“You gotta grab for the food quickly or you don’t get any,” says Clare Carey of her big family. Carey, who plays Kelly, Craig T. Nelson’s loving daughter on ABC’s “Coach,” is one of eight children.
“My sister and I got left behind on a trip once,” she recalls. “We were in two cars and they each thought we were in the other one. It wasn’t until they were at the next destination and ordering dinner did they realize we weren’t there.”
Growing up in a large family taught Carey, 26, how to deal with chaos.
“It really helps being on a set,” she says, laughing. “I’ve adapted to that real well.”
But Carey almost didn’t make it to the set of “Coach.”
“I was tired and whining at the first audition,” she says. “I was saying, ‘I can’t do this’ and the casting director was so nice and she said, ‘Yes, you can,’ and in the next audition I had all this energy.”
But it wasn’t Carey’s energy that propelled her into the series role, she says. “They thought I was the most believable Midwesterner!”
The “believable Midwesterner” was born in Zimbabwe, but grew up in Santa Barbara, from where fellow actors Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and Kathleen Wilhoite also hail.
Carey developed an early interest in acting from an inspiring Montessori teacher.
“He was very inspiring,” she says. “The first thing I ever performed was singing ‘You’re No Good,’ and I was 5!”
She followed her intuition and instead of college she chose to live in Los Angeles. She was able to support herself with guest television spots, which she did until landing the role of Kelly.
Last year, she co-starred with Shannen Doherty and William Devane in the television movie “Obsessed.”
An avid poet, Carey wrote and performed in a poetry show, “Woven Voices,” at Cafe Largo. She also helped establish the Society for the Creation of Arts and Music, a group dedicated to helping homeless children achieve artistic goals through the dramatic arts.
On Saturday, she’ll be the lead in “Romeo and Juliet” at the Ivy Substation in Culver City. The show will run through mid-October and will accommodate her “Coach” shooting schedule. All proceeds will be divided among six children’s charities.
Next up for the sweet-faced Carey? “I’d like to play a vamp,” she says. “I’d like to play a witch. I’d like to play a heroine in a World War II period piece. I’d also like to do a musical and get back into that.”
“Coach” airs at Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.