Catherine Dent Teases GANG RELATED and Lifetime project GUILTY AT 17

"21 Grams" Los Angeles PremiereHow far would you go to support a friend?  Would you lie?  Would you lie about a teacher?  Would you accuse that teacher of sexual harassment just to keep that friend?  What would you do if that teacher then committed suicide?  Would you feel guilty?

That’s the slant of Lifetime network’s Guilty at 17, which stars Erin Sanders (Eden Baldwin on The Young and the Restless).  With Baldwin in the cast is Catherine Dent (Gang Related, The Shield).

I recently had the privilege to chat with Dent about this role, her work in Gang Related, and some future prospects.

A Family Project

Dent is excited about her role on the Lifetime project Guilty at 17 because she, as a mother, appreciates the chance to play on a network that “digs up stories that parents and children can watch together.”  She says, “I play the mother of a high school student who gets in a little bit of trouble.”   The premise of the show reveals the domino effect one lie makes in the life of this teenage girl.

Gang Related Teaser

Dent is well-known for her role as D.A. Ellis in Gang Related, a part she tells me was written for a man.  “I think they wanted to sort of play around with gender identity.  Also, the D.A. of California is a woman.”  Teasing about upcoming episodes leading to the season finale, she tells me, “There’s a little bit of an interesting twist there that I really can’t reveal.”

When I ask about past experiences in acting (such as her role as Officer Danny Sofer in the ever-popular The Shield) and how they’ve maybe shaped her or prepared her to play Ellis, Dent confides, “I was lucky I was a series regular for the entire run of The Shield.  The more you work, I think the more comfortable you feel in acting.  I do a lot of research as to how I would behave and carry myself if I were in a position like that of D.A. Ellis.”

Possible Pilot for AMC Network

As we speak, Dent is exhausted, having just returned from a three-week shoot in the mountains of Utah, where she filmed a possible pilot for the AMC Network called Galyntine (produced by Ridley Scott).  She tells me, “It’s from the creators of The Walking Dead.   Jason Cahill from Fringe is the writer/executive producer, and it’s a science fiction TV series that takes place 450 years in the future after a cataclysmic event.  Technology is  a thing of the past, and there’s a group of survivors living completely off the grid, cleaning their own food.  It’s sort of a new world.  It’s very different, but it was a lot of fun to film.  Peter Fonda (who also stars) was great to work with.  He’s a total doll.  I loved him.  It was great to spend some time hanging out with him again.  It was me and Peter Fonda, Amy Madigan (Fringe, Grey’s Anatomy), and a couple of actors from Australia.   We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the pilot.”

A Short Film

Dent hopes one day to do some directing, and she has at least one project already under her belt.  It was a short film called Silk, and Dent not only directed it but produced and wrote it as well.  “It’s about a  woman who was forced into a marriage as a child, when she was ten, and it was developed through an American Film Institute workshop.   I definitely want to direct more.  I’ve spent so many years in television.  My goal and my desire is to direct TV.  I love TV.  There’s so much good writing there, and there’s great opportunities with diversity of characters and storylines.”

Complete Exhaustion

Nowadays Dent looks forward to a bit of sleep and rest.  “I just shot Galyntine up on a mountain in Utah, and it was hot and dusty.  It was like working on a rodeo for fourteen hours a day.  I’m exhausted.  I think I’ll sleep for the next month.”

Guilty at 17 airs on Lifetime on Sunday, July 20, at 7 P.M.