There is duality in everything it seems. We work. We play. We live in town. We were raised in the country. We have dreams for the future but must live in the present. The trick is to find the balance.
This is not a concept that is lost on Eric Starkey. The family man and Edmond professional is also an actor and he makes it a point to embrace his multiple roles in earnest. “For me, success is being able to enjoy my family and enjoy shooting a movie every now and then,” he says.
For Starkey, it is being able to have it all. Raised in eastern Oklahoma, but now living in north Oklahoma City and working in Edmond, Starkey has realized that his home state is the perfect example of this. “You really get the best of both worlds,” he says. “You can go to a Thunder game. You can go to Cafe 501 in Edmond. That’s what I love about it here — you can have it all, you can have kind of urban culture, then take an hour drive and you’re on a farm riding horses, so it’s hard to beat.”
Valuing both is perhaps the philosophy that also led to Starkey’s career decision to join the team at Edmond-based Saratoga Roofing, where he works as a controller, overseeing and handling accounting.
“One of the things that really kind of sold me on Saratoga was they wanted to run their business in a way that was a little bit different than most businesses,” he explains that the company has spiritual roots. “While they’re concerned with profit, that’s not the bottom line. They wanted to conduct business in a way that was helpful to the people that worked for them and helpful to the community.”
He connected with this from the start. “I related with the approach to the business because I think we tend to compartmentalize our home life, spiritual life, and I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to go,” he explains. “You have to combine your spiritual life and your work life and your play life. They’re all part of one piece and to be true to all of them you have to include them all in the way that you go about each one.”
The task of integrating them all for Starkey meant taking his love of acting from the plays he did in college at the University of Oklahoma and getting an agent in Oklahoma City, while continuing to pursue his career in business.
Starkey explains that he got into the construction field by helping his father build his mother’s house on their farm back home. Working with his hands is a love that has stayed with him ever since. Starkey and his wife’s latest hobby is restoring a 100-year-old grocery store in Oklahoma City and turning it into a guesthouse and creative space called the Pink Cloud.
These endeavors can often make for a busy schedule but Starkey says that his family is behind his efforts. “They’re very supportive about it. My daughter is 6 and she thinks it’s pretty cool that daddy is on TV sometimes,” he says with a laugh.
The same goes for his wife, Kari. “She’s really been great because I work 10 to 11 hours a day at my regular job and then sometimes when I get a couple of days off, I do a movie and I’m gone again, so it’s definitely not an easy life but she’s always supported me and has been as excited about the projects,” he says.
And these projects are becoming more frequent with the film industry growing here in Oklahoma. “Oklahoma is a really great environment for the film industry,” Starkey says. “We’ve got great weather. We’ve got great locations, and one of the things that a lot of the film crews and directors I’ve talked to have said about Oklahoma is that the people here are so gracious.” He cites that film crews are welcomed to film in places where they would be charged or have difficulties in places like Los Angeles.
“They come to Oklahoma and everybody’s just so happy to see them, and not just because they’re in movies,” he says. “One thing that I hear over and over again is that the people here are just genuinely friendly, even if you’re not doing a movie or they don’t know you’re doing a movie, you’re just kind of struck with the character of the people you meet here.”
Starkey had a role in the film “Where the Red Fern Grows,” a 2003 remake of the classic version starring Dave Matthews, as well as roles in, “Time Expired,” “Pearl” and “The Downwinders.” He currently has a role in the film “Bringing up Bobby,” starring Milla Jovovich and directed by Famke Janssen, all well-known names in Hollywood.
Starkey explains that if people from Hollywood are learning something about Oklahomans, he’s also learning something about people in the film industry. “It’s nice to be able to work with professionals at that level and the nice thing that I got to realize is they’re just regular folks just like the rest of us,” he says. “They’re just trying to do a good job with what they’ve been given.”