From Houston to Hollywood: Alum Stars in New Film “Dirty Girl” (Watch)

In 2008, Jeremy Dozier was a senior theater and government major at UT when he saw an online casting call for a movie called Dirty Girl. One of the lead roles—that of Clarke, a shy gay teen who befriends the high school trollop—seemed perfect for him. So Dozier, BA, BFA ’08, Life Member, filmed an audition video in his dorm room, taping his roommate’s bedsheets up on the wall and bringing in a lamp to make the place look more professional. He mailed the video off to Los Angeles, expecting to hear nothing back. But a few days later, he got a phone call that ignited his career.

The baby-faced 25-year-old stars alongside Atonement‘s Juno Temple, country music legend Tim McGraw, Oscar nominee William H. Macy (Pleasantville, Fargo), and Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard, Curb Your Enthusiasm). Dirty Girl opens Oct. 7 in Austin and 16 other cities.

How did you get this role?
The odds were really long, so it was totally surreal. They auditioned 300 people in L.A. before they opened it up to a nationwide casting call. After they liked my first video, they asked me to send another. I heard nothing from them for six months, then Abe [director Abe Sylvia] called and said they wanted me to fly out to L.A. to audition again.

I graduated on a Saturday, flew to L.A. on Sunday, and auditioned in person. We didn’t get started shooting until a year and a half later—indie films like this one can take a long time to get made. So it required a lot of patience and a lot of luck.

What was your time at UT like?
I loved it. After growing up in La Porte, a small town outside Houston, the world got so much bigger for me when I got to UT. People always think that my double major in government was a back-up degree, but it wasn’t—it was a way to balance out my creative side with my analytical side. One of my favorite classes was “The Politics of Hollywood,” which married those two interests.

How long have you been acting?
For as long as I can remember. I played James in “James and the Giant Peach” in elementary school, and never stopped after that.

A coming-of-age road-trip comedy with a gay best friend—Dirty Girl sounds like it could easily verge on the cliché. What makes it different?
The writing. It’s just really well-written and really honest, and layered, too. As soon as I read the script, I knew it had a lot of potential.

The movie is about two Southern kids, high school misfits, who escape to Los Angeles. How much of Clarke’s story parallels your own experience?
Well, I guess it’s true that we’re both Southern kids who’ve moved to Los Angeles. But I didn’t have it nearly as bad as Clarke—he grows up in an abusive household, and he’s bullied at school. That wasn’t my experience at all; my family has always been incredibly supportive, and I enjoyed high school. I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t bullied either. I was a nerd, an overachiever taking AP classes and signing up for all the clubs.

What’s next for you?
I have two films in post-production—Rock Paper Scissors is an indie comedy; think Dodgeball meets Superbad.  And Right Next Door is a thriller.

Do you have a dream role?
I would really love to play a villain.  Just a really evil, gritty, stripped-down bad guy, like Heath Ledger in Batman or Mo’Nique in Precious. That would be so fun.


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