You may not know when … you may not know where … but you’ve seen this man. Trust us.
Charlotte actor Pat Dortch, has starred in Fox’s 24: Legacy, CBS’s reboot of MacGyver and his own pilot he wrote and starred in called Limbo (which has won several film festival awards). Limbo was also shot in and around Charlotte; read on to see how you can watch it.
I first met Pat several years back when our kids attended the same elementary school. Back then, I knew him as the “actor dad” from a Bojangles commercial. I didn’t really get to know Pat until two years ago when my daughter, also an actor, started taking classes from him at The Actor’s Lab, an acting studio established in Los Angeles by J.D. Lewis that has branched out to Charlotte and other cities. Actors work on their craft in front of the camera but also learn how to make it in the business). She and I both found him supportive, energetic and incredibly nice.
Diving Into Acting
Pat’s lived in Charlotte for 29 years, so we can probably consider him a native. When he first moved here, he owned a furniture business with his wife and brother. After the housing crash, his business never really recovered, and he closed up shop in 2011.
In 2012, Pat started taking acting classes (he started acting in high school) at the Actor’s Lab to get himself out of the funk he found himself in.
“Honestly, I made the decision to dive in completely because I loved it from the start,” he said. “I figure, anything you do has the possibility of failure, so you might as well do something you love.”
In 2013, Pat began teaching at the Actor’s Lab. He teaches teens and adults the ins and outs of acting in front of the camera. And, he covers the business side of acting, as well.
Pat refers to his students as “his tribe.”
He said, “We support one another and keep each other accountable for moving forward. I want to teach them by showing that it is possible. Since I get to work with insanely talented young people, I see the potential for some projects that will give them a voice, as well.”
We asked Pat for his thoughts on a slew of topics related to acting and Charlotte’s creative scene.
What are some of your favorite past projects?
Oh, wow. That’s tough. I have been incredibly fortunate and have worked on some great shows with some really incredible actors and directors I admire. I have also been impressed with how cool everyone has been on set. Jimmy Smits was great to work with on 24: Legacy. Diane Lane, Robin Wright and Campbell Scott were super cool on House of Cards.
I had a great experience on MacGyver and I had an incredible opportunity to work on my own project, Limbo, with an amazing cast and crew right here in Charlotte.
At the end of last year, I got to work with Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins in a scene opposite Joel Edgerton. That was really one of my best days so far. Every project is a real blessing and I am incredibly grateful.
What are you working on now? Why are you excited about it?
I just finished a pilot with local actor Karen Abercrombie and Director Joanne Hock. It’s in post-production. I have a short film I am shooting when things loosen up a bit from the pandemic. I wrote it and will direct it, but I am not acting in it. I think it will be absolutely beautiful.
I am also pinned for a couple of larger projects, but I can’t talk about them yet. I feel I am growing by leaps and bounds in this industry, so every time I have the opportunity to tell a story in this medium, I get excited.
What about Charlotte’s creativity do you think should be celebrated?
From an acting perspective, we have a close-knit community of incredibly diverse, driven artists who support one another and celebrate each other’s wins. I think that is unique to our area.
What has you excited about the future of your own work and the future of creativity in Charlotte?
As we continue to create good content and produce actors who can deliver on network shows and feature films, we will attract more projects to the area. Charlotte and the surrounding area is an incredible place to create content because of its diversity of people and range of locations. Hopefully, we will see more incentives to help us grow and to attract larger productions.
Tell me about Limbo and what prompted you to write it and how you came about the storyline. Do you plan on writing anything else?
Limbo started as a backstory to a character I was working on, and then it took on a life of its own. The storyline has some basis in history and draws from different ideas of religion, paganism, Heaven and Hell. I am hoping to use the struggle of good versus evil to bring in current topics. We shot the pilot episode, and it’s currently doing extremely well in festivals and is being looked at by some people in LA for distribution and production. I have already written a few episodes, the story arc for the first season, a show “Bible” — everything we need for the pitch. Fingers crossed it gets picked up.
I also have another series idea I’m working on and a feature film I’ve started writing. You know, if any of your readers want to check out Limbo, they can shoot me a message on Instagram and I will get them a link to check out the pilot. It’s really cool seeing Charlotte shot and portrayed the way it is. The cinematographer, Joe Stauffer of Shutter Blade out of Wilmington, did an amazing job.
Why do you do what you do ? What is your hope for people who see your work?
The challenge of truthfully becoming someone else in order to tell a story excites me. Creating compelling characters and stories that people can be moved by, that makes them suspend reality and experience emotion, that’s where the rush is. I got a residual check from MacGyver for a penny once. I didn’t cash it. I kept it as a reminder of why I do what I do.
You may have noticed that I have quite a bit of silver in my beard. I got started really late in this business, but that also means that I have had a lot of life experience. Being able to create, whether I am writing, teaching, directing or acting, may give someone else the nudge they need to say, “If he can do it, then so can I,” and I am all about that.
A Few More Frames of Pat Dortch
Hear Pat Speak on the “You May Have Seen” Podcast
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