From "My Name is Earl" to independent film, "Winter's Bone,"
"Usually people run from me thanks to the roles I play."
Dale Dickey breaks Hollywood's cookie cutter mold.
"I'm a character actress and I love them. They're usually gritty, tough."
Dale developed a love of theater and performance at an early age. She grew up acting with the Clarence Brown Theater Company.
"They would call and say, 'We need a kid in the ensemble. Can Dale come and play?' Of course, I was like, 'Mom let me go.'"
And, when she wasn't in front of an audience, Dale was playing on a much bigger stage.
"We were in the Smokies every weekend just about."
By the time Dale entered the University of Tennessee as a Theater major, she had dozens of plays to her credit.
"I had great training here."
After college, Dale and 3 fellow UT students moved to the Big Apple. She was determined to be a theater actress.
"I went to open calls. I worked as a waitress in tons of restaurants. I did so many off, off, off, off, off Broadway plays."
Dale had a hard time getting representation and grew to resent the Ivy League students who seemed to have an easier time, that is until a professor set her straight.
"He said, 'I taught at Juliard. I've seen those kids that come out of there. Everyone of you that came out of this University of Tenn, I don't care if it was a liberal arts college, are equally as talented if not more. So, get over it and walk into the room proudly.'"
Finally, in '93, Dale landed a role in the television show "Christy" which was shot back home in East Tennessee.
"Christy was certainly a break of some sort. I'd done a couple of student films, but that gave me some really great on camera experience."
After 11 years in New York City, Dale had enough.
"Being such an outdoors person, I felt so trapped in New York."
She headed West to Los Angeles and secured some guest starring roles. Dale was playing a heroin addict when co-star David Keith introduced her to Steven Spielberg.
"My hair was stringy and david was like, 'Lets go meet Mr. Spielberg.' And, I'm like what? David i'm in handcuffs. And, he drags me over in handcuffs and introduces me to Mr. Spielberg."
From C.S.I. to E.R., Dale scored guest starring roles on dozens of TV shows. Then came "My Name is Earl."
"Patty the daytime hooker... what a blast!"
She'll never forget the episode when Betty White played her mother.
"I thought I was going to faint. So, that was a thrill."
As for films, Dale has worked side by side many Hollywood A listers... from Sean Penn and Jack Nicholson in "The Pledge" to Clint Eastwood and Agenlina Jolie in "Changeling."
"So, it's like you see beautiful Angelina and me. I was just the screaming patient."
The last four years have been quite a ride.
In 2008, Dale was cast in a movie called "Winter's Bone."
"Winter's Bone came out of no where and who'd a thought it would have so much a life."
The drama slash thriller received 4 oscar nominations and Dale earned an Independent Spirit Award for best supporting actress.
In 2009, she returned home playing her favorite role yet, Blanche, in the Clarence Brown Theater production of "Street Car Named Desire."
"It was such a great experience doing "Street Car" here. I have trouble talking about it."
And 2012, well, it's off to a great start. Dale is in several movies and has a recurring role in the popular HBO vampire series, "True Blood."
Dale isn't taking one bit of it for granted.
"I still got my waitress shoes in the closet. But I'm very, very grateful that I've been able to make my living as an actress."
"This is a magical place."
Born in Knoxville,
"It always feels like home when I come back."
HomeGrown in Tennessee.
In addition to True Blood and guest starring roles, Dale has small parts in three features this year including a film with the Oscar nominated Octavia Spencer from the "Help."