ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Local actor Patrick Roper started his career at a Seattle theater, but for years he has called the Peach state home.

He even found success in the show “Florida Girls” which is now streaming on Netflix. Now Patrick is gearing up for the release of a pre-Civil War dram "Emperor."

With his downbeat monotone voice, "Florida Girls" character Ken is less than motivational.

"He's just sort of a dry humorless guy who just shows up periodically in the weirdest places," says Patrick of his character. However, unlike his character, Patrick has a truly inspiring story. As his dream of a budding actor career was coming to fruition, his health was in critical condition.

"Early in 2016 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, so I wasn't sure whether I was going to be working or not. I told my agent just keep auditioning me and we'll see what happens," recalls Patrick.

The Savannah-based actor didn't let his diagnosis keep him from his dreams of being on the big screen. The same week of his surgery Patrick auditioned for "Emperor," which was filming in his hometown.

 "I had the call back so I still had staples and a drain, and I struck myself and went to the call back. I did it," says Patrick.

Luckily Patrick's sacrifice paid off, and he landed the part.

"This is my change and I need to this, I did it and it took a lot of me to do that," explains the actor.

"Emperor" is based on the life story of Shields Green, an escaped slave who will do anything to free his family. Patrick plays a slave overseer. 

The pandemic delayed the movie's theater release from early March to August, and it could not be timelier.

"So, the slave [Shield Green], also known as Emperor, he escaped from his captives, and travels North to New York where he ends up meeting Frederick Douglass," says Patrick.

From there, the events following helped to spark the Civil War.

That same fight and dedication exemplified in the film is similar to the message Patrick gives today's youth.

"As long as you're healthy enough to do it, persevere and go," he says.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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