When it came to choosing a career, Justin Miles didn’t dream of becoming a cop like his grandfather, who served more than 30 years with the Macon Police Department, or his uncle, who was a Bibb County deputy.
He wanted to be an actor.
At age 23, Miles has landed a role in “The Gates,” a prime-time television series set in a gated community that involves the supernatural — and vampires. The series is set to premiere this month
He’s playing the part of a deputy.
From growing up around law enforcement, Miles said he’s had a little experience to prepare him for playing the role. “Just growing up, I’d been fascinated by it,” he said.
As a child, he’d often asked questions about the criminal justice process. His father, Keith Miles, who grew up in Macon, is now a prosecutor in Gwinnett County.
Miles’ aunt, Pam Shepherd, said her father, Earl Miles, retired as a Macon police officer. Her husband, Scotty Shepherd, is a retired Bibb County sheriff’s major.
“My daddy would have been thrilled because he’s playing a cop,” Shepherd said. “I think this would just kind of tickle him.”
Justin Miles, who grew up in Lawrenceville, participated in church camp productions as a toddler and began acting in school plays in the third grade.
His mother, Becky Miles, said her son started taking professional acting classes at age 13 after he started getting in trouble at school for talking in class.
“I was looking for a lot of attention,” Justin Miles said, explaining that he was simply walking around and trying to be friendly and funny.
A friend suggested that the Miles family channel the teenager’s energy into something he was passionate about.
For Justin Miles, that was acting.
Miles continued acting in school productions through his 2005 graduation from high school in Dacula — no, not Dracula — and his college years at Georgia College & State University.
While performing in college plays, he also hosted a show on the school’s radio station and hosted trivia contests at Buffington’s, a restaurant and bar in downtown Milledgeville.
After trivia, he participated in improvisational jam sessions, playing the guitar and ukulele until closing time.
Life changed for Miles just before midterm exams during his senior year.
He was discovered by a casting director for the movie “The Crazies” while performing in Atlanta in 2009.
Miles was cast as Scotty McGregor, the love interest of a main character.
When filming necessitated that Miles be in Iowa during midterms, he withdrew from college.
The film also shot scenes in Perry.
“It’s an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get,” he said. “I had to go with my gut.”
After filming was complete, Miles moved back in with his parents and soon got a part in the independent film “Hero” that has not yet been released.
Miles later auditioned for and got the role in “The Gates.” Filming started in March in Shreveport, La.
While Miles has appeared on the big screen, he’s still able to come home and visit with friends without too much public attention, his mother said.
“He’s the same old Justin. He’s a wonderful young man,” she said.
Miles said he’s humbled each day as episodes are shot on the set.
“It’s all very surreal,” he said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.