Terry Dale Parks caught the acting bug early, performing little sketch comedy shows with his older brother for the neighborhood kids in Oklahoma. In high school and college, he joined competitive drama teams where he honed his audition skills and how to craft a story.
"We got to travel all over the place and it was the best training that I've ever had for auditioning, reading scripts, getting stories and becoming a storyteller for a profession," Parks told Headlines & Global News in an exclusive interview.
After graduating college, he headed to Los Angeles to act professionally, but it wasn't until he moved back to the Sooner State that he got his big break.
"I move to L.A., spun my wheels and tried and tried and tried," Parks said. "Actually by going back to Oklahoma, I started my career because I met a lady who was a casting director who cast me in a film two weeks later with Thomas Haden Church."
Working outside the L.A. market eventually carried him back to Hollywood where he has enjoyed a successful career on television. He's guest starred on a number of hit shows such as "Justified," "Homeland," "Nashville" and "NCIS: New Orleans," plus a recurring role on this summer's ABC drama "The Astronaut Wives Club."
Parks also has found his way to the big screen, most notably in "Terminator Genisys" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and "The Maze Runner" sequel "The Scorch Trials." The opportunity to work alongside Schwarzenegger was not lost on the actor, who was thrilled to be a part of the action star's return to the "Terminator" franchise.
"Those images I had in my head of getting out of his car for a premiere with a cigar in his mouth back in the '90s when Arnold Schwarzenegger ruled Hollywood. He's a different man today in a different world and I think all for the better," Parks said.
Schwarzenegger still commands any room he walks into but old age has caught up to the former Mr. Universe in small ways.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger of 2015 is very different to Arnold Schwarzenegger of 1989, so he gets the script out and pulls out his spec glasses," Parks said, laughing. "He's got a lot of depth as a person. I really enjoyed being able to spend time around him."
Parks saw "The Maze Runner" in theaters and thought it was a "good sci-fi flick" that appealed to more than the teenage girls who would "swoon over the lead actor." His young co-stars later told him that they appreciated "the fact that adults liked it" just as much as the audience around their own ages.
"When the adults like it too, I think that's some real validation for them," he said.
Within a day of seeing the first film, Parks received a call from agent saying producers wanted him to read for the sequel. A week later he was on set and running through sand dunes in New Mexico.
"It was so quick by the time I saw the first movie, read for a role and ended up on set. All of a sudden we're on set and the next morning we're running through sand dunes," Parks said. "The actors have been in training and I had not been training. I was about to have a heart attack. I'm carrying this kid through sand dunes all night long but it was fun."
"Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" is currently in theaters. "Terminator Genisys" comes out on Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 10.