Purdue University North Central student Leonard D. Sales may look familiar to some people.
Perhaps they’ve seen the Organizational Leadership and Supervision major on campus. Or they’ve seen the avid golfer on area courses or in tournaments. And he volunteers in the community too.
Or he may seem familiar because he’s been seen on television and had roles in feature films.
Sales’ career as an actor is gaining momentum. He was cast as an investor in the hit Fox TV show, “Empire.” He admits that while his role was small, he worked with some of the most talented actors in the world.
He appears in the movie “Belle,” a thriller based on the infamous Belle Gunness, directed by LaPorte native Stephen Ruminksi.
He recently wrapped up a supporting role in the feature film, “Dark Ground.” The film details the paranormal events experienced by a group of kids back in the early 1990s. In the film, Sales wore a Purdue North Central t-shirt.
“I’ve had a great last few years at PNC and whenever an opportunity comes around to show off my school pride, I’ll definitely jump on it. Plus, it’s a rad shirt,” he said, explaining his decision to make the shirt part of his movie wardrobe.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of cast and crew members.”
Plans call for the movie to be submitted it to Sundance Film festival, along with other festivals, in hopes of it getting picked up by a distributor and heading to theatres across the nation.
Sales said that as a child he and his family would watch movies together and he enjoyed acting out scenes as they occurred on screen.
“My father would get irritated that he couldn’t hear the movie while I was doing this,” he recalled with a laugh.
But watching the performance of Leonardo Di Caprio in “The Departed” really captured him.
“I was fascinated how could play a character so truthful and do it so many times in his career. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to act. I believe that getting to be someone other than you is an honor and a privilege and it should never be taken lightly.”
He supplemented his PNC classes in Organizational Leadership and Supervision with a number of Communication classes.
“It’s really helped me in my acting career,” he said. “Many teachers have inspired me in my life. But Dr. Scott Smithson, (chair of the PNC Department of Communication,) really inspired me to do well in my career and pushed me to do well in his class. I learned things in his interpersonal communication class that I couldn’t learn anywhere else. For that, I’m extremely grateful.”
An accomplished golfer, Sales had offers to play collegiate golf, so it was a natural fit for him to be a member of the golf team.
“All of my teammates were so cool. I had many good times with them,” he said. “I definitely miss all of them and hope they’re doing well.”
Sales is quick to thank his parents for their unfailing support.
“They taught me to stay grounded, work hard and be thankful for whatever you’re doing,” he said. “They are the reason I didn’t give up after a few acting jobs I didn’t get. Without support from the rocks in your life, you have nothing. I have some of the best friends in the world and I am thankful for them.”
The Sales family hosts an annual Thanksgiving dinner at the American Legion in La Porte. Sales explained, “Our community comes together and donates food to our event. It’s so amazing, last year we had 400 people attend, with more than 10 businesses donating food and many volunteers helping. It’s definitely a blessing.”
As he completes his PNC education, Sales encourages others to consider PNC. “There are so many activities and sports that anyone can partake in. If you’re contemplating, take a tour of campus. It will definitely surprise you. You will get a top-notch education.”