How hard is it to evolve from a model to an actor? Just ask Cindy Crawford or Tyson Beckford. Today, I am glad to share some thoughts on such an arduous and competitive journey from none other than Stephen Hill.
When I first met Steve at HU over a decade ago, we were starting to model for urban clothing lines and learning to stroll in front of the flickering cameras. One day, when I saw myself featured in The Source Magazine wearing Guess and Timberland, Steve had an RP55 ad of his own at the front of the magazine. I looked at my HU contemporary and remember thinking, If anyone deserves to make it in this industry, it's this guy right here. Why did I think this? Getting to know Steve is like meeting the friendliest neighbor on the block. Need advice? He's got you. Down on your luck? Just ask. Need a laugh? Get ready for your jaws to hurt. Fun to be around, this flourishing actor has a genuine smile and likable nature about him. Confident, yet humble, Steve is one of the coolest cats I think I have ever met. That said...please let me introduce a true theatrical artist in every sense, Mr. Stephen Hill.
1. When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
I decided to become an actor when I graduated from college and returned to NY to pursue a modeling career that I started at Hampton University. After a few years and a few modeling gigs, I figured I would try my hand at acting. When my mother passed away in 2003, I did some soul searching, and I chose to dedicate myself to acting full time. I said goodbye to corporate sales and hello to the techniques of Stanislavski's method acting.
2. Who are some actors you truly respect in the business?
Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, David Morse, Phylicia Rashad, Don Cheadle, Ron C. Jones...the list is about a mile long, but if you want to talk about the "business" of acting, I must mention Will Smith. What Will has accomplished in his career, as well as establishing his son's career, is second to none. We could use a few more Will Smith's.
3. What was it like being on Political Animals? How did you land that role? (Political Animals is a show on the USA Network, starring Sigourney Weaver)
Political Animals was a great experience, especially since it was my first recurring role on a network show. I landed the role by auditioning. I've developed a pretty good relationship with the casting director by having really strong auditions and frequent bookings. I was honored to book this particular role.
4. What are some projects you are currently working on?
I am currently creating a few projects of my own (writing), while a few more are making their rounds at film festivals (Barbasol). In addition, other projects are getting ready to be presented on the festival circuit (Stay Cold, Stay Hungry and An American in Hollywood).
5. What is your preference? Television acting or theater acting?
I would say television would be my preference, but I'm unafraid of the stage. I take stage work as a welcome challenge and an opportunity to develop a character to a depth you may not have the opportunity to when doing television, at least not as a day player. Ultimately, film work is my biggest goal. There's nothing like looking up at that big screen and seeing the outcome of the collective effort of hundreds of people (big budget) or a few dedicated souls (Indie).
6. What do you do to prepare for a role?
Read, read, and read. So much subtext will jump out at you when you simply read and re-read a script. I then analyze my script and break it down into chunks that are easier to digest scene by scene. I make character choices based on my training. Memorization of my lines is the final step before the lights splash the set and the director starts the engine.
One; get in line. Two; I will let you know what success is like when I get there. Unless you get there before me. LOL. Seriously, success is relative; I've met actors that simply act to "walk the red carpet." If you want more than that, be prepared to work really hard without any guarantee of recognition or payoff. This industry requires your blood, sweat, and tears, along with your ability to dream and keep dreaming, all while you're wide awake.
We believe you, Stephen. And trust and have certainty that we all support you as you climb the ladder of success. Best wishes.