When it comes to being an actor, Eric D Hill Jr takes his craft seriously. Here, Eric shares insights on his role in the new hit film, “Brotherly Love“, and his failed attempt to guard NBA MVP/All-Star, Kevin Durant.
Lets start by telling everyone why you got into acting?
It’s funny because, I didn’t even want to get into acting, initially. Just for the purposes of full disclosure, my sister and I were the only black kids in our graduating class, and when you’re 6’2″ at 13 years old it raises eyebrows. I felt I could be a model, so my mom – who’s super supportive – came alongside of me and looked into a Q&A session on how to start a modeling career. Long story short, that turned into an audition for an acting studio and I wound up showcasing and landing my manager. When it came time for me to understand what it really meant to become an actor, I didn’t really know anything. I learned that, in order to become a great actor I had to figure out how to replicate real life, but in order to do that I had to first understand who I was. So, the ability to discover who I am while being paid for it, is the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
Now, you’ve got a pretty strong role in this movie, “Brotherly Love” that is in theaters now. Talk a little bit about your role in the film. Are there any similarities between you and this character?
I play Sergio Taylor, who is a basketball star and he lives in this really rough part of West Philly. Sergio’s dealing with a ton of different issues in his young life, and he’s just trying to make the right decisions. He and I are similar in that, he wants to do what’s right for his family. Here’s this promising NBA prospect who is in a position where he’ll be able to take care of his family and make them proud, and that’s something that I’m trying to do with acting. My sister went to school for this, and so I feel it is my responsibility to study my craft and deliver for her.
How did you like working with Keke Palmer and Cory Hardrict? Because, me and Cory go back a couple of years and he’s a good dude.
Man! Keke and Cory are amazing people; consummate professionals. We shot this feature film in 21 days, and anyone who knows about making movies, then you understand that this is not a very long period of time to shoot a film. But, throughout this process, Cory and Keke really made me feel comfortable and sure of my abilities. What I love about Keke is that she always made herself available to me. She and I would have long talks, and she really is an awesome person. Cory, as you know, is one of those dudes who cares about people. He used his veteran leadership to help me bring the best performance I could onscreen. They both took a lot of time out to help me understand that I was there for a reason, and I really appreciate them for that.
You did a few commercials with Kevin Durant too right?
Yes, I shot three commercials with KD and let me tell you, he’s one of the most humble and down-to-earth people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. He’s every bit as awesome as people say he is. I was shocked because he was very open to talking. My girlfriend went to the game KD was in at Baruch (College), and I missed it, but he dropped like 43 points or something like that. But, I brought that up to him and he really opened up to me about it, and said it was one of the best experiences of his life and that he’d love to do it again. Then, a month later we were in Oklahoma shooting around in the gym and he walks in and was like, “What’s up E,” I knew he was a genuine person.
Did you try to guard him at all? (laughs)
Man, he is so impossible to guard. I tried, and failed miserably. Just like everyone else who attempts to guard him. (laughs)
Actors go through all this rejection, and I’ve always felt that auditioning is so barbaric. Some people might even believe that once you’ve landed a leading role in a major theatrical release, you don’t have to audition anymore. How wrong is that?
That’s way off! Man, what are you talking about brother, I just came from an audition before I got on the phone with you! (laughs)
(laughs) I know it’s tough! What would you say to fellow actors to encourage them? Because, many of them are out there auditioning and aren’t getting the parts.
I’d tell everybody what I do. I always remind myself of why I got into this industry in the first place. That’s the most important thing because, we all have different goals, but if you just remember why you got started down this path, you’ll never lose sight of where you’re headed. When people are working a regular corporate job, they know what they’re doing the next day and they know where they’re going — to work. But, for actors, this is a profession where 90% of the people don’t work. The moment you can accept that, the better off you’ll be. Just accept it and keep pressing forward.
You’re going to have friends, or other people who may appear to be moving at an accelerated rate in their careers, while yours seems stagnant. But, you don’t know what they’re dealing with in their personal lives. They might be working but they’re going through a divorce, or some other ordeal you don’t know about. So, your personal life might be in better shape. Just be who you are and stay focused on why you’re doing this, and eventually it’ll all pan out.