Entertaining the masses

FD native Schminke finds joy in world of acting

-Submitted photo
Mike Schminke, a 2001 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, sits on the set of the Amazon episodic “Utopia,” which stars Rainn Wilson and John Cusack.

CHICAGO — Mike Schminke’s acting career was nearly derailed before it could ever get on track.

“I moved to Los Angeles right after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa and one of my first jobs was background acting, being an ‘extra,'” said Schminke, a 2001 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate. “I was on the show ‘Samantha Who?’ starring Christina Applegate. I was in a very quick scene with Christina and was not supposed to speak. But, I’d also heard — incorrectly — that if you speak and they keep your dialogue, you might get your (Screen Actor’s Guild) card.

“I spoke. They cut. I almost got fired. I learned that lesson very early on.”

Since that experience, Schminke has found himself on the right side of several gigs, including the Amazon episodic, “Utopia,” which stars Rainn Wilson of “The Office” and John Cusack. Nine episodes of the series were produced by Gillian Flynn, who is known for writing “Gone Girl.”

Schminke plays the leader of an angry mob on the series. He was called in to read for four different roles within the mob, with the decision being made to “combine two characters into one for my role.”

-Submitted photo
Mike Schminke, a Fort Dodge native and FDSH graduate, has landed several acting gigs including a role in the Amazon episodic, “Utopia,” which stars Rainn Wilson and John Cusack.

“From audition to wrap, it was such a fun experience,” Schminke said. “I learned a lot getting to work with actors like John Cusack and Rainn Wilson. Not to mention it was one of the kindest crews I’ve ever been on set with.”

Along with his most recent work, Schminke also had a role on “Chicago P.D.,” which airs on NBC with a seventh series set to start this September, and was part of a public service announcement for The Allstate Foundation to raise awareness for domestic violence and financial abuse against women.

The move from Los Angeles to Chicago has helped “open a lot of doors” for his career.

“Joe Clarke is a director and a great friend of mine,” Schminke said. “He put me in three of his films and because of that, I gained a lot of insight into what it takes to act in a feature.

“Since moving to Chicago, I performed at Second City, signed with my first agency and started booking commercial work as well as TV work.”

For Schminke, though, the itch to perform all started in the halls of Fort Dodge Senior High with classmate A.J. Platt.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh,” he said. “But it wasn’t until high school when A.J. asked if I wanted to audition to be in a play. I agreed, and from then on, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer for the rest of my life.”