Updated: Sep 15
Meet Denice Marie, Our Heart Of Hollywood Magazine Summer Cover Model
Model and actress Denice Marie truly is one in a million. In addition to working in entertainment, she is an Army veteran, a wine expert, and a poet, not to mention our Summer 2023 Cover Model. We invite you to learn more about this stunning woman, featured in our mermaid-inspired cover story.
Can you tell us about your upbringing and how it has shaped you as a person?
I grew up in a small coal mining town in Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania. Everyone worked very hard for a living. It was an immigrant community full of people who brought different cultures, heritages, and traditions with them.
I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. My grandfather immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, specifically from Levoca, in the Prešov area of Czechoslovakia, nestled in the Trans-Carpathian Mountain region. My grandmother and great-grandmother immigrated from Paris, France. So I grew up in the middle of diverse languages and values. It was a very inclusive culture. From an early age, I learned to appreciate diversity. My other cultures worth mentioning are Polish, since my father's family immigrated from Kraków, Poland; Circassian; Ukrainian, thanks to my grandfather's mother's side, and Cherokee, thanks to my maternal great-grandfather.
As a veteran of the United States Army, how has your military service impacted your career in modeling and acting?
Through the military structure and discipline, I learned that I was capable of much more than I thought I was. Too often, people underestimate their own abilities and potential. In modeling and acting, success depends upon one's conviction that one can accomplish more than what is thought to be possible. Through self-discipline and persistence, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. When quitting is not an option, you discover what you are made of and are truly capable of doing.
Can you tell us about your experience working with Tim Burton on the movie ‘Big Fish’?
Tim is a creative genius! He can make any idea a reality. For instance, for the scene featuring the town of Spectre, Tim took a sod farm and envisioned the town of Spectre, which was then built from the ground up. It is a must-see in movie history. The town of Spectre still stands today in Wetumpka, Alabama, 15 miles north of Montgomery, Alabama. Tim is a beautiful soul, and a kind, beautiful human being.
You are Miss Fashion Global Humanitarian Queen 2023. Can you tell us about your involvement with Father Joe's Village, which is an initiative to help the homeless, and your efforts to end suffering?
Being a volunteer at Father Joe's Village and serving the homeless in Father Joe's kitchens profoundly brought home the idea of "there but for the grace of God go I." My mission is to educate and end the stigma of being homeless. Circumstances such as the covid pandemic can cause any one of us to become homeless, due to the loss of jobs, businesses, and careers. We saw this during the shutdown. The stigma is that homelessness is the sole result of people making bad choices. That is so far from the truth. The motto of Father Joe's is "Homeless not Hopeless "
You are also a Cause Entrepreneur for ONEHOPE wine, which is a humanitarian and charity-driven label. Can you tell us about this wine brand and how it came to be?
ONEHOPE wine from Napa Valley is nourishing the future. The ONEHOPE Foundation gives to organizations that provide greater access to water, hunger relief, health, and education– while also supporting local non-profits across the country. ONEHOPE wine is building a force for good. Our founders saw firsthand just how much impact a bottle of wine can have. They began hosting wine tastings to raise money for important causes, and encouraged and inspired others to do the same. Today, ONEHOPE is one of the largest direct-to-consumer wineries in the world and has proudly donated over eight million dollars to local and global causes. When you purchase ONEHOPE wine, you get to choose the charitable cause closest to your heart, and then you can "pour with a purpose."
What has been the biggest challenge in starting and running a wine brand?
People can be very leery about charities. Is the money going to actually go where it is needed? Is it legitimate? When it comes to ONEHOPE the answer is yes! It accomplishes concrete results locally and globally. Through ONEHOPE'S hands-on efforts, for example, poor communities both in the United States and abroad have benefitted, since the ONEHOPE community installed roof solar panels to provide energy to power refrigeration and freezers for milk and nutrition for infants and children,as well as nutrition for nursing mothers and their entire families.
Can you tell us about a defining moment in your life that has led you to who you are today?
I had a multicultural experience growing up thanks to my grandparents. When I came of age, I realized I had to decide whether to abandon or carry on the Old World ways, my culture, my heritage, our faith (the Byzantine Rite and the Eastern Rite), and our lessons. I chose to embrace and carry on those traditions and values.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of modeling, acting, and philanthropy?
Writing poetry and short stories. I am heavily influenced by Ernest Hemingway with his trademark short, staccato sentences. Also opera, and performing opera. I have performed as a Soprano One with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and in Hawaii.
Some of my other interests are cooking, traveling, learning foreign languages, fashion design, reading rather than watching television. swimming, figure skating, keeping up with my classical ballet, going to the beach, keeping up with my Sharpshooter designation by going to the rifle range, interior and exterior design. I like the art of fragrances, white-water rafting, camping, hang-gliding, body surfing, winemaking, and studying history, which I find important so that some moments of history never repeat themselves.
You are a published poet and a member of the International Society of Poets. What are some of your favorite themes you like to explore in your poetry?
I am heavily influenced by Robert Frost and Walt Whitman.More so by Frost. My favorite work of Frost is Mending Wall. I adore Poe, my favorite pieces of Poe are The Raven and The Fall of The House of Usher, which I performed in the theater, which is a great love of mine. I also love reading Shakespeare and have had the chance to also perform some of his works in the theater.
