From stage to TV, how taking chances has led to a fulfilling life for Ray Cortopassi
By Abby Walton
In 1991, a young Ray Cortopassi stepped onto an Illinois stage in his first role in a community theater production.
“The play was Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” and I played Giles Ralston, the innkeeper who owned the local bed and breakfast,” he said. Today, most people know Cortopassi as one of the news anchors for Fox 59 Morning News. It might not be that surprising that as a young person, he enjoyed performing, but what most people don’t know is that although Cortopassi is an outgoing person, he had serious doubts about whether he could get up on stage and perform. “I would always second guess myself. I thought it would be fun to be on stage, but I didn’t know if I could do it and often worried that I would fail,” he said.
At Columbia College in Chicago, Cortopassi finally gathered the courage to try out for the play, “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
“When it was my time to audition, they called me up and asked me what my name was and I said ‘Mortimer’ which was the name of the character I was auditioning for,” Cortopassi said. “I didn’t get the part.”
Even though he thought he’d never do it again, Cortopassi tried the acting thing one more time after his wife gave him acting lessons as a gift. After that, Cortopassi decided to try community theater again and that’s when his role in “The Mousetrap” came along. After that came a few roles here and there until he got a job as a print reporter in Chicago.
“My degree was in journalism so I’d finally got a job, was working unusual hours and so I stepped away from the stage to focus on my career,” he said.
As a print and then TV reporter, Cortopassi’s career took off, moving him around the country and bringing him to Indianapolis in 1999. After a nine year stint at WRTV, Cortopassi left the station and worked as a freelance reporter for WTHR for one year.
“During that time, I was hired as the executive director for the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce,” he said. In 2009, Cortopassi joined FOX 59 permanently as one of the morning anchors.
“I came here and kept my chamber position for another two years, tackling both positions. It was a big gamble, but with a supportive board of directors and an understanding news director, I managed both positions until I was promoted to 4 p.m. anchor (in addition to the morning news). That’s when I retired from the Zionsville Chamber in 2011,” he said.
For Cortopassi, taking risks has led to some amazing adventures, including becoming a husband and father.
“I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who has always had great instincts in life, especially as a mother. Kids are going to be their own people no matter how much influence you try to have over them. But helping them grow up to be people who make good choices and treat others with kindness is my main goal,” he said. While people around Zionsville and Central Indiana may know Cortopassi as the TV news anchor, actor or volunteer, at home, he’s a husband and a dad, which if you ask him, are the roles of a lifetime.
Meet Ray Cortopassi
He and his wife, Leslie, have four children: Ryan, 15, Drew, 13, Tess, 11 and Christopher, 8.
Has lived in Zionsville for 14 years.
Grew up in Dolton, Ill., south suburbs of Chicago
Anchor/Reporter for WXIN’s FOX 59 Morning News and FOX 59 News at 4 p.m.
Co-founder of Off Main Street players, a community theater group in Zionsville.
His most embarrassing moment on TV: “There’ve been too many to count. Losing focus during a live shot early in my career, putting on Honey Boo Boo’s dress last Halloween. Just Google my name and spider and see what comes up.”