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Two Rangers at the Vincentian Festival

Rocco Manuel Spiezio/Aleteia
Sheree Wilson at Finding Vince 400 Film Fest
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Two of the stars of the popular TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" are present at "Finding Vince 400": Clarence Gilyard and Sheree Wilson

Clarence Gilyard, the television star known for his roles in Matlock, and Walker, Texas Ranger alongside Chuck Norris, is present and very active with the Vincentians at their “Finding Vince 400” Festival. Besides his artistic activity, Gilyard teaches theater at the University of Las Vegas. During a break in the projections at the “Finding Vince 400” Festival, Aleteia caught up with him and interviewed him. Our first question was, “How did you meet Vince [that is, St. Vincent de Paul]?” With smile, he answered, “During World Youth Day in Krakow… I had the blessing of being able to speak to the Vincentian Youth two days before the start of the WYD, giving my testimony, and it was just after the appointment of Father Tomasz as Superior General. He invited me and my spiritual director to talk to kids about a new film about St Vincent de Paul.” He then added, “St. Vincent is alive in my life and my spirituality.”

Rocco Manuel Spiezio/ Aleteia
Clarence Gilyard at Finding Vince 400 Festival

During the screening of the film – the festival’s theme is the relationship between poverty and charity – Clarence was able to compare these works with his experiences around the world. He explained thus his relationship with cinema: “The big screen, the impact on viewers—only in this way can you make so many people understand things like these. Everyone should see the shorts I’ve seen these days, starting with my children.” The powerful images of the cinema, of short films like those presented in these days, is the best way to make people understand certain issues, and he says that is why he has decided that he’s going to show these works to his students in Las Vegas during his courses. “The investigation of human nature exists in the great texts of world literature, but it’s not enough to just follow the script and do close-ups; you need to be able to ask questions about relationships between people. Even a blockbuster can touch the viewers’ hearts.” Compassion and empathy are necessary for a good actor, otherwise we remain on the surface of communication. “My creed as an actor is, ‘If you’re not vulnerable, you’re useless.'”

Along with Clarence on the jury is his friend and colleague Sheree Wilson. She told us how her passion for acting comes from when she was small, when, accompanied by her mother at the parish, she gave her first performance as part of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. While she was half-paralyzed by fear and nerves, her mother gave her the strength to go forward without fear, “and I enjoyed it like crazy,” she said, laughing. She was raised in a Christian family that supported her and accompanied her during her studies. Her faith has accompanied her throughout her career, moving her to refuse roles where she did not feel comfortable, avoiding scripts that included disrespect for God or religion, nudity, or pornography, trying to be consistent with her beliefs. “I worked with Clarence for about nine years in Walker, Texas Ranger,” says Sheree, “in this work rich in moral and positive values in which the good guys win and the bad guys always get what they deserve, and for me it was a great opportunity.” The actress went on: “Clarence, who was very involved with the Catholic Church and Vincentian Festival, called me to participate as a judge, and I have been grateful and surprised to see such a broad collective of filmmakers and actors united by the same goal—to serve the poor—each with his own spirituality. In fact, it’s not a Christian festival, but includes the whole of humanity. We must be available for each other,” she says.  “I’ve always loved my work, because it allows me to walk for many miles in someone else’s shoes,” she said, alluding to the many roles that an actor can interpret in a career, and the many viewpoints that actors must take on. “I love people and I love to listen to them, and that’s part of my job: immersing myself in their lives… Art and spirituality and charity come together perfectly, because real storytelling, the true ability to tell a story by whichever means, is to connect people, touching their heartstrings with love, fear, and joy.”

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