FORT WORTH –  While many dream of being on the big screen, Bailey Roberts made that dream a reality. The Portland native will star alongside actor Luke Wilson in the feature film “12 Mighty Orphans.”

The film will tell the true story of Coach Rusty Russell, a World War I veteran with a troubled past who accepts a job as head football coach at a Texas orphanage and high school in southeast Fort Worth. It will follow the book “Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football,”written by Jim Dent, telling of the real life events.

Wilson will star as the head football coach and Roberts as Miller, one of the 12 orphans in the movie.

“This coach basically came and gave these kids something to fight for,” said Roberts. “It’s a great family film. It’s just their true story and their legacy, and what that team went on to do.”

Roberts first auditioned for the film in May, going  through four different callbacks in a row until finally hearing the good news before heading to class at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi.

“I was on my long-board riding to class and I got a phone call and I just answered it,” Roberts said. “There’s my agent, saying I got the part. I just like, jumped off my board and I was sort of jumping up and down.

“I was just overjoyed. Oh, you know, very humbled. So very, very fortunate to be given this opportunity. I’m very thankful for it.”

The young actor has been acting for seven year with the Harbor Playhouse.  

Roberts said he has been with his agency, The Blanco Agency, for five years now. 

“I’ve had tons of auditions, just left and right for commercials, web series, TV shows, movies, anything that my agency was able to get,” said Roberts. “I’d gotten callbacks before but nothing ever really stuck. And then this was the first thing to really stick.”

He said he has auditioned for 150 various roles and projects before landing his current role.

Currently, Roberts is in Fort Worth going through athletic training for the film. 

“This experience has been amazing,” Roberts said. “There’s 12 of us guys, you know, the 12 mighty orphans. Listen, I mean, all of these guys are so amazing. I’ve made some really great friends. And we’re having a blast, you know, staying up here.

“We work for a couple hours. We just get the whole day to ourselves, so it’s a lot of fun.”

After filming is completed, Roberts’ plans remain uncertain. 

“Oh, you never know how things work out,” Roberts said. “Sometimes you get your foot in the door and things just start happening for you, getting opportunities left and right. You work with somebody on this project that’s doing another project that they want you to work on.

“So, if I’m able to get more opportunities after this, I’ll just roll with that as long as I can. But if it goes back to being silent, then I just go back to college.”

Before withdrawing for the film Roberts was a theater major beginning at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“I had to withdraw, because I was going to be missing so much,” Roberts said.

For actors of the Coastal Bend, Roberts advises them to never give up and  improve their craft.

“Honestly, just I know, it’s cliche. I know, you hear it all the time but there’s a reason that it’s told over and over, Just don’t give up. You know, it took me seven years. Some people it takes them three or four auditions, it took me over 150. You know, I lost count after about 150 something.

“Coming from such a small town in South Texas, you’re not in the major hubs like New York, Atlanta, LA, you know? So just keep fighting.’

“If you find yourself like upset, you’re like, ‘I’m not booking anything, I’m not getting anything.’ Well, what are you doing to change that? I was constantly training, I was in classes, I was honing my craft, I was studying my craft, I was doing anything and everything to improve so that every time I walked into the audition room, I was doing better and better and better.

“But if I’m complaining that I’m not booking anything, and I’m upset, like I’m not getting my big break or anything, but I’m not training, I’m not getting any better. You’re just selling the same worn out product, you gotta polish your craft.

“My advice is just never give up. And always keep working and striving to get better because the way I always thinking about it, No matter how good or how big you get, there’s always someone better.”

Roberts said filming is set to start sometime next week. 

AJ Lopez is the assistant editor at the News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270 or at sanpatricio@mySouTex.com.