"We're all from Chesapeake, this small town in West Virginia, and we've all known each other since grade school," Dorsey said. "I don't think it's a mistake that we're all in the business we're in."
Dorsey was injured playing football his senior year at Riverside, and it kept him off both the field and the basketball court. His pal Kerns had been involved in theater for a number of years, and his mother, Rhonda Dunlap, told him he should give acting a try.
That was also the year that Ron Reedy, who now is principal at Sissonville High School, came to work at Riverside in the theater department. Reedy had spent a number of years in Hollywood, working with props and even acting a bit.
Dorsey auditioned for a play, "Night of January 16" by Ayn Rand, and won one of the two leads. Kerns won the other.
Kerns, Dorsey and Smith would later make short films and show them to their friends and family. He credits Kerns, Smith and Reedy with influencing him to try for an acting career.
"I remember going and having dinner with Mr. Reedy," Dorsey said. "He told me he thought I had what it takes to go and try to make it in the business. Coming from him, someone who's been there, it was huge."
He bounced around after high school, attending Western Carolina University in North Carolina for a couple of semesters and West Virginia University in Morgantown for a time before he and Kerns decided to start looking seriously at acting schools.
They both got into what's now known as the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts.
He learned a lot about acting during his two years at the school. He also learned what it takes to be an actor.
During the time he lived in New York, he worked for his father, Arnold Dorsey, in Connecticut doing electrical work. He said he worked late hours, sometimes six or seven days a week, but still would get up early to drive to the city for auditions.
"That's one thing they said in school, 'This is the hardest thing you could try to do in your life,' " Dorsey said. "Now I know why they said that. It's been a hell of a ride, and I'm sure it will continue to be."
He moved to Los Angeles, for the second time, in 2009. He worked as a waiter while trying to find work as an actor.
He has stayed with friends over the years and currently is living with Smith. He said it wasn't glamorous but he knew it wouldn't be easy.
Dorsey said he worked recently for a catering group and was working the post premier party for the movie "42: The Jackie Robinson Story." Not long after, he was attending the premier of his episode of "Southland."
"It's taken a long time," Dorsey said. "They say it takes most people 10 years to become an overnight success. It's been some years, but things are definitely on the up."
Catch Dorsey on "Southland" at 10 p.m. today on TNT. He will appear on "Parks and Recreation" at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.cr...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.