Campaign News
February 27, 2012

'CSI:NY' actor and author Hill Harper will speak at UAB on Monday

Chanda Temple   ·  The Birmingham News   ·  Link to Article

It’s gotten to a point where award-winning actor and author Hill Harper has learned to kick fear to the curb.

He has to. If he gave in to it, it just would weigh him down and stop him from reaching his destiny.

When he wanted to go to Harvard University, people told him that would be impossible. He proved them wrong.

Not only did he get a master’s degree in public administration, he went on to graduate from Harvard Law School. President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, were his law school classmates.

After Harvard, Harper decided he wanted to become an actor. Negative voices surfaced again, telling him he was making a mistake. Some told him he was throwing away his education. He didn’t listen.

Today, he’s appeared in several movies and television shows. He just wrapped shooting the eighth season of “CSI: NY” and will soon shoot the movie “1982,” which is about the introduction of crack cocaine into the black community.

On Monday at 7 p.m., he will give a free talk at the UAB Alys Stephens Center’s Jemison Hall, 1200 10th Ave. South, as part of his national collegiate tour for Black History Month. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The center is on the UAB campus.

One of the topics Harper will address is how one can overcome fear and live his or her best life possible.

“As most of us already know, the actions that we would like to take and could and should do, we intuitively know those things already,” said Harper, 45. “But the vast majority of us stop ourselves. So, what I want to discuss and talk about is how can we deal with the fear that stops most of us from taking the actions that we should take.”

From time to time, fear has challenged him.

In 2010, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the same disease that took his father’s life. He was scared, realizing he could be following in his father’s footsteps, but not in a good way.

He had surgery. Today, he is cancer free.

Again, he showed fear the door, realizing there were things one can and can’t control in life. He opted to stay positive.

Being an active architect of one’s own life is one of the themes that runs through many of his books. He’