Beyond The Lab Coat: The Actor - SBH Health System
Image of Dr. Uyanik, MD, as an actor

The lab coat or scrubs they wear do not define who they are.

Many SBH physicians have special passions, talents, and accomplishments that exist outside the hospital. As you’ll read here, these extracurricular interests are as wide ranging and diverse as the hospital itself.

The ActorImage of Dr. Uyanik

An orofacial pain specialist, Dr. Uyanik splits his professional time seeing patients at SBH Health System and in his Tribeca private practice, and teaching residents as an associate clinical professor at NYU College of Dentistry.

Cem Uyanik, meanwhile, is a working actor, performing in off-Broadway theater, movies and on TV, and regularly attending auditions.

His most recent performance was in the musical comedy Truffles: Jazz, Murder and Dinner Theater, at The Cutting Room in Manhattan. He’s appeared in movies (most recently the film SubHysteria, about 16 people trapped for days in a New York City subway car) and on television (as a court clerk in The Good Wife).

“When I was in fourth grade I auditioned and got the part of one of the royal children in The King and I with a local theater company,” says Dr. Uyanik. “After that I never stopped acting. I did school plays and performed in theater as an undergraduate at NYU (in plays ranging from Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and Moliere’s Tartuffe, to the musical Spring Awakening). I told my parents that I wanted to pursue being an actor and they said, ‘Fine, but as a backup get a degree.’ My father was a dentist so I figured I would go to dental school.”

While in dental school he says he fell in love with treating patients with orofacial pain. “I didn’t expect to find something I felt so passionately about in school,” he says. After graduating, he spent two years in Los Angeles as a resident at the UCLA School of Dentistry. “The perfect place,” he laments, “only I was too busy to do any acting.”

Today, he normally devotes two days a week to acting, either performing or auditioning. The schedule can be grueling, but the pain specialist/actor has no plans to relinquish either passion.

“I aspire to keep doing what I love, as both a dentist and an actor,” says Dr. Uyanik. “An actor having a second job is hardly unusual. But, often it’s as a waiter. I’m fortunate [because of my job] that I can be choosy in accepting roles. I’m not stressed out if I don’t get a part. I’ll still be able to pay my rent, and I thank my parents for that.”

He also keeps his two lives very separate. Virtually none of his patients knows about his acting, and very few actors he performs with have any idea about his “day job.”

“I was in a car with several actors recently when I got a call from my answering service,” he says. “I answered quietly, ‘Yes, this is Dr. Uyanik,’ and the heads of those in the front seat whipped around.’ They were pretty surprised to say the least.”


Steve Clark