LONG BEACH, California — A Miami County native took a risk 10 years ago to move out to California, where he now is pursuing his dream of acting while working as a federal law enforcement officer, and he hopes to inspire others to take a chance on their dreams as well.
“I am a sworn federal law enforcement officer, with full arrest authority, for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, out in Long Beach, California, which is in Los Angles County,” said Jack Mahrt, formerly of Piqua and Troy.
Mahrt, who graduated from Lehman Catholic High School, has been a federal law enforcement officer since 2007. He graduated as class president of his academy class at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, Georgia.
Mahrt is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy and was deployed to the Persian Gulf, in Operation Southern Watch Desert Strike in 1996. Mahrt also briefly worked for the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
“Prior to becoming a federal law enforcement officer, I was employed as a corrections officer for the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in Troy, Ohio, and I was also a TSA agent at the Dayton International Airport,” Mahrt said.
As a federal law enforcement officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mahrt described his job as “preventing drugs, dangerous goods, and dangerous people from entering the U.S. illegally.” They also patrol the coast and work with the Coast Guard. Mahrt also trains four times a year for his job. “It’s a multi-faceted job,” he said.
When he’s not working full-time as a federal law enforcement officer, Mahrt is pursuing his other passion. “I try to do the acting on the side,” he said.
Mahrt graduated from the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica, California, in 2015. “This was an intensive acting program,” Mahrt said.
Mahrt has tried tying these two passions together, using his experience in federal law enforcement to help set him apart from other actors for roles similar to his current job experience as well as to past experience in the Navy.
“It’s been a very neat experience, a very enthralling experience, a very eye-opening experience,” Mahrt said.
He described some of the recent roles he has had as “glorified background” roles. He portrayed an LAPD officer on the TV show “Training Day” in 2017, and played law enforcement agents on the TV series “Web Atlas” in 2015, among other appearances. He has also played the killer on an episode of “Unusual Suspects” on TruTV and a hospital security guard named Henry on an episode of “The Mentalist.” More of his acting credits can be found on IMDB.com.
After the uniqueness of getting to pursue acting wears off, Mahrt said, “You still have to keep that drive.” He is still going up against numerous other actors pursuing their dreams, of which he said, “It’s a cutthroat experience.”
“Furthermore, I battle dyslexia, which is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading and comprehending,” Mahrt said.
He said that his dyslexia has required “massive amounts” of extra work when he was studying to become a federal law enforcement officer and also when he memorized scripts for performances while at the Ruskin School of Acting.
“I have always been embarrassed and ashamed of my dyslexia, but I now realize that it is something that is part of me, which is no different than my eye color or my fingerprints,” Mahrt said.
Mahrt is also building a new life in southern California. While much of his family still resides in Miami County and the Dayton area, Mahrt said, “I got married to my beautiful wife, Kristine, last July, almost a year ago. We spend most of our weekends hiking the Hollywood Hills in Griffith Park.”
Mahrt hopes that his experience can help inspire others to pursue their dreams.
“I took a chance,” Mahrt said. “I want the young people to not limit themselves and maybe take a chance … They don’t have to limit themselves and stay in their comfort zones.”
Mahrt took a risk and moved over 2,000 miles away from his comfort zone in Miami County, and he encouraged others that, while pursuing his dream of acting is still work and living in California is not always glamorous, he nevertheless is making headway on his dreams.
“They can learn from my experience,” Mahrt said, adding that just “by taking an opportunity, or making an opportunity, and placing one foot in front of the other … leads to more opportunities and better dreams, which are able to be achieved.”
Even though his passion of acting has required him to sacrifice “the peace and quiet of home life in Miami County” for the crowded, high-cost of living in southern California, for Mahrt it’s worth it for the pursuit of his dreams.
“The world will invite you to become no one, but you can decline the invitation,” Mahrt said.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org