Clarinda's Bio

Clarinda was born in Georgia and grew up in Boone, North Carolina, where both her parents were professors at Appalachian State University. Clarinda’s father, the late Dr. Carl A. Ross, Jr., was chairman of the Appalachian Studies Department at ASU and a respected historian. Her mother, Charlotte, is a renowned storyteller of the Appalachian region. Ms. Ross graduated from Appalachian State with a B.A., having majored in Theatre and minored in Dance. Upon graduation, she was immediately cast in the Acting Conservatory Program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Clarinda worked for many years in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Alliance Theatre, the Horizon Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Theatre in the Square, and ART Station, Inc. She also spent several seasons as a leading lady with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

One of the youngest recipients ever, Ms. Ross received an individual artist grant from the National Endowment for the Arts at age twenty-four. She used the grant to create her first play, “From My Grandmother’s Grandmother Unto Me”, which was developed and directed by David Thomas. The play is based on Clarinda’s southern ancestors. “Grandmother” was a runaway hit at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC and was featured in the Olympic Arts Festival in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994 and at the summer games in Atlanta in 1996. Clarinda also starred in the film version of the play for PBS, directed by John David Allen.

Her feature film credits include; “Flipped”, directed by Rob Reiner. “Blue Sky”, directed by Sir Tony Richardson and starred Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones. And, “Fluke”, with Matthew Modine and Eric Stoltz, directed by Italian auteur Carlo Carlei. Ms. Ross has had numerous television Guest Star appearances including “The United States of Tara”, and several television movies – most notably the Emmy award-winning “Stolen Babies”.

Clarinda recently received her MFA in Creative Writing for Performance from the University of California at Riverside’s Palm Desert low-residency program. While at UCR/PD she was the recipient of the Barbara Seranella Scholarship for Excellence in Creative Writing. She coordinated student play-readings and served as a graduate teaching assistant in playwriting. Her plays have been produced at several Equity theatres and published by Applause Theatre Books, The Coachella Review, and The Kenyon Review. Her first play, “From My Grandmother’s Grandmother Unto Me” just had it’s thirtieth production. Her screenplay adaptation of Lee Smith’s southern novel, “Family Linen” was a finalist for the New York Women in Television and Film Lab series for women over forty co-sponsored by Meryl Streep. Her mother/son letters play, “Love, M.” based on interviews with mothers, sons, and AIDS activists was featured in the Horizon Theatre’s New South Play Reading Series in Atlanta and nominated for the National New Play Showcase. She is an alumna of the National Winter Playwrights Retreat.

Ms. Ross is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association having served as a National Councilor for many years. She is a Los Angeles delegate for SAG-AFTRA, and a Southern California Ambassador for the Dramatists Guild of America. She has three children, Clara, Frank, and Gus and is married to the actor/producer Googy Gress. Her family splits their time between California and North Carolina. She is increasingly sure that greed is the problem.

Writing Excerpts

‘From My Grandmother’s Grandmother Unto Me’
I am from the very best part of America, The Southern Appalachian Mountains. Now, you might be surprised to hear me put it in quite those terms. Everybody feels sorry for the poor mountaineer.  But, ours is not a poverty of ideas, and certainly not a poverty of culture.  Appalachia is a storied land.  It is filled with people who merely have to close their eyes and hear once again in their heads the sound of the human voice rising and falling on the night air.

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‘The Mythology of Basketball’
In my opinion, the best thing about basketball camp was we got to eat at the cafeteria in the junior college and they had good French fries.  And, when Allen drove us home we got to listen to the rock ‘n’ roll station outta Chattanooga, Tennessee KZ106, and that summer they played the song, “I’m not in love” by 10CC.  I loved that song.

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‘Jeannie’s Eulogy’
Clarinda delivered this eulogy in Los Angeles at the funeral of Jeannie Cheung. Jeannie was 57 years old, a marathon runner, mother of two grown daughters, a non-smoker and an inspiration to many. She lost her battle with lung cancer on February 7th, 2008.

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‘Spit Like a  Big Girl’
Have you ever heard that saying, "Life is what happens on the way to where you're going"? Well, I really believe it's true. Life is made up of those tiny moments in between the big plans and the dreams. Big things in life make us stop and notice the tiny moments. I think it takes a few births, deaths, car wrecks, or natural disasters, before we're even paying attention. Life will just sneak up behind you and sit down at your kitchen table while you’re fixin' supper.

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‘Love, M.’
A letters play based on interviews with mothers, sons, and AIDS activists.

Read & Listen to full play here
‘Family Linen’
A childhood memory re-experienced, a funeral that brings about a dysfunctional family reunion, and the excavation of a swimming pool on the site of an old well uncover secrets and air a family's dirty linen. Three middle-aged southern sisters and their ne'er-do-well brother must piece together the truth about their matriarch before they can move on with their lives.Clarinda's screenplay adaptation of the acclaimed southern writer Lee Smith’s novel was a finalist for the New York WITF Lab series sponsored by Meryl Streep. The script is under option by producer Loucas George/MMI, Ltd.

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