by | Kate O’Hare
In 2015, upstate New York native Alex Dee came to Los Angeles seeking, like many before and after him, work as an actor.
But not just any work. As a serious Catholic, there were things Dee would do, and things he wouldn’t. That made the already tough job of finding acting gigs even more challenging.
Recalls Dee, “I basically took every job I could get that lined up with not hitting my moral lines, and I had those laid down pretty firm.
“So, that was always a difficult process. And I quickly discovered, with being a Christian in the industry, that those moral lines, I was going to come up them against constantly.”
Dee formed a circle of friends and supported himself with bartending. But a back issue began to make that difficult.
He says, “I was at this moment of crisis of being like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? How am I going to pay my bills if I can’t bartend?'”
Along the way, Dee got interested in film editing, picked up the requisite skills and began working on wedding videos.
His editing skills eventually led him to an internship at Family Theater Productions, where he became the assistant editor on the feature documentary PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON, a biography of our founder, a Holy Cross priest.
That internship gig later became a full-time job.
“This project basically came to me through the grace of God,” he says, “and then I was able to transition into a creative lane using my skills that I learned, because I was not able to consistently work as an actor in the industry.
“That was definitely a God moment right there.”
Declared Venerable in 2016, Irish-born Father Peyton also came from upstate New York — Albany, to be exact — to Los Angeles, where he founded FTP in 1947 (where it is today, still in its original location on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood).
Father Peyton is known for his signature phrase, “The family that prays together stays together.” Along with his work in radio, film and TV, he traveled the world to promote praying the Rosary.
Although Father Peyton died in 1992, working on the film about his life had a profound effect on Dee.
“His main message was just so drilled into me every day,” says Dee. “Listening to him, I was just like, ‘You know what? I got to give it a try.’ I did, and [praying the Rosary] really changed my life. It’s not a coincidence that I proposed [to my girlfriend] six months after starting that project.
“So, he definitely worked on my heart, really showing me what’s true and what’s actually worth sacrificing for.”
Dee may not have achieved his 2015 dream of acting stardom in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean other dreams haven’t come true.
Now a husband and father of a toddler son, Dee relocated to New England, where continues to create films for FTP’s sister company, Family Rosary.
He hasn’t given up his own artistic ambitions, but all that now exists in the context of his responsibilities as a father.
He says, “I’d love to serve God the best way I can as a father, and if that means that He blesses me by also getting to tell amazing stories on film, then great. I’ll work hard to do that any way I can.
“I would really love to get some of my short films that have stayed on the shelf for too long, to get them done.
“I need to pay the bills as a dad, so I think really the biggest thing that I’m really just trusting in is just being the best father in can be, and then the art will follow after that.”
Although marriage and family might have taken him out of Los Angeles, Dee has discovered that creativity doesn’t know borders.
“I’ve met some amazing people out here in New England,” he says, “that are doing amazing work, that I would never know about if I was like, ‘Oh, no, everyone’s only in L.A.'”
And one last life lesson …
“I’ve learned the hard way that God’s timing is better than yours.”