Professor spotlight: Meet Dr. Joanne Clarke Dillman

Dr. Joanne Clarke Dillman is a senior lecturer of film studies with a knowledgeable background on fem­inist perspectives. We sat down for a Q&A session with Clarke Dillman to dig deep into her teachings, while also reminiscing on how she became one of the most sought out teachers at UW Tacoma.

  • WHERE DID YOU ATTEND COLLEGE FOR UNDERGRAD AND GRADUATE SCHOOL?

I went to Brown University, where I studied English and American lit­erature, as well as American history. I double majored because I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. I went right from undergrad to attend a master’s program in film at Columbia University, and that’s where I learned to do screenwriting and directing.

  • WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE AND PRODUCE SCREENPLAYS?

I think that it stemmed from high school when I would used to babysit, and I would watch movies all the time, since there were movies playing all the time. I remember when I was in high school and I snuck downstairs to watch “Fahrenheit 451,” and I watched it in the middle of the night, and after it was finished, I would stumble back upstairs to sleep. Now, why was I like that? I don’t know! I don’t know why I like movies, I don’t know why I like them so much, but I do.

  • CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT ONE OF YOUR SCREENPLAYS THAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN?

Yes, the one I got an agent with was a romantic-comedy. I wanted to base it off a romantic-comedy where the characters don’t like each other, you know? That’s a pretty traditional ro­mantic-comedy, but at the same time I tried to think of it in a way that would kind of comment on the genre itself.

  • WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSOR?

When I was your age, [24], I was so intimidated by them all! I never thought to become one at all. I mean, I thought they had really neat lives, but I just didn’t think I was good enough at all. When my spouse and I moved to Egypt due to his work in Middle East politics, and I had an MFA in film, and that university had no one teaching film, so they urged me to teach. And that is kind of where I started!

  • I HAVE TO ASK — WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

Gosh, there’s just so many, but I really love “Sunrise” — which is a silent cinema film — and I love “Casablanca” and there’s just so many great movies. You could ask me what’s my favorite movie in every genre, but there’s just too many of those.

  • WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO BE IF YOU WEREN’T A PROFESSOR?

That’s a great question! You know, I actually got accepted into law school, and I thought I would go to law school, and I also got accepted into film school, and I was like … who could not go to film school? My parents were just heart broken, but my brother’s a lawyer, so at least they have one.

  • WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT TEACHING AT UWT?

I really like the energy of the peo­ple. I mean, look at this great conver­sation we’re having, we’re having so much fun! It’s really neat because I see myself in everyone; I remember what it was like to be so nervous and to work hard.

  • WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A PROFESSOR?

Grading people! It’s hard because students think you’re grading them when all you’re doing is grading the work. But, what can you do?

  • DO YOU EVER LOOK AT RATE MY PROFESSOR?

I don’t. My daughter has, but I don’t because if you start reading your re­views, you might start changing how you conduct the class, and I don’t want to be influenced by things. I just want to do my job.

  • OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?

I like being in the outdoors. I like hiking, walking, kayaking and garden­ing. My other interest is reading. That’s really what I do.

  • WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO ALL UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS?

Try to be present in your classes so you can really take in what the teacher’s trying to give you, and realize that it’s cumulative knowledge and change. Learn to really trust yourself and your instincts as well. If you try your best, you can sleep better at night, and that’s all there is to it.


Fun Facts About Dr. Joanne Clarke Dillman:

She loves to travel and has lived out of the country, as well as traveled to the Middle East, Europe, Canada and across the U.S. several times.

She has a springer-spaniel mix named Rory.


PHOTO BY ELLA LUCENTE