BY CHERYL SLAVIN
When Paul J. Alessi was the captain of the North Rockland High ice hockey team, the last thing on his mind was a career in acting. All he wanted to be was a hockey player. His first jobs ever, at the now defunct Lo Tor Ice Skating Rink, were as a guard, a pro-shop worker, and anything else he could do to stay close to the ice.
That all changed a few years later when an agent offered him a modeling job after discovering Paul at a construction site. Paul soon found regular local work as a model, but continued for a time in construction as well, including a stint with the Highway Department. The big change came when he went to California to visit his sister’s friend, another Rocklander who had moved out a few years previously. Paul fell in love with the California weather; his sister went home and he stayed. The friend, Colleen, got him an introduction to modeling work and let him sleep on her floor for six months while he pursued his career.
Modeling led to a part in the TLC video, “Waterfalls,” which led to other acting parts. Soon Paul was taking acting classes and within a few years had built up an extensive acting portfolio. His credits include numerous TV show appearances, including a recurring appearance on the reality show, The Amazing Race. He has also received critical acclaim for his roles in the independent films “Morphin(e)” and “Guy Named Murphy.”
Paul never lost his love of ice hockey, however, and that led to another Hollywood connection. While in California Paul ended up running not one but two hockey teams, organizing their games. A friend of a friend through hockey introduced Paul to Alex Ranarivelo, an aspiring director. Together they produced a short film that was well received and subsequently formed “Partners in Crime Films,” an independent film production company. Today the company has several projects in various stages of production, and has recently released its first full length film, “Alpha Males Experiment,” a romantic comedy as seen from the male point of view.
“These days I pay my bills through producing, for myself and others, while I still try to get in as much acting work as possible,” Paul says. “I became successful in producing because of my New York gift for gab and networking. I just seem to know how to put people together to get things done.” Even so, Paul tries to only take acting work in projects he can truly feel inspired by. He has more than once turned down an acting offer for a project that didn’t meet his standards.
Whenever he can, Paul also tries to include his Rockland friends in his life. He has had several of them act in the films he’s produced, and he also included some Rockland artists in the original soundtrack for “Alpha Males Experiment.” His brother still lives in Tomkins Cove and Paul comes east regularly to visit with his family and socialize with hometown friends. He’ll still look for pick-up hockey games while he’s here. He likes the laid back California lifestyle but remains a New Yorker at heart. Paul fondly remembers what it was like to grow up in North Rockland where everyone knew each other. He only recently found out that he was inducted into the North Rockland High School hall of fame as captain of the hockey team that went to the Nationals.
Paul is looking forward to the next stage of his career, including working on a new project with director Sean Patrick Flannery. His goal, he says, is ultimately “to be in a position where I can work with family and friends on projects I can be passionate about, that will both enlighten and entertain.” With the ambition, drive and creativity he has already demonstrated, there is no doubt that he will continue on his trajectory of success.
“Alpha Males Experiment” is available through Amazon.com, iTunes, BestBuy.com, Barnes and Noble.com and other online media outlets.