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Meet Major Dodson of The Walking Dead

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Major Dodson as Sam - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Major as Sam Anderson in The Walking Dead Season 5, along with Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier.- Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Twelve-year-old Houstonian is an actor on the rise

By Judy Latta

Major Dodson is living a young performer’s dream, following in a long line of gifted child actors from Texas who hit it big in Hollywood. At the age of 12, the adorable Major co-stars in AMC’s international smash hit series The Walking Dead as Sam Anderson, a young survivor of a zombie apocalypse. Prior to that show, Major had a recurring role as Corey Bachman in the critically acclaimed FX series, American Horror Story, and he starred on the big screen in 2014 alongside Nicholas Cage and Lea Thompson in the major motion picture Left Behind.


The exuberant, charming and funny Major was born in Dallas, and later relocated to the beautiful Oakridge North area of Houston. At the age of 6 he watched the animated Disney movie Bolt about a dog who believes he is an action hero, but is actually unknowingly performing scenes in a television series. The film highlights the inner workings of a TV production set, and Major’s fateful exposure to this movie sparked in him an intense desire to perform. He says he had always had an interest in acting and directing, and as a small child would create scenes bringing to life his Lego figures and toy cars. After seeing Bolt, however, he became absolutely determined to give stage performance an earnest try.

“I badgered my mom about acting,” he says, “until she finally agreed to let me audition.” He had never performed before, and his first audition landed him the role of Tiny Tim in a community theater production of A Christmas Carol. He then moved on to a series of commercials and minor roles on television and in indie film. His first network television appearance was as young Danny Matheson on NBC’s Revolution in 2013, followed by, among other roles, his part on American Horror Story.



Upon wrapping up American Horror Story, Major sent in an audition tape for the upcoming role of Sam Anderson on The Walking Dead, and was thrilled when he got called to Atlanta for a live follow-up. Prior to his audition he had never even seen the show, so upon learning of the open role, he and his family sat down to watch the first episode. They were hooked. “We immediately became huge fans,” Major exclaims. At that time he was also auditioning for a part in a movie, but once he found out about The Walking Dead, he knew that he really wanted to play Sam Anderson. “When I got the call that I got the part, I screamed as loud as I could, and I have a very good scream from my time on American Horror Story,” he says with a chuckle.

His days on the production set are hectic and demanding, starting with early morning hair, makeup and costume sessions at the studio, followed by filming and school work whenever he can fit it in. It is an arduous schedule, but Major says he has gotten used to it, and it is all worth it to be part of such an exceptional television program and such a terrific cast and crew. He gets excited when he talks about his co-stars and describes them as his extended family. He says, “They are awesome! We do everything together. We eat together, hang out together and just talk to each other all the time. I have learned so much from them.”



His role keeps him very busy, but in between takes on the set, Major, a self-described car fanatic, takes pleasure in researching and learning everything he can about automobiles. He also likes to play with his Rubik’s Cube and he collects vintage cameras. When not filming in Atlanta, he, along with his parents Hayden and Jennifer and his 9-year-old brother Cooper — also a budding young actor — return to Houston where he enjoys just being a regular kid. He loves to play video games with Cooper, and has been given the job by his parents of teaching Cooper how to do household chores such as doing the dishes and taking out the trash. He describes Cooper as “a fun little guy.” Major also enjoys trips to the gun range for target competitions with his dad. “My dad usually wins,” Major concedes, “but we always have fun.” The family’s down time, however, is getting tighter these days between Major’s work and Cooper’s new acting career. Cooper can be seen in the movie Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, his first role in a major production.



Major has a very big heart and wants to put his celebrity to work to help ease the suffering of those who live on the streets. He appreciates how immensely fortunate he has been in his life and strives to spread a little good fortune to others through the charity he and his family launched, Smiles for the Homeless. This organization loads bags with essential items such as toiletries and clothes, and distributes them to homeless people in Dallas and Houston. His goal is to take this organization national and eventually international. He says proudly, “It is absolutely amazing to make a difference in the lives of others.”



When he grows up, Major plans to stay in the acting field, and hopes to expand his career into directing and writing. He already has an idea for a screenplay that involves a boy and his dad living in an abandoned storage facility trying to survive the apocalypse. This project would combine two of his obsessions, antiques and the A&E reality television show Storage Wars. He also wants to expand his philanthropic efforts and has an interest in science and inventing, and hopes to dabble in those fields as an adult as well.

Major encourages other kids who are interested in acting to give it a try. He says, “It is a lot of fun becoming someone you are not.” He encourages aspiring performers to “create their own techniques and embrace the gifts they have been given.” He believes the keys to success as an actor are to be unique, to learn to put yourself in the mind of the person you are playing, and, perhaps most of all, to persevere. “I like to tell people ‘you have to stick to it like stickers,’ ” Major says with a laugh.

The Walking Dead, AMC’s smash hit about life after a zombie apocalypse.  photo - Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead, AMC’s smash hit about life after a zombie apocalypse. photo – Gene Page/AMC

During his down time on the set, Majorplays with his Rubik’s Cube,  does research to learn about cars and tinkers with vintage cameras. PHOTO -  JEN DODSON

During his down time on the set, Majorplays with his Rubik’s Cube, does research to learn about cars and tinkers with vintage cameras. PHOTO – JEN DODSON

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