LEE Shorten led a relatively normal childhood in Tamworth, he played sport and worked part time jobs, but now he is rubbing shoulders with some of the most well-known and talented actors in the world.
The kid from Tamworth, whose adoptive parents worked jobs at Woolworths, Shopping World and Coca-Cola while he attended Tamworth Public School then Oxley High School, has had a wild journey since leaving town.
Shorten moved to Newcastle to study arts and law, and eventually picked up a job with the Australian Taxation Office in Canberra, but feeling unfulfilled at age 29, decided to take a gamble by quitting his job and moving to Vancouver.
It was a risky change for someone who never planned to be an actor, but he said following his heart felt like an important thing to do.
"After a few years of working as and hating being a lawyer I was trying to figure out my life and I remembered how much I loved film and TV, and thought that was one of the few things that made me really happy," he said.
"So I moved to Canada, took some acting classes.
"I sucked terribly at first, but I kept working at it and eventually got lucky and booked my first gig six months after I finished acting school."
The gig was on ABC, co-staring on a show called The Whispers with Milo Ventimiglia. After getting a taste of acting, Shorten decided it was time to truly follow his passion - and that meant moving to Los Angeles.
The move paid off almost immediately, landing roles on some major shows despite arriving in LA just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
He said the highlight of his career so far has been working on The Man in the High Castle, a critically acclaimed TV show on Amazon Prime Video that provided Shorten with a chance to meet some childhood heroes.
"I was a huge fan of Bladerunner as a kid, so getting to work on an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel being produced by Ridley Scott was a dream come true," he said.
"And then on that set I got to meet Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa who played Shang Tsung in the original Mortal Kombat which was another childhood favourite.
He also worked on a show called The Terror that explored the history of Japanese internment during WWII, which is a part of history he thinks is often overlooked in American history. It also allowed him to work with Star Trek actor George Takei.
The best is yet to come from Shorten though, with the former Tamworthian confirming his involvement in the upcoming movie Swan Song.
Set to come out late this year or early 2022, the film features two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, eight-time nominee Glenn Close and one-time nominee and James Bond actress Naomi Harris.
Learning off of such esteemed actors will no doubt be a bonus for Shorten, who revealed they were more than happy to have a chat and provide some advice.
"That was one of the most amazing experiences of my career," he said.
"Getting to work with such high level actors is a rare thing and not only that they were all so wonderful, just really kind, gracious and talented actors and human beings.
"I can not say enough good things about them."
With plenty of time on his side, Shorten will be hoping to grow his brand and one day become a household name himself.
While stardom and a luscious LA lifestyle could await him, he said it would be ideal to one day return to Australia, and is at least hoping to be able to visit again this year.
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