LOS ANGELES — For Piqua native Adam Peltier, following his dreams included a stint in a top military academy, an unexpected change of plans, a cross-country move and a role on the big screen.
Peltier, son of Mike and Kelly, grew up with the dream of following in the footsteps of many family members before him in the pursuit of military service. Peltier’s father, a retired assistant chief of the Piqua Fire Department, served in the United States Air Force. Younger Peltier’s oldest sister, aunt and uncle also served. Before them, Peltier’s grandfather served in the Navy.
“In a way, I had felt drawn to the military because it was all I knew,” Peltier said. “But, I also wanted to try something different, in a sense, which is what interested me in service academy.”
Peltier had set his sights on the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Prior to graduating from Lehman in 2010, Peltier was given a nomination to West Point by then-Congressman John Boehner.
Rather than go straight to West Point after graduation, Peltier attended a year of prep school at Marion Military Institute in Alabama. It was here that Peltier first began to re-think his interest in a military career.
“There was a theater department at Marion and I remember the school was putting on a production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’” he said. “I had never acted before, but I saw the show and was amazed that they were doing theater at a military school. I was like, ‘I would probably be a really bad actor if I started now,’ but then I thought, ‘Why not try?’”
Peltier decided to audition for the school’s next play, called “Charley’s Aunt.” He performed a monologue — after first learning what a monologue was — and got a part in the show.
“I’m sure I was terrible, but I loved it so much and had the best time,” he said. “Afterwards, when I was done and walking off, my chemistry teacher was there — Commander Stevens — and he said, ‘Hey, you should do this thing.’ That always stuck with me.”
Though Peltier continued on to West Point the following year, acting had lit a fire in him that would not be easily extinguished.
“I wanted to give West Point a try because it’s such an honor and I come from a family of service men and women,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘I’ll try it out and if this acting thing sticks with me then I’ll know I should probably leave.’ And it did.”
After a tumultuous year in the academy — “I was kind of a trouble-maker,” Peltier said — he decided to turn his attention to getting into a school for acting and applied to The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.
After being granted a short leave from West Point in order to audition at AMDA, Peltier said he performed a monologue in his military uniform.
“I was feeling like I still don’t know what theater is, but I know I like it,” he said. “After I finished, I was sure I didn’t get in, but it turned out that I was actually accepted.”
Peltier soon told his parents about his decision, who were supportive, if not a bit confused at first.
“It was kind of weird because this had come out of nowhere for them, but after the initial shock wore off, they were like, ‘If that’s what you’re feeling then you need to go for that,’” Peltier said.
In 2012, Peltier withdrew from West Point and relocated to Los Angeles to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree at AMDA’s L.A. campus, which he completed in 2016.
In 2017, Peltier married his wife, Racheli, whom he met in L.A. while working a side job as security at a bar. It was also in 2017 that filming began for the movie, “Dauntless: The Battle of Midway,” which served as Peltier’s big screen debut. The movie debuted Sept. 6 in limited release.
Peltier portrays the character “Bennett” in the film, which is based on a true story and focuses on two men fighting for survival after their plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean during the Battle of Midway in June of 1942.
“I’ve done a lot of theater that my parents were able to see, but I think they got a kick out of seeing their kid on the big screen,” Peltier said. “The movie was a good opportunity for me at this point in my career.”
Currently, Peltier is in his first month of graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts in L.A.
“I’ve been doing well, but I think I can do so much better, so I was looking for a place where I could unlock that potential,” he said. “Hopefully (CalArts) helps me grow as an artist so that I’m able to have a career where acting is the only thing that I do. I have no dreams of being famous or being really rich or anything, but just to live this life of an artist and be able to do so comfortably.”
When looking forward, Peltier is also appreciative of where he’s come.
“(Piqua) is an amazing place to grow up and it’s the best of what small town America is about,” he said. “If somebody wants to go after any artistic endeavors, it doesn’t matter where you grow up or who your family is; you can do it, and you’ve got to do it.”
Peltier added that his successes thus far have not come without his fair share of struggles and failures.
“I’ve been told ‘no’ and received so many rejections, but that’s what you’re going to get as an actor out here before hearing ‘yes,’” he said. “You’ll have many failures, but it’s what you do when you experience failure that matters; you need to take that experience and use it to better yourself.”
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