From the surgery room to the battlefield, actor Roland Buck III is doing what he always dreamed of and continues to bring dimension to layered characters on screen.
The 29-year-old is best known for his recurring role on NBC’s "Chicago Med" as Dr. Noah Sexton, who attempts to succeed in the emergency room per his parent's wishes even if he sometimes gets distracted. A charismatic and determined character, Dr. Sexton continues to mature and make an impact in the lives of the Chicago community.
“I think it’s a great representation for people of color in Chicago,” Buck told NBC News. “You don’t have to be a “square” to be a doctor. You can be a ladies man. You can mess up. You don’t have to be perfect. But, you can also have growth.”
Raised in the suburbs outside of Dallas, Texas, Buck mostly kept his acting dreams to himself to not disappoint community members who pressured him to become a doctor, a lawyer, a firefighter or an engineer - like his father.
A retired electrical engineer, Buck’s father grew up in an era when his dream, as an African-American male, was to get an opportunity to go to school with everyone else and earn a degree that would lead to a good-paying job. While his son's dreams were also rooted in achieving success by way of discipline, the process by which he reached them looked different.
“He always wanted me to have a plan B," he said, adding that his dad would ask him, “What’s your plan B?”
Confident, Buck asserted, “Dad, there ain’t no plan B. My alphabet only starts at A and ends with A.”
A few years into his undergraduate experience at Texas Southern University, Buck decided to sign away his football scholarship and leave school to move to Los Angeles in the hopes of pursuing acting full time.
“I bet on myself,” he asserted. “If anybody feels that adamantly about something, then they need to do it - that’s the only way you’re going to be successful if you feel that compelled to do something.”
No one else can replicate my thumbprint, my experiences in my life, how I relate to the text. You just have to be confident in what you’re doing work wise and then bring something else to it.
With limited luck acting in conservatories and scavenging for auditions, he returned to school with a full-ride scholarship to the University of Southern California School of Acting. The power of the Trojan behind him, Buck was able to showcase his talent, book an agent and get into casting rooms.
“I would say going back to school was the best decision for me in my journey in my growth as an actor,” said the USC alum.
Less than eight years after moving cross-country, the People Magazine’s “One to Watch” honoree is scoring touchdowns in the entertainment industry.
In the National Geographic Channel series, “The Long Road Home,” a deep-dive into an ambush known as “Black Sunday,” Buck plays SPC Rafael Martin, a former gang member who flees the life of street wars to serve his country fighting for his life on foreign soil. “I know some guys like Rafael Martin,” he admitted. “He didn’t really have a choice.”
In awe of the incredible sacrifices of not only the soldiers but also their loved ones, Buck believes “It’s a story that everyone needs to know.”
“Some actors don’t get to tell content with purpose so I was really humbled and grateful that I get to be part of it," he said.
Nowadays, Buck is tackling a new challenge alongside in a star-studded romantic comedy, “The Week Of”, which will stream on Netflix in 2018. In a comedy directed by Robert Smigel, Buck joins an ensemble of comedic heavy-hitters, including Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
If anybody feels that adamantly about something, then they need to do it - that’s the only way you’re going to be successful if you feel that compelled to do something.
“I just wanted to do something I loved for work,” gushed Buck. “I never thought I’d be able to work with people who influenced me.”
As a kid who made crazy faces and summoned goofy voices for fun around the house, Buck credits Sandler for making it cool to be funny. He was selected for the film by Sandler himself and believes his success lies in his commitment to authentic storytelling and the elements of his own journey he brings to his roles.
“No one else can replicate my thumbprint, my experiences in my life, how I relate to the text,” he said. “You just have to be confident in what you’re doing work wise and then bring something else to it.”
“I just try to be as genuine as possible,” he said.
With a new year underway, he has no intention of slowing down. He hopes to play the lead in a film, produce one of his pieces he's written, earn his aviation license, backpack through Europe, and “find a nice young woman to like me back."
While his father may not have initially understood his professional aspirations, Buck said his father can now see the manifestation of his dreams.
“He fought for me to dream. His dream was different, but really, like, deep down it was so many other things.”