You might not know it, but if you've watched "Two and a Half Men," "CSI," "Army Wives," "Star-Crossed," "ER," "24," "Drop Dead Diva," "Bones" or "Scandal," you've likely seen an actress on your TV screen who is currently based in Columbia.
Deena Dill, 49, grew up in the small town of Dayton, Tenn., moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career and landed a variety of roles on network TV shows. She's never been directly illuminated by the spotlight, so to speak, but she has sparkled in many recurring roles.
She's currently a recurring lead character on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) series "Ambitions," which was filmed in Atlanta and produced by Will Packer ("Stomp the Yard," "Ride Along," "Night School"). The show airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday nights.
She also has a role in upcoming OWN series, "Queen Sugar," which just wrapped filming for its season finale episode.
"I’m not famous, but sometimes I’m almost famous," Dill says with a laugh.
She notes one particular time she was recognized by a kid in an airport as "Gibby's mom" from Nickelodeon show "iCarly."
Dill says she never thought she was going to be an actress. She thought of pursuing orthopedic surgery and then switched her focus to business finance. Only after taking a few acting classes after graduation did she discover her passion for the art form.
She started out with roles as broken-hearted love interests in country music videos, next to star singers like Billy Rae Cyrus and Trace Adkins. Then she got worked her way into recurring series and movie roles. She's recently added "executive producer, creator and writer" to her resume.
Her game show "Oh Sit!" had two seasons, in 2012 and 2013, on the CW, and she already has more in the works.
After establishing and expanding her West Coast career, Dill moved from Hollywood back home to Tennessee to take care of her father, who was ill.
During her time back in the Southeast, she was set up on a blind date with an ER doctor based in Columbia. They started dating, and after they tied the knot, she relocated to the South Carolina capital permanently. She remained obligated to travel to L.A. and Atlanta to continue her acting work. She was not about to abandon her Hollywood life.
"A few years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to have an acting career and live in Columbia," Dill says.
But now, with video auditions and other technological advances available, she's been able to make it work. She's hoping to get more work within the state, she says.
In South Carolina, Dill has played roles in "Army Wives" and, more recently, in Danny McBride's "Vice Principals."
"South Carolina is starting to develop more of a TV industry," she says. "But we need to increase tax incentives, which now can run out toward the end of the year."
Currently, South Carolina provides $15 million in incentives annually, according to South Carolina Film Commission project manager Dan Rogers. That's in comparison to Georgia's estimated $700 million.
She says that, for the local industry to grow, there also needs to be an educational program in place to help develop a larger South Carolina film crew that would be able to staff multiple productions at one time.
While Atlanta is the main Southeastern hub for Hollywood, Dill says that South Carolina has a similar landscape that could work for the big screen — minus the infrastructure.
"Georgia is no different than South Carolina," Dill says. "They both have urban and suburban areas, buildings that can be located in 'Anywhere USA' and a diverse landscape."
She adds with a laugh, "It's also a little easier to shoot in the South, because people aren't jaded like they are in L.A."