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Produced by Omni Art Salon Productions, Fresh Perspectives with Jeffrey Milburn offers listeners around the world the opportunity to hear fascinating, in-depth conversations with authors, scientists, politicians, doctors, academics, innovators, and artists investigating today’s most compelling ideas and concepts.

Today’s conversation is with veteran television, film and stage actor Joan Van Ark, who is best known to the general public for playing Valerie Ewing on one of the longest running and most popular shows ever on Television, Dallas and then it’s spinoff, Knots Landing.

Perhaps what many do not know about Joan is that she is an amazingly accopmplished stage actor having entered the world of acting and entertainment at a very early age. Joan was the 2nd youngest student to attend one of the finest acting schools in the world, the Yale School of Drama, on a scholarship and has a long list of remarkable stage credits for on and off Broadway productions and other venues around the world.

Joan received a Tony nomination for her performance in “The School for Wives,” and she won the Theater World Award for “The Rules of the Game.” as well as co-starring in the New York production of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning play  “Three Tall Women.”

Joan has had the great fortune to work with some of the most accomplished talent in the world during her extensive career including renowned actors, directors and producers of all stripes. It is not common that an artist can list Julie Harris, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Zoe Caldwell, Mike Nichols, John Rubenstein, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Glynis Johns, Michele Lee, Kevin Dobson, Fran Drescher, Dennis Hopper, Debi Mazar, Tippi Hedren and many many others in ones repertoire of co-creation, but that is exactly what Joan can do.

One of the most interesting things Jeffrey found in researching Joan’s diverse stage credits covering everything from Shakespeare to Sondheim, was her amazing work in 2004 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she originated the role of Mrs. Fenway in “Escape,” part of a world premier of “Five by Tenn,” a collection of newly-found Tennessee Williams one-act plays.  This kind of challenge rarely appears to an actor of any background, and Joan’s 21 minute monologue drew rave reviews, a difficult feat even for the best of the best to attain.

Joan has won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, been nominated for a Tony, been featured on the biographical program, “Intimate Portrait,” on Lifetime, won the Theater World Award, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, earned six nominations and two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress, and in 1997, Joan directed a short documentary on homelessness and domestic violence for the Directors Guild of America, which was nominated for an Emmy.

The greatest achievement for any individual living in the cultural cauldron of Hollywood is longevity and depth. Joan has more than achieved both of these and in the mix has not only managed to remain married to her high school sweetheart, John Marshall, an award winning TV newsman in his own right, but also has raised a daughter, Vanessa Marshall, who is an accomplished actress, director and comedian.

We think you will find Jeffrey’s conversation with Joan who has been in the center of the Hollywood hotbed for years most fascinating and uplifting as you hear what kind of commitment and courage it requires to achieve her kind of success, especially amidst the unrelenting  examination certain elements in the press devote towards those who have risen to the top.  Joan also describes her personal experience with recently assassinated Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, another example of the fierce winds that come with a rarified life.

Hearing how Joan handles challenges, the unknown and ensuing fear vividly brought to our attention what Marianne Williamson said so beautifully about this subject in 1992 in this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

And it is exactly this kind of liberation that Joan Van Ark so clearly demonstrates that is both inspirational and encouraging for anyone whose life is steep . As an artist who has never backed down in the face of difficulty, Joan’s very being leaves one with the impression that quite literally anything is possible with enough focus, determination, perseverance and of course most importantly, love.

Fresh Perspectives theme music Song of a HU is by musician and composer David Young and is available at Davids website which you can get to by clicking on the banner ad with David on the upper right hand side of this website.

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