Denise McClain-Dukes was born in Prichard, Alabama. Due to unfortunate family circumstances, she was placed in foster care with the State of Alabama where she spent a great portion of her infancy and toddler years.
Denise was adopted at the age of three by Henry and Maxine McClain in Montgomery, Alabama. Her childhood years were filled with love, joy and preparation for her future career as she studied: Classical Ballet, Jazz, Modern, African and Interpretive dance along with acting, modeling, and vocal training.
Denise graduated from George Washington Carver where she was featured and head majorette. She then attended and graduated from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech Communications and Theatre. During her tenure at TSU, Denisewas featured majorette, produced, directed and starred in two television shows on Viacom Cable Network, "Aerobic Heartbeat" and "Solid Blue".
After graduating Denise moved to Los Angeles, California where she instantly claimed a spot as a featured dancer on the popular television music show "Soul Train". For the next year, Denise studied with some of the top trainers in stage vocal performance, fashion modeling, acting and dance.
After hearing of her mothers' terminal illness, Denise moved back to Montgomery, Alabama. Once again, she captured the spotlight when she won the title of the first "Miss Black Alabama USA". During her reign, Denise traveled throughout the state of Alabama as a spokesperson for adoption of children with special needs, a project that was lead by the State of Alabama's Department of Family and Children Services.
After losing her mother in the battle of cancer, Denise's father (who is now deceased as well) urged her to get back into her arts. He wanted her to go to New York, but she already had offers on the table from several agencies in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta proved to be a good choice, not only did she succeed with several appearance roles in the Drama television series "In the Heat of the Night", countless television and voice-over commercials, but she also established a successful career in fashion modeling, dance, and theatre.
Denise has worked as a professional educator with Dekalb County Schools, Selma City Schools, Dallas County Schools, Perry County Schools and Montgomery Public Schools. She was employed in the areas of English, Reading, Dance and Drama Instruction in which she primarily worked with secondary grade level students. However, Denise has worked independently over the last 30 years with community and church organizations consisting of students ranging from ages five to adults in the areas of dance, drama, modeling and personal development.
Denise served as the Coordinator of Performing Arts for the City of Selma in 2005. In 2006, she established Elyon Worldwide, Inc. In 2009, she expanded her work into the schools and launched a program known as International School of Performing Arts (ISOPA), a multi-cultural mobile performing arts program for our youth, in addition to creating a scholarship foundation for graduating seniors who desire to pursue a college degree in the Performing Arts.
Denise is a collaborating teaching artist with the Alabama State Council on the Arts where she also serves on the grant review committee for dance; A member of the Alliance for Arts Education; A Trained Master Teaching Artist with the AIEA DANA Foundation-funded Black Belt Teaching Artist Program and was selected as one of Alabama’s top performing/teaching artist by the Southern Arts Federation headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Denise's work has allowed her to meet and work with some phenomenal people from all facets of the artist spectrum which is what inspired her to establish Elyon Worldwide, Inc.
She believes that if our children were given the opportunity to be exposed and educated in the arts through multiple disciplinaries, it might ignite the creative genious that resides in each of them propelling our children to excel in their academics, social and personal development skills.
As Denise so eloquently states, “I am Nothing, without Something that God gives to me.”