After almost 20 years, former NOVA student Jim Klock still attributes his success to when he received a little nudge in the right direction from a drama class professor at NOVA-Alexandria. Klock, who enjoyed acting in high school before becoming a law enforcement officer, said he never would have become the actor, director or producer he is today if he hadn’t heard some words of encouragement from Professor Brenda Lewis-Holmes.
“The moment I met her, I felt like we clicked and she was just so passionate about the work,” Klock recalled. I was a high school athlete and after graduating I was working as a police officer when I started taking classes at NOVA. Dr. Lewis-Holmes connected with me from the beginning. On the first assignment, I did this monologue and after class she pulled me to the side and told me I had potential and I should consider acting as a profession.”
Previously, no one had ever encouraged Klock to go into acting. Although he did well in high school plays, he said he didn’t receive the kind of feedback and encouragement to pursue a career in the arts until he took Lewis-Holmes’ class. Klock was placed in the lead role for multiple productions directed and organized by Lewis-Holmes, and these opportunities gave him even more courage to follow his passion for acting.
Klock, still working as a police officer, started acting, directing and producing in the D.C. metropolitan area in an effort to gain more experience outside the classroom. He fully engulfed himself in the world of acting by reading books about making films and getting involved in the acting scene in the region. He made his first feature film in 2001 called My Turn.
Lewis-Holmes not only encouraged Klock to fully pursue acting and creating films, she also taught him about the business of acting and work ethic. Klock said her energy and her encouraging words were just the little push he needed.
“It was an environment that was really beneficial for me. Dr. Lewis-Holmes taught me about work ethic, rehearsals and to have ambition. She would say, ‘There are no short cuts in acting. You have to do the work.’”
Klock’s hard work has paid off; he went from Virginia law enforcement to TV law enforcement, appearing in shows such as Scream Queens, True Detective, NCIS: New Orleans, Nashville and The Astronaut Wives Club. Klock can also be seen in the 2016 film The Whole Truth which also stars Keanu Reeves, Rene Zellweger and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Adding producer and director to his resume also gave Klock a sense of achievement and freedom. He explains that creating your own work and telling your own stories allows you to never have to wait on a phone call about a movie or TV role.
“When I create and direct, it takes out that element of waiting for a phone call,” he said. “At this point, I’ve done almost every job it takes to create a film.”
Although Klock keeps a busy schedule, he often still works as a police officer when he returns to Virginia simply because he enjoys helping others and being a part of his community. He also gives back by being a part of projects and organizations that encourage youth to get involved in the arts. He is currently working on a program that teaches kids acting, performing arts, visual arts and other aspects of filmmaking.
“These projects are very important because I do this as a police officer in Virginia. These kids have the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with police and that builds a relationship,” he said. “They’ll be the people who tell the stories about their own communities, and we have to make sure we’re creating and encouraging our next storytellers.”
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.