We’ve all heard the phrase “when opportunity knocks, answer the door,” and for Mark Justice, this has become a motto by which he lives his life.
Justice grew up in McDermott and graduated from Northwest High School — now he’s a successful actor, model and producer.
It all started when he decided to move to Las Vegas, right after high school.
“I worked as an executive chef here, and when I moved, I took the first job I could get waiting tables,” said Justice. “I just happened to wait on a casting director, he approached me and said ‘you know you have a good look, have you ever thought about acting?’ And at the time I was like, ‘no not really,’ but it did pique my interest.
“I started looking around and one of the very first things I auditioned for was Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, it was an interactive comedy play on the strip. I landed the lead role and it’s taken off from there.”
Now Justice resides in Los Angeles, where he’s continued his work in the entertainment industry.
After starring in several projects, Justice was offered a role as a producer, something he never thought he would do and he seized the opportunity.
“Initially, I never really had an interest in being a producer or being on the back side of things. But I’m one of those people who likes to have knowledge. I was offered a position as a producer on a small film about eight or nine months ago, and I took it. I learned a lot and I enjoyed making those connections and making things happen. Since, I’ve produced about ten projects.”
Justice is not only a producer, but is now part-owner of production company, Unfiltered Dreams Productions.
Justice is currently working as a producer for a new television series, titled Sins, his biggest project yet.
The series is set to be shot in Georgia from August through November and stars several well-known actors including, Henry Czerny best known from the film Mission Impossible, Danielle Campbell known for her role in the television series Prison Break and Silvio Wolf Busch who is known for his role in the movie adaptation of John Green’s novel, The Fault in Our Stars.
Justice aims to involve as many local people as possible in the project. “We’ve held auditions in Louisville,” explained Justice. “I’m hoping with the second season and beyond, we can bring auditions to Columbus and the tri-state area. We linked the production company with an entertainment attorney out of Ashland, we’re really focusing on trying to keep everything as local as possible.”
In addition to his work on Sins, Justice will be starring as Jonah in the film Bleach, where he worked alongside actress Mindy Robinson known for her role in V/H/S 2, Oscar-nominated actor Eric Roberts known for his role in The Dark Knight, and Lorenzo Lamas who starred in Grease and several other productions.
Bleach is a psychological thriller set to debut in the fall of 2016. The film follows the story of a man and the extreme measures he takes in an attempt to stop the ghosts of the girls he murdered in a snuff film from haunting him, while trying to keep the authorities off his back as well.
“You find yourself on set and you look around and say ‘wow this is what I do for a living,’ in The Immortal Wars, I fell out of a one-story building and onto the hood of a car, and I forgot my cell phone was in my pocket and I shattered the phone. It took a moment to realize ‘yeah I shattered my phone, but who else has that story?’ Another time, I was thrown through a wall by Tito Ortiz and that doesn’t just happen every day. I try not to take anything for granted, I appreciate every moment I get on set,” said Justice.
But despite his rising fame, Justice stays humble and enjoys every opportunity that comes his way.
“I’ve always resented those celebrities who act like they’re better than everyone else.” Justice explained. “I try to be open to conversation and talking with people. At some point, someone inspired me to do what I do and gave me the opportunity and I want to be that somebody for the younger generations.”
He also has plans to create a non-profit organization for the Portsmouth region, in efforts to foster creative endeavors and support the local arts and entertainment scene.
“Things are different now, but when I was growing up here, there wasn’t a lot of push for theatrical arts. I think it’s something that should be, and could be bigger here,” explained Justice. “When I was younger, if you even thought about pursuing a career in modeling, acting and entertainment, you would’ve been ridiculed for it. I think the nation is a lot more open to new things, and I think this area should be a part of it.”
Although Justice has been a part of several successful projects, and hasn’t lived in the area for over five years, there is still a stigma on what it means to be Appalachian and being successful.
“I’ve left auditions and when they ask me where I’m from and I say ‘southern Ohio,’ they say ‘oh.’ I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s a good or a bad thing,” he explained. “As soon as you mention where you’re from, people have these per-conceived notions about what you should be like. I try to break that mold and those stereotypes.”
For more information about Justice and his upcoming projects, you can follow ‘Unfiltered Dreams Productions,’ on Facebook, or IMDB ‘Mark Justice.’
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.