Capitol Alert

Reagan and Schwarzenegger brought Hollywood to Sacramento. Now there’s Dante Acosta.

Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, recently appeared in a TV commercial for a diabetes medication.
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, recently appeared in a TV commercial for a diabetes medication.

It’s only natural that California, the home of Hollywood, has a long history of actors in state politics: Movie stars Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger both became governor. Contract lobbyist and former Capitol staffer Jerry Haleva has played Saddam Hussein in half a dozen films. Former lawmaker Sheila Kuehl was Zelda on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”

Danta Acosta, a freshman Republican assemblyman from Santa Clarita and a working actor, is keeping the tradition alive – “in my own little way.”

“You can’t compare my careers to theirs, obviously,” he said of the two former governors.

Acosta fell in love with acting as child, growing up on the sets where his father, the character actor Rodolfo Acosta, worked. He has a strong memory of a day spent on the early ’70s Richard Boone detective series “Hec Ramsey,” watching as they rolled a truck into a river again and again until they got the stunt right.

Though he did some plays in college, it would be decades before he fully pursued his silver screen dreams. After graduation, he instead went to work at a car dealership, and eventually became a financial adviser.

“Meeting my wife changed all that, because you can’t raise a family waiting tables and going out for auditions,” he said.

Yet as the old wisdom goes: You never truly get rid of the bug.

Around the turn of the millennium, Acosta decided to give acting another try. He started at “at the bottom,” he said, doing background work and training films for companies, then eventually booking commercials and guest spots on Nickelodeon. He recently appeared in a national advertisement for a diabetes medication, and last year played a TV reporter in the movie Dance Night Obsession.

Acosta began yet another career in politics six years ago, when his son was killed fighting in Afghanistan. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2012, Acosta was elected to the Santa Clarita City Council in 2014 and the Assembly last November.

His arrival in Sacramento doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve seen the last of his inner thespian.

“The first week I was here, I had three auditions that I couldn’t do,” he said. “Maybe if it’s on a Friday and I’m in the district, I can squeeze it in.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff