Photos courtesy of Gail Clarke
Article by Bobjohnson

Gail Clarke hopes to change the mind-set of urban and inner-city youth worldwide through a film she wrote and produced—Merchant in the Valley, about a young man who is a drug king-pin and thinks he is untouchable. Clarke, owner of Mighty Rock Entertainment, premiered Merchant in the Valley before packed houses on October 18, 22, and 25th at The Quad Theatre in Saginaw. "It gives you both sides of life, the good and the bad. It is real life," says Clarke, who also stars in the film. "This movie was birthed out of frustration with the problems youth are facing in our community, to show them that they have a choice."

The idea for the movie first started out as a play performed by people within Clarke's social circle of artists and poets. Clarke decided to turn her play into a movie after a Saginaw pastor sparked the idea. "If you have a desire for something and you believe in it, prepare because when the opportunity presents itself you will be ready. When preparation and opportunity meet, magic happens," she says.

No stranger to the industry, Clarke is a second-generation actor and one-time model; her father owned his own theatre in Jamaica and was also an actor. As a child growing up in Jamaica, she attended many plays and even helped out on some occasions. Her family came to America when she was 15 years old, and Clarke lived in New York and Texas before settling in Saginaw, where she is a contributing writer to Word Up, a local community magazine, and is in the process of publishing a book as well as a CD. Her enthusiasm for the arts runs deep: "Art for me is a means to an end; art is a language—a form of communication to reach a lot of people. I love art, all forms of it."

Although Clarke says her number one desire is to do God's will, she understands that everyone cannot be reached through preaching and church. "Some people you have to teach through arts such as music, movies, and poetry because that is the only way they can be reached," she says.

Clarke plans to arrange showings of Merchant in the Valley in Bay City and Midland before shopping it around. For more information about the film and upcoming events for Clarke, contact her nuwine2010[at]

© Bobjohnson, 2009