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Move Over Milla Jovovich; Meet Alicia Deven Clark [INTERVIEW]

This September, the independent zombie flick Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption (2011) will be released on DVD. After being screened in the spring at the 2011 Motor City Nightmares, ZA: R walked away with “Best Movie Made in Michigan.” The film features Hollywood B-movie legend Fred “The Hammer” Williamson (known by many as Frost in From Dusk Till Dawn, with the other undead) playing a survivor camp leader named Moses. ZA: R also includes a talented cast that would put many of the has-beens you see on SyFy to shame. (I’m looking at you, Tiffany and Deborah Gibson!)

One of the characters in this new zombie movie is a bad-ass chick named, Sarah, played by Alicia Deven Clark. While Moses may make the final decisions in the camp, Sarah is the muscle that backs it up…and if she can’t kick someone’s ass, she’ll just shoot them. So, when Johnny Knox, a fugitive from another survivor camp, is rescued from a zombie attack, Sarah just wants to put a bullet in Knox to save time. She’s convinced he’ll bring nothing but trouble, and resents the trust that Moses has placed in Knox. In my opinion, it seemed like Knox was stepping on Sarah’s toes the minute he woke up at their camp.

It doesn’t take Knox very long to see past the combat boots, and show a romantic interest in Sarah, but she’s not having it. She’s obviously conflicted about showing any emotion, but all that changes after she is taken prisoner by the rival survivor group.

Miss Clark was nice enough to have a sit down with me, and spill her guts about her role as Sarah…

Q. What did you think of your character Sarah compared to other zombie movie female roles? Did you find her to be any more realistic?

The difference between Sarah and other female roles in this genre is her exceptional strength and passion for her group to survive together. She has a thick history with being second in command and losing her fiancé to zombies (in the script, unfortunately the movie wasn’t long enough). It is never about how many zombies she could kill in a day, or slaughtering enemy humans for sport. Every day is one step closer to finding a safe place and surviving longer, for the sake of her group. If she can’t have her family back, she can help others and grow a family together to survive the grim days ahead. Her potential to lead after Moses was jeopardized by Knox, which she hated him for, but ultimately becomes the reason she falls for him. She is as real as any girl who would lie down her life to protect people she cares for. Yes, definitely she is a very real person; she is not a sexy cliché character one always finds in horror zombie films.

From the movie, Stuntman (2011).

Q. I know a lot of actresses that would feel the need for a stand-in, but you did all of your own stunts. Did you have any idea how physically demanding the role would be? Were you concerned about getting injured?

I am a very active person with a lot of background training. Before this movie, I never used a stand-in, did not have one for ZA:R, working on building up my skills for future projects so I can be challenged enough to look like I went to stunt school… and when I’m that advanced, then yes, that’s where a stand-in would have a fun job doubling up with me.

I never feared a stunt or action sequence on set. I even tasted car stunts with Dan Lang (Doc Potter) in a Jeep, I thought we were going to flip; it was a great adrenaline rush… Our stunt coordinators were very accommodating with choreography to fit the capability of the actors. However, I am disappointed that most of my fight choreography ultimately had to be cut due to the physical incapability of the actress I was working with for my big fight scenes.

Injuries can happen when one is killing zombies in 5” heels… I rolled my ankle during a fight sequence, however due to lack of time, I was not allowed to take care of it and had to soldier on through. Was I concerned? … I didn’t have time to be. And, since I designed and constructed the “prisoner costume” I was wearing myself and those were my own boots, I knew what I could do and gave myself as much freedom to do it.

Alicia as Sarah in ZA: R

Q. While you’ve played a variety of roles in several genres, you seem to be a natural when it comes to action/horror movies. What kind of fighting and weapons training have you had?

Why thank you, I can’t say I have broken into the horror film business… but I have been told I can pull off a couple of good looks for this particular industry. And I’m actually a Vampire slash Robot, my secret trump cards. My main issue with this genre is the stereotypical roles that I think need a bit of switching. A woman can train and be just as badass on screen, being the strongest protagonist within the pool of characters, and have a man a step below asking all the questions. Watching a female do all stunts that scriptwriters are eager to give the male character… yeah ten times hotter. My hope is to step in and prove this statement to the public. The media has finally accepted strong females and we are infiltrating more every year…I am here with full training from all corners of the acting ring, ready to challenge any scriptwriter who doubts this.

