CALDWELL - Barrett Carnahan began his acting career at a young age at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg and the Smoot Theatre.
His mentors included John Lee, Brian Turrill and Felice Jorgeson.
Now, at the age of 21, Carnahan has appeared in nationally released films and television shows as an actor based in Los Angeles. He hopes to inspire young people to pursue their dreams in the entertainment industry.
A still shot of Barrett Carnahan from the Lifetime TV show “Drop Dead Diva.”
Carnahan recently returned to his hometown of Caldwell from a premiere of the movie "A Christmas Tree Miracle," in Frostburg, Md.
In the movie, Carnahan plays 18-year-old Nick George whose father loses his job at Christmas, sending the once-wealthy family into economic despair.
The owner of a Christmas tree farm helps the George family in this moving, touching, family-oriented film, said Carnahan.
"A Christmas Tree Miracle" was shot in Wheeling and has been distributed by Green Apple Entertainment. DVDs of the film are available at Walmart.com and Bestbuy.com.
Also released on DVD in 2013 was the movie "The Pledge" in which Carnahan plays the lead role of Tory Hedderman, a West Virginia teenager who is caught vandalizing a statue of a World War I veteran. Hedderman is ordered to perform community service at a veterans home, where he learns valuable lessons.
Shot in Wheeling, "The Pledge" was originally titled "Doughboy" and is described as an uplifting family drama.
Carnahan, a 2011 graduate of Caldwell High School, moved to Los Angeles in March 2012 after the filming of "A Christmas Tree Miracle."
Finding it difficult to land acting roles in Los Angeles, because of the large number of aspiring actors, Carnahan moved to Tennessee for a summer on the advice of his agent, who is based in Atlanta.
This led to Carnahan landing a guest starring role in the Lifetime TV show "Drop Dead Diva" in an episode that aired Nov. 3.
Carnahan plays an Amish man's son who has left the Amish community and was shunned, but helps on a court case involving contaminated water and an oil company.
"It is a very moving episode," Carnahan said. "It is the biggest experience I have had. Fast-paced and professionally done." The episode was shot in Atlanta.
"Drop Dead Diva" showed Carnahan all the work that goes into producing a television show, he said. "It was an honor to appear in it. I was happy with my performance."
Carnahan will be appearing in the legal drama series "Reckless" on CBS in 2014. He will be playing "Darren," one of the two football players accused of killing their coach. The series is set in Charleston, S.C.
Working in the Southeast allowed Carnahan to "build up my resume" in a not-so-crowded job market, he said. "A lot of good shows are shot there," he said. "In L.A., everybody is acting."
Carnahan will be appearing in a Christian film, "A Matter of Faith," set for release on Sept. 26. It is about a Christian girl, played by actress Jordan Trovillion, who has her faith tested when she goes to college. Carnahan plays college student Tyler Mathis in the independent film.
"A Matter of Faith" was shot in Grand Rapids, Mich., in July.
Carnahan is auditioning for acting roles and is returning to Los Angeles after the holidays. He is the son of Cindy Carnahan of Caldwell and Bruce Carnahan of Chattanooga, Tenn.
His goal remains to work as an actor in TV and film - a dream he has held since he was 9 years old.
Carnahan is thankful for the guidance and assistance he received in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Galen Smith of Parkersburg and Carnahan performed in "The Sound of Music" in Cambridge, Ohio. Smith introduced Carnahan to the theater in Parkersburg, Carnahan said.
At the age of 13, Carnahan got the role he wanted playing Peter Pan in the Actors Guild of Parkersburg's Guild Builders production. "I flew (across the stage). It was amazing," he said.
After "Peter Pan" Carnahan was cast by director John Lee in the Smoot Theatre performance of "The King and I." He would follow this with several performances at the Smoot through the Camp Broadway program.
"I fell in love with the Smoot," Carnahan said.
Carnahan mentioned Lee of Parkersburg and Turrill of Belpre as being huge inspirations as they taught him acting and life lessons.
"I was inspired, encouraged to go after my dreams," he said.
"I am really proud of where I grew up," Carnahan said. The experience he received at the theaters in Parkersburg and the mentors were very important, he said.
Carnahan said he will do whatever he can to keep theater alive in the Parkersburg area.
He hopes to accomplish this by being an inspiration to kids.
"If I accomplish anything (in my career) I want to show if a kid from Caldwell can accomplish his dreams, others can do whatever they want to do," he said.
Carnahan is grateful for the morals he learned as a child growing up in a small town, which, he said, have given him a set of values while working in Tinseltown and other big cities.
"It has been a huge blessing," Carnahan said.