What do you hope audiences take away from your work?
I hope to share an emotion with the audience. Ultimately, I hope to share a gift, which would be a profound and memorable experience.
What is your favorite movie, and what is your favorite song?
It depends on the genre and time period of the movie. However, in the modern genre, I have to say The Green Mile. At times I feel like I am walking my own green mile with only a hint of glimmer of good in a world of bad, especially when I’m trying to do good in our world through my humanitarian work. I will see just a glimmer of good in our world that is in an inherently bad state. In this way, I feel as if I am walking the green mile. I see so much suffering in the process of my humanitarian work. I often feel like John Coffey. I get tired. I see suffering, and as John says in the movie, "I can feel it. It's like bees stingin' me."
As for the song, I would have to say November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. I was born three months early on November 2nd and it was during a stormy November rain that I was born. It's synonymous with my premature birth. My very birth was a November rainstorm, in and of itself.
What is a professional goal of yours?
It has been my lifelong hope to have a movie made about the worst, most catastrophic flood in U.S. history, the May 31st Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889. It has much in common with the Titanic, which through neglect and arrogance ultimately led to her sinking. The story of the Titanic has been told. However, the story of Johnstown in 1889 has never been told through a movie and somehow became just a footnote in history over time.
The 1889 Johnstown flood was not only preventable, it was the result of the arrogance of the wealthy steel titans of the time, who neglected to care for and repair an earthen dam at the expense of maintaining their exclusive Southfork Club to their liking. This would prove to be catastrophic beyond measure.
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Although I grew up in the small coal mining town of Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania, I was a resident of Johnstown from 2005 until I moved to San Diego in 2022. I was actually born in Johnstown, as most of our nearest hospitals were there.
In Johnstown. 2,209 people died. Yes, 99 entire families died, including 396 children. Heartbreakingly, 124 women and 198 men were left widowed. More than 750 victims were never identified and rest in the Plot of the Unknown in Grandview Cemetery in Westmont, a Township of Johnstown. Bodies were found as far away as Cincinnati, and as late as 1911.
Roughly 1,600 homes were destroyed and 17 million dollars worth of property damage was done. Four square miles of downtown Johnstown were completely destroyed. The pile of debris at the stone bridge covered 30 acres. The distance between the dam that failed and Johnstown was 14 miles. The dam was owned by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, an exclusive club that counted Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick– the steel titans of their time–as members.
The dam contained 20 million tons of water before it gave way. This is about the same amount of water that goes over Niagara Falls in 36 minutes. Floodlines as high as 89 feet above river level were found. The great wave was 35 to 40 feet high and hit Johnstown at 40 miles per hour.
The force of the flood swept several locomotives weighing 170,000 pounds as far as 4,800 feet away. Within the U.S. and from 18 foreign countries, $3,742,818.78 were collected for the Johnstown relief effort.
The American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton and organized in 1881, arrived in Johnstown on June 5, 1889. It was the first major peacetime disaster relief effort for the Red Cross, and Johnstown was Clara's first arrival to a peacetime catastrophe of epic proportions.
Johnstown has suffered additional significant floods in its history, including in 1936 and 1977. Subsequently, my mother and I were caught in the 1977 Johnstown flood, and were unable to get out after finishing a long session of my figure skating training. I will never forget that harrowing experience, which words cannot convey.
At 4:00 a.m. somehow, under the record-breaking flashes of lightning that were our only light, my mother and I made it to the bottom of Pergim Hill, the entrance into Nanty Glo, only to be met by a volunteer fireman telling us that a) Nanty Glo was flooded, and b) there was no way we could have made it out, because the dam had burst.
I never forgot the horrors my eyes had seen. It was from that moment on in 1977 that 1889 struck a chord in my mind and my heart. It would be the beginning of a lifelong journey and passion to have the story of Johnstown, 1889 be told through a movie.
In 1996, a documentary about this flood was made. It would capture the hearts of many who had never heard about what happened on May 31st, 1889. It also captivated their minds, because it was a disaster that did not need to happen and was preventable. It would strike a chord with all who watched. So much so that the documentary would go on to win an Academy Award.
The 1889 flood to this day is ranked as the number one worst and most catastrophic one in U.S. history. I have visited the graves of the unknown, but if the story of Johnstown, 1889 is ever told, the voices crying from beneath blank grave markers shall be no longer unknown, but rather known and given respect and eternal repose at last.
I believe that I have now found the right crew and team to make Johnstown, 1889 and finally tell the story of the forgotten souls, which is the story of my second hometown, where I lived from 2005 until 2022.
Anyone may go to Johnstown to see the 1996 Academy Award-winning documentary when visiting the Johnstown Flood Museum, located at 304 Washington Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 15901. Here are some links about the flood of 1889: https://youtu.be/Q62vlcFLLlM and https://youtu.be/Zj2v5Akm1Bg.
This last YouTube movie is so powerful.
Do you have any advice for our Heart Of Hollywood Magazine readers?
Always have class. Class is how you treat the people around you. Class is not defined by status or wealth. Rather, having class is how you treat other people. You are never too important to be kind, which is synonymous with having class.
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