris

Instagram: @actordanmartin

To hear and see more of Dan, check back soon to see his video interview with Hollywood Blvd Magazine’s Anissa Claiborne.

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