Menlo-Atherton High School grad Zachary Clarence found himself in the spotlight last month when he made a two-minute film focusing on police and race relationships called Feeling Hopeful that was posted on Facebook. But it isn’t filmmaking that is first on Zach’s agenda but rather acting.
“Ever since my parents dragged me kicking and screaming to theater camp, I’ve loved acting,” he explained during a phone conversation from his current home in Brooklyn. “I went every summer all through middle school [at Hillview] and high school.”
Zach was in the first play performed at the M-A Performing Arts Center — The Rimers of Eldritch — and before the new theater opened, performed in Bye Bye Birdie “on tables taped together in the gym.”
He describes himself as a “shy kid” growing up. “I loved the community of acting,” he said. “The respect I got from adults. And I just loved getting into other people’s stories.”
After graduating with a BFA from Boston University’s School of Theater, he moved to New York City. “My aspiration is to do TV and film, and most of my friends who are doing that live in New York. I like the quick turnover of TV.”
Zach says he writes “out of necessity.” “It tends to be a lot of dark comedy.” His production company is called C-16, after that wing at M-A.
His latest film, The Women’s Bathroom Project, about fighting HB2 and other discriminatory bills towards the transgender community, won Best Screenplay at the Fargo Moorhead LGBT Film Festival and also screens at the Palm Springs LGBT Film Festival later this month.
An earlier film of C-16 Productions called A Mother’s Love is now competing in the New England Online Film Festival after winning a Special Recognition Award at the Boston International Film Festival earlier this year. It can be viewed online.
The way Zach “pays the bills” may be surprising to some. He’s a nanny. “I like kids a lot,” he said. “And it’s a great job for me. It’s flexible when audition opportunities come up.”
Returning to the subject of the Facebook video, Zach said he had “zero expectations” when he made it. “It’s had something like 17,000 views which is big for me but short of what I’d call viral,” he said. “What’s been great is that so many people have been supportive and said how moving the film is. And that’s what I hoped to do: encourage empathy and guidance amidst the racial violence we’re seeing in this country.”