ROME, Ga. –
"You shouldn't limit yourself to what you can experience and learn," said Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Rodney Roldan, training and operations noncommissioned officer (NCO) for the 209th Public Affairs Detachment (Broadcast) in Rome, Ga. "If you're in the service and doing a regular job, then wearing both hats gets you to see different perspectives and functions under a different code of ethics."
These were Roldan's thoughts when he decided to pursue a career as an actor in the entertainment industry and having served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Reserve.
Born in Manhattan, New York, Roldan grew up with his family and spent most of his early childhood in the Big Apple.
"I grew up in the Upper Westside of Manhattan with my four brothers and sister," Roldan shared.
After turning 17-years-old, he decided to make a significant change to his life by enlisting in the U.S. Navy. This decision was primarily due to his desire to break away from what he knew to explore the world.
During the nine years of active-duty Roldan spent in the U.S. Navy, he traveled to different places worldwide as an electrician, such as Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Haiti. He got to experience firsthand the different situations and cultures that each one had to offer. These diverse experiences led him to use his time in the service to perform his duties and travel the world; during his travels, he took the opportunity to give back by helping those in need.
"I would conduct patrols while on a mission, but there were humanitarian projects that I was involved in," said Roldan. "We would go and rebuild orphanages, and if there's an earthquake or storm, we assisted in the cleanup and rebuilt damaged property."
Eventually, after nine years of conducting missions for the U.S. Navy, Roldan decided to pursue a career in a longtime passion of his, the performing arts. After being honorably discharged, he moved to California, where he began gaining credits as an actor in the entertainment industry.
"I got my screen actors card for my first Warner Brothers show, and then I was doing a lot of shows like "The Wire" and "Law and Order," said Roldan.
He eventually built a respectable list of shows and movies with minor supporting roles. However, things weren't always great for Roldan as an actor's career path can be challenging and competitive.
"One of the difficulties with acting is you have good years, and you have bad years. It's a career that can be inconsistent," said Roldan.
Once again, Roldan's life changed through conversation with service members he knew that led him to a path back into the military. This time a career in the U.S. Army Reserve.
"I got into a conversation with some friends of mine who were in the service. He shed light on how I had nine years in the service and why I haven't considered the reserves and continue my acting career," said Roldan.
He eventually decided to enlist into the U.S. Army Reserve as a public affairs broadcast specialist, nearly eight years after transitioning from the U.S. Navy.
Roldan learned that public affairs mostly resembled the field of performing arts that he was trying to pursue. He discovered that some people he worked with within the entertainment industry also happened to be in public affairs.
Today, Roldan is a successful NCO in the 209th PAD (Broadcast) in the U.S. Army Reserve and an award-winning documentary filmmaker and actor. He credits much of his success to his dedication to being in two different career fields that have complimented each other.
Moving forward, Roldan wants to keep pursuing both career fields up until his eventual retirement from both. Until then, he plans to keep pushing himself as a filmmaker, actor, and U.S. Army Reserve Soldier.
"There's a structure in film sets that's in the same manner as the structure in the military, and I love that," said Roldan. "I would not have been able to experience that if I wasn't in both, and I'm so glad I did join the U.S. Army Reserve."