CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chesapeake native Ryan Dorsey will be the first person to tell you that breaking into acting is not easy or glamorous but that perseverance could pay off in the long run.
Dorsey, who now lives in Los Angeles, made his television debut last week on "Southland," a gritty cop drama set in Los Angeles. The show, which stars Regina King and Michael Cudlitz, originally aired on NBC in 2009 but moved to TNT after its first season.
The show is now in its fifth season, and Dorsey, a Riverside High School graduate, appeared in last week's episode. He'll also appear in tonight's season finale.
His character, a young drug addict who helps a partner kidnap two LAPD officers, was heavily involved in the episode's turning point last week.
His character delivered the coup de grace to one of the officers, a recurring character. He was careful not to give away what happens in tonight's episode, other than to say his character returns.
"It's a lot more fun to be the bad guy than the good guy sometimes," Dorsey said in a telephone interview. "My dad said, 'You did real good, boy; I just wished you'd played the good guy.' "
The past few months have been a whirlwind for Dorsey.
He also is set to appear on an upcoming episode of NBC's "Parks and Recreation." He will play a short part as an intern named Taylor Mitch.
Dorsey is an optimist at heart but also is realistic. His family has been supportive of his choices and his decision to pursue a career in acting.
"Eventually, if you're good, stuff will happen," he said. "Some stuff is finally starting to happen and I'm super grateful."
He said he auditioned for the role on "Southland" the day before he was set to begin filming his part for the NBC comedy in February. The day after he finished with "Parks and Recreation," his manager told him he got the part on "Southland." Filming for that show began in March.
Dorsey said casting directors have memories like elephants and he had previously auditioned for John Levey, a casting director for "Southland."
"He called me straight in for the producers, the director and the writer," Dorsey recalled. "They called a bunch of us in . . . They put me on hold, which means it's between me and somebody else. So I did 'Parks and Recreation,' shot that, and then my manager told me I got it.
"It was a pretty amazing week. The last two months of my life have definitely been the most exciting since I started to act."
It wasn't a lifelong dream.
Always a cut-up, he often spent time with friends Dustin Kerns and Chad Smith, who also are from Chesapeake.
Kerns, also an actor, now lives in New York and has appeared in independent films and on episodes of "Guiding Light,""All My Children" and "Kings."
Smith, a writer, lives in Los Angeles and currently has screenplays on "The Black List," which bills itself as a place for moviemakers to find great scripts.