Interview: Catherine Dent
by Scott Juba
Published: March 15, 2005
Television dramas don’t come much grittier than “The Shield”, and actresses don’t come much more talented or hard working than Catherine Dent. Dent, who stars as Officer Danny Sofer on the popular FX show, isn’t an actress who’s had her success handed to her. She’s faced many challenges on the road to success, yet she always seems to persevere.
Dent tells me she first became interested in acting during junior high. “It was an escape for me while my parents were going through a very messy divorce,” she says. “The theatre became a place where I could paint sets and hang out with people until two o’clock in the morning, and my mother knew where I was. When you’re fourteen it’s cool to be out anywhere at two o’clock in the morning. It was a refuge for me and an escape. I really dug it.”
Since then Dent has had many high profile theatre and film roles, acting alongside greats such as Jim Carrey and Sean Penn. It’s her current role on “The Shield” (whose new season premieres tonight on FX), however, that has brought her the most attention. This season Glen Close has been added to the show’s already stellar cast to shake up the chemistry of the series. “Glen Close plays the new captain of the precinct,” Dent explains. “They brought in someone with an ego as big, if not bigger, than Vic Mackey’s. It’s a very interesting dynamic. Michael Chiklis’ character, Vic, is a huge presence. They brought her in to play heavy duty tennis with him.”
As far as Dent’s character is concerned, she tells me, “One of the directions that the series is going through with all of the characters, and especially mine since I have a black partner, is to explore issues of race in the Los Angeles area. Race is a topic that a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about, and they find it difficult to accept that [this conflict] really does exist. So there’s a lot of racial tension that’s happening in the storylines, and it’s happening because of some of the new policies Glen Close’s character is implementing.”
She adds, “People are very complicated, and the show mirrors society in that way. None of us are cut and dry stereotypical people who are either good or bad. We all fight our own sense of uncertainty about the world. The show’s a direct reflection on what most of us experience in our day to day lives.”
In addition to drawing impressive ratings, “The Shield” is routinely nominated for television’s top awards. While Dent is appreciative of the nominations, she uses a different barometer to gauge the show’s success. “I’m much more interested in what the fans’ response is,” she tells me. “It’s really nice to be so well received by viewers. That to me is what’s most gratifying.”
Whether from fans, critics, or industry professionals, praise for Dent’s work continues to pour in. But why would anyone expect anything less for an actress with a resume as impressive as Dent’s?