By Alexandra SheaJanuary 21, 2020
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Many look to the New Year as a new beginning and a chance to set and achieve new goals. For one Fort Jackson Soldier, 2020 already started with a bang and may pan out to be a successful future career in the movie industry.
"Never in a million years would I ever think I would be on TV," said Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Boozer, Company B, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "I'm going to be in a movie and that is going to be forever. No matter what happens to me 100 years from now, that will be me in that movie. It's life changing."
Boozer has been an active duty Soldier for more than 16 years and has carried many titles including drill sergeant leader at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, infantryman and support staff for Fort Jackson's Victory Tower. Today, he can add actor to his resume of titles.
Last year Boozer received a phone call from a close friend he worked with at Fort Carson, Colorado. The friend asked if he would be interested in becoming a military advisor for an upcoming Russo Brother's movie named "Cherry."
The movie is an adaptation of Nico Walker's 2018 book about a boy from Cleveland who enlists in the Army and deploys to Iraq where he witnessed killings of insurgents, local community members and his friends and fellow Soldiers. Suffering from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, he returns to his home where he becomes addicted to heroin and robs local banks to support his and girlfriend Emily's daily habit.
Boozer got in contact with the movie's production team and agreed to advise the writer and directors how drill sergeants speak and act.
He was then asked to teach roughly 300 movie extras to emulate Soldiers.
"Basically I had to teach the first three weeks of Basic Combat Training in about eight hours," Boozer said. "They said, 'Can you do it?' and I said ... absolutely."
He broke the extras up into groups where he taught them to march in formation; how to perform drill and ceremony movements with a weapon; and how to sing cadence. Unknown to Boozer at the time, a director observed him training the extras and would later offer him an opportunity to perform the role of Drill Sergeant Rivera in the movie.
"My very first scene, I was in the zone," Boozer said. "To me, it was just be a drill sergeant and that's what I did and what they saw. It creeped me out though when I saw the playback."
Now complete, Boozer returned to his duties and the movie is in post-production with a pending release date of October.
Since his return, Boozer began working on new projects including commercial work for fast food outlets, participating in local films and auditioning for additional roles. Boozer recently audition for an upcoming movie that will be filmed in Charlotte later this year. He is also collaborating with a fellow writer to create an action story for the Russo Brother's consideration for production.
"I can Google my name now and my picture comes up," he said. "It feels like ... wow."
While Boozer's film debut is just taking off, he still remains a Soldier. His film work is conducted while on personal leave. He continues to perform his duties supporting trainees at Victory Tower. He also plans to conduct a permanent change of duty station to Fort Campbell, Kentucky in June where he may begin deployments again.
Boozer said he will continue to travel the road to the silver screen and follow his new found dream unless deployments become a reality.
"It's a dream come true," he said. "It's not every day stuff like this happens. I'm pretty sure this is what winning the lottery feels like."