I have performed over twenty stage plays and studied with internationally-acclaimed actor combatants while I was at University. My stage training has empowered me to wield a variety of weapons; my favorites being rapier sword when I was Mercutio in William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet… knife fights, hand-to-hand, and quarterstaff. Now, cross the stage fighting with over eight years of dance and yoga training: I’ve put myself to a great advantage compared to most actresses. Recent film workshops helped me learn more about camera angles and cheating the physical space with my movement. Now, over forty films later… I’m still learning, but people forget, I went to school for this shit… and graduated. Not just waiting tables after my fifth movie for my big break. The experience actors pay hundreds of dollars for… I’ve already got under my belt. Let’s make a movie. I wasn’t dubbed “Woman of a Thousand Faces” by director Ryan Thompson for no reason.

Q. Sarah and Knox seem to have a love/hate thing going on throughout the movie. Was it more awkward to punch “Knox” in the face (several times), or film the intimate scenes?

It’s only awkward if people make it awkward. Johnny and I established a great friendship on set that showed created chemistry on film, and I believe he knew I wasn’t seriously mad at him when I kicked his ass. Multiple times. I enjoyed the campfire scene we acted together because we grew as actors through one another and discovered a lot about own acting skills while we created. It was a great scene to work on with Johnny. And as always, I loved kicking him in the face.

Gel, Clark, Raphael, Beardmore, Bivona and Nikollaj

Gel, Clark, Raphael, Beardmore, Bivona and Nikollaj

Q. What was it like working with Fred Williamson? Are there any behind-the-scenes stories you could share with us?

Fred Williamson was pure knowledge. He knew every camera trick from any angle, he told me stories of bizarre experiences he had “back in the day” on set. He was a man who gave maybe three takes and then he moves on to the next shot. We even had a great talk about the Michigan Film Tax Incentive and he was the first person to really educate me on the subject. He also told me my future, but I can’t really share that with you. Sorry. ;)

Q. Do you ever do special appearances at stores or conventions?

Yes I do make special appearances, but not at conventions, and not as Alicia Deven Clark. I have a stage performance character that has been growing popular between the Detroit and Grand Rapids area. I do improvisational dancing and performances with bands upon request. I’ve been told I inspire people to dance and can draw in a lot of business for myself as well as the venue we perform. I think people are naturally drawn to raw performances and freedom on stage, and I have too much fun interacting on stage as well as off in the crowd. I have two special performances coming up this month alone. Look for locations on my website.

Q. Are you interested in directing or script writing? What can your fans expect from you in the coming months?

Surprisingly or not, I love directing; my people skills are second to none and I scare myself with how well I mold actors… but it takes one to know one, which a lot of directors seem to skim over. However, these next several months are already quite full with multi-media projects. I don’t just act, I dance on stage with bands, have a vocal project that I’m starting on the next six months, design makeup for stage shows, model around Michigan; whoever wants to follow me can try to keep. The main goal people can expect is to see Alicia Deven branching out more. I already have films releasing internationally besides ZA: R, I’d like to have thicker exposure through the nation. I’m open to talk to anyone. Weird… I don’t think I have ‘fans’, I’d call them “good people who are interested in really awesome things done by a true artist.”

Q. One last question for the zombiephiles…if you ever found yourself in a zombie outbreak, what do you think you would do?

First, I’d do what any young, ambitious, ass-kicking actress would do: offer them a real stout Michigan-made microbrew first, chat them up… and then decide it’s not a good idea to chat up a crowd of zombies. I’d probably start letting them know we can no longer socialize by killing them in as many different ways possible. Then grab the rest of my brews, sit on a London rooftop, and finish them off with other badass survivors while we shoot them down with laser guns. Because this actress never runs out of laser guns.

Thank you for being interested in my career and what I have to say. Cheers!

(You can see more of Alicia here and there.)

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