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Unlikely path: Actor began working in film industry as an overnight security guard

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Justin Lotz used to watch productions come into Albuquerque Studios and make a home base.

Construction of sets took place. Then the stages were full of background actors and crew.

The scene was magical, one that Lotz wanted to get into many years after being an extra on “Suspect Zero.”

At the time, Lotz was working at Albuquerque Studios as an overnight security officer. He did the job

Albuquerque native Justin Lotz has worked his way up through the ranks in the film industry from a security guard. (Courtesy of Justin Lotz)

for three years before making the leap in front of the camera.

“It started out with background work,” he says. “I dipped my foot into that, and I got hooked. It’s amazing to see yourself on TV and then understanding how much hard work it took to get a completed project.”

Lotz – also known as Justin Jackrabbit – began getting featured background roles. Again, he wanted more.

“I got bored doing background, and I knew there had to me more to it,” he says. “I began to think, ‘If they are putting me as featured, there must be something about the way I look.’ So I took a shot and auditioned for speaking roles.”

He’s worked on projects including “The Art of War,” “Sierra Sisters: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure,” OffSet Web Series” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”.

Lotz’s first taste of the film industry was in the early 2000s, when he was on set for the film “Suspect Zero” as it filmed in Estancia.

“It was definitely one of those odd things that started the seed,” he says. “While I was on set, I was like a sponge, taking everything in.”

The Albuquerque native was raised in the East Mountains on a cattle ranch.

Justin Lotz has been modeling for more than two years. (Courtesy of Denny Shoopman Photography)

He moved back to the city when he was 14, eventually graduating from Valley High School in 1999.

“That’s probably why I blend so well,” he says. “I know the city life. I know ranch life. I’m split between them. That helps me relate to all sorts of people.”

When Lotz isn’t on a movie set, he can often be found modeling.

In his second year of modeling, Lotz had a goal to shoot with 50 photographers.

“I ended up shooting with 96,” he says. “I surpassed my goal and beyond. That was a big achievement, because I got 96 different perspectives of me.”

Last year, with the pandemic altering the way photo shoots were done, he wanted to see how many times he would be published in a magazine.

“I got published 13 different times nationally and internationally,” he says. “I made it all the way to a French and German fashion magazine.”

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Lotz:

1 “I’ve been with my wife for 23 years. Married for 12. She’s my high school sweetheart.”

2 “I’m considered a sharpshooter. I’m an advanced marksman. I can still hit my target with no problem if I’m on horseback or in a car.”

3 “I played trumpet for 13 years, and for three of those years, I was the No. 1 improv soloist in New Mexico in middle school and high school”

4 “I took a year off and wrote music for three bands.”

5 “I’m definitely an avid outdoors man and survivalist.”

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