Actor Michael Cudlitz, star of hit TV series like "The Walking Dead", "Band of Brothers" and more, opened up to Fox Nation host John Rich about his pursuit of the American dream and the talk with his father that shaped his life.
"I grew up in a poor household. My folks [had] two, three jobs at times each. We were on food stamps at multiple times growing up. I was on school assistance for lunch," Cudlitz told Rich on an episode of Fox Nation's "The Pursuit!" released on May 18.
But despite those challenges, Cudlitz became one of the most recognized actors in the world.
"I was able to follow what I wanted to do and follow what was in my heart and what I truly believed I could do," he said, attributing that opportunity to the blessings of the constitutional right to pursue happiness. "I was able to live the life I'm living and it continues."
In "The Pursuit!" Rich interviews people, from all walks of life, whom he believes exemplify the most important ideals of the country.
Cudlitz was born in Queens, New York, and moved to New Jersey with his family when he was 5 years old.
Acting was always a passion of his, but at one point in his early life, the dream of a career as a professional actor seemed out of reach.
"Especially growing up in Jersey, you know, it was a blue-collar [community]," he told Rich. "It was like 'Get a job kid... what you want to be an actor? Nobody makes a living doing that.'"
After his parents divorced, Cudlitz moved to California with his father. He began to learn the craft of furniture-making alongside his father and he decided to go to school for engineering.
His father knew better.
"My dad walked in one day and I was doing some proofs," remembered Cudlitz, "And he's like 'What are you doing?'"
Cudlitz recalled telling his father that he was working toward an engineering degree so that he had a skill to fall back on if his acting ambitions never materialized.
"He's like, 'Well, you know you love woodworking. You love working in the shop with me. You have a fallback... Go follow your dream."
Cudlitz quit school the next day and eventually enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts.
"That school shaped everything about my life today. I met my wife there," he told Rich. "I found my career there. My love of acting was cemented. I met some of my closest friends, the godfather of my kids."
"And it goes back to your dad," observed Rich. "Having a parent who understands his kid very well and wants what's best you for and wants you to be happy."
"If a different conversation happened that night, we wouldn't be sitting here today," said Cudlitz.