When Dalton “Dutch” Ell’s students log onto his classroom at East Union High School on Friday morning, they’re likely all going to be asking the same question – “was that you on television last night?”
And the answer will be yes.
On Thursday at 8 p.m., Ell – a long-term substitute currently teaching senior English at the Home of the Lancers – will finally get to view his performance on the USA Network’s physical agility gameshow “Cannonball” months after he filmed it on a lake in Southern California.
For Ell, an aspiring actor, the show was an opportunity to satisfy his craving for thrill-seeking while at the same time competing for a cash prize.
“I’m a thrill-seeker by nature, so the experience was awesome – I didn’t even blink an eye when they were asking about whether I was afraid of heights, or whether I was afraid of water,” Ell said. “I felt like the inner child in me came out – and it was just the coolest thing in the world.
“Every run that I was making as I just hoping that I got the chance to go back and do it all over again.”
And the runs were extreme in nature.
Whether he was latched onto a giant beach ball attached to a crane that flung him through the air or he rode an inflatable raft off a ramp that flung him stories into the air, Ell was putting his physical endurance and his fear to the test against other competitors that were vying for the $10,000 cash prize.
While he wouldn’t say whether he came out on top or not – that will have to wait until the episode airs – Ell said that he was grateful for the opportunity and hopes that an opportunity to do something similar crosses his path again.
“As an aspiring actor I had this recommended to me, so I submitted for it and they called me back right away,” said Ell – a native pf Pennsylvania that moved out to California to further his education. “The ratings have been pretty good so maybe if there’s a fan-favorite episode or something they’ll have me back.
“I would love to do this again – it was a great experience.”
One of Ell’s scenes is actually used in the show’s weekly introduction – with his arms extended up over his head in the water with a smile on his face – and he hopes that adding this to his list of credits will help further his ultimate goal of becoming a professional actor that works consistently.
While he loves teaching, performing in front of the camera and preparing for the role he is taking on will always be his true passion.
“It’s an opportunity to express yourself, and I was always attracted to the ability to dive into a character and the psyche of another person,” Ell said. “I love the aspect of performing and getting to play somebody else, and with acting those two things melted together perfectly.”
Cannonball airs on Thursday nights on USA – on channel 40 on Comcast, Channel 242 on DirecTV, and channel 105 on Dish Network – at 8 p.m.
Ell said he hasn’t talked to his students about it yet but may mention something to them on Thursday before they leave.
“Maybe on Thursday morning I’ll tell them that if they’re finished with their homework, they should turn on USA at 8 p.m.,” he said with a laugh. “Your teacher is going to be on there.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.