"I was heading in the wrong direction..."
Being chosen to play varsity as a high school freshman, Dennis Lockman was confident in his passion for basketball. All of this came to a halt when he had knee surgery, and God began calling him into the entertainment industry. Dennis attended SHINE twice, and has been a working in the industry ever since. He has won several national dance championships, and was the fist hip hop artist to ever win the national competition, Show Stopper. With plans to pursue an acting, modeling and dancing career, Dennis is listening to God’s voice.
When did you realize that you wanted to be involved in entertainment?
I actually started dancing when I was six, just as a hobby. I went through SHINE, got twelve callbacks but did not sign with anyone. So I continued on with life and played basketball, eventually making the varsity team my freshman year. My sophomore year I had knee surgery, and God said, “You’re not supposed to be playing basketball, you’re supposed to be dancing, acting and modeling.” So I was like, “Alright, so what do I do now?” That’s when God told me to go back through AMTC and SHINE.
So I went through again, and that’s really how I got connected into the entertainment industry. I felt like God was saying, “I’m going to allow you to have knee surgery so you understand that basketball isn’t what you are supposed to do, and entertainment is what you are supposed to do.”
How did the knee surgery help you to grow in your faith?
Overcoming the knee surgery was definitely one of the most difficult obstacles I have ever faced. Before that surgery I did not really know God. I knew of Him, but I had no relationship with Him. That is the whole reason I am in the entertainment industry today: because of my knee surgery and because of God changing the course of my life. I was heading in the wrong direction, and Christ turned me around.
What was the difference between your first and second SHINE's?
Preparation. The first time I went through, I didn’t really know what I was doing. SHINE was only a competition to me, and I didn’t really have a relationship with God. I got callbacks, which was awesome, but I didn’t do anything with them. The second time I went through, I really felt like it was my calling; like God wanted me to go through. I prepared hard every day. I ended up getting 28 callbacks, signed with a manager in Los Angeles, and signed with a modeling agency in Texas.
What happened after the conference?
I am currently living in Dallas, but am heading out to LA soon. I had to finish up high school before I could move out to LA. So work-wise, I received a few things. I had a role in the movie, 8 DAYS, which has recently been premiering. I’m very excited to see how that whole thing turns out because I feel like it will have an impact on so many people. I signed with Kim Dawson and have been filling out my modeling book with test shoots and a few shows here and there. I also signed with my manager, Nelson Diaz, a few months ago. It is really cool to be signed with him because Nelson is an AMTC graduate, successful performer, and has his own management company.
In dancing, I won four or five national dance championships. We are competing in nationals again this year. I recently auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance and made it to the second round! I am definitely planning to audition again soon.
What was it like filming 8 Days?
My favorite part about the whole thing is just being able to meet everyone. Acting has not always been my strong suite, but I truly enjoyed and loved the atmosphere that was around me. It did not even feel like I was working. I felt like I was having fun, acting and trying to play a part in inspiring the world to see how great of an issue human trafficking is. That was probably the best part.
The most difficult thing about having a role in 8 Days was believing in myself; believing that I could do play a character in such a powerful film. God really helped me to overcome that fear.
What was it like to play a character that was not at all like you?
(Pauses) Wow. Playing the role of someone completely different than me was hard, but also exciting and fun. You just have to out your mind in a completely different perspective. What helped me was talking to performers I know: getting advice from them and seeing how they act in the movies where they have to play a difficult character.
How did you decide that you wanted to move from Dallas to LA? Was that a tough decision, being that you are so close to your family?
I’m moving out to LA to start my career. I really feel like God is calling me to go out there, because I feel like LA is spiritually going downhill. God is telling me to go out there with a bunch of my Christian buddies from AMTC, and hopefully through us, He will impact LA and the world.
What made me want to go was God. He has really just been pulling me over there for a while. I am just trying to listen to Him. To be honest, I don’t have many jobs planned for moving there yet. I am just really wanting to hear His voice because I feel like He is going to provide; He is going to get me work and use me to inspire others. I am not really worried about what He has planned for me, because I trust Him.
People who want to go straight to LA or Hollywood for the sole purpose of getting famous are lost. Going out there as a strong believer, I know that God is going to move through me and inspire the people He wants. My vision is for God’s glory. The only reason I am going to LA is to be used by Christ to help to make disciples.
It is definitely a struggle for my family, because I have been living with them for eighteen years. I am the first born, so it is difficult. That being said, they are very excited for me and are really supporting of my passions.
Going back to SHINE, what stood out to you?
An awesome experience that I noticed from SHINE… that is tough, because there were so many. AMTC taught me that it is okay to be a Christian and work in the entertainment industry. The organization helped me to build a relationship with Christ, and has really helped out my family a lot. My mom is now the head AMTC dance coach in Dallas, my dad is working for AMTC security and I am on staff. AMTC has really been such an amazing, humbling experience that has not only transformed me, but my family.
Any advice you would like to offer to aspiring performers?
Just like sports, you really have to put preparation into being a performer. If you don’t prepare or practice, you will never be good at it. If you are already good at it, you will never grow.