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The wall behind Russ Croley's desk has several rows of framed certificates, including one that allows him to practice before the highest court in the land.
"I never have and probably never will go before the Supreme Court,"Croley said recently.
But at his office in Central City, Croley, who has been practicing law for more than 35 years, also has memorabilia from his budding career in acting.
The two professions have some commonality. There is a certain amount of improvisation in the courtroom, Croley said.
The 62-year-old attorney began getting acting jobs in 2008. He's always been interested in the entertainment business and after graduating from University of Kentucky Law School in 1976, he toyed with the idea of pursuing acting, but he had a family to support.
While practicing law, Croley helped establish Muhlenberg Community Theatre. Having decades of success in business, he now works part-time, which affords him the freedom for auditions and shooting on location.
Croley divides his time between Central City and Lexington, where his wife works in their son's dental practice. "There are a lot of independent films made around Lexington, and since I go back and forth, I started inquiring about auditions," Croley said.
One audition led to another, and Croley has appeared in 14 films. He was an extra in "League of Their Own,"which was filmed around Evansville in 1992. He was classified as "father with young son."
He was also an extra in "Secretariat."
"You can see me if you know where to look," said Croley, who recently joined the Screen ActorsGuild. So far, his favorite move role was playing the lead in "Bunker of Blood" as Gen. Titus. His television credits include Investigation Discovery network's "Unusual Suspects" episode titled, "Killings in Kentucky" in 2012.
"I played an attorney, "Croley said.
When he was complimented for his courtroom improvisation, he fessed up and told them he actually was an attorney.
In 2011, he was in an episode of NBC's "Parks and Recreation.
For two years, he's been working with eight other actors making films for the Veterans Administration as well as making live presentations to VA doctors. Empathy is not taught in medical school, Croley said, and the dramatizations teach doctors how to relate to patients and families when they give them shattering news, such as a diagnosis of a fatal disease or an accidental death of a patient.
Croley recently made a Papa John's Pizza commercial that he said is being shown during March Madness. He's also done a spot for Don Moore auto sales.
Actors have to be tough. "I've gone to 150 auditions and have gotten one out of 10,"Croley said. "Every audition is a learning experience; if you don't get the job, you forget it and go on."
Reflecting on his latest career, Croley said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been. So many guys retire and do nothing. This gives me energy."
Suzi Bartholomy, 691-7293, email@example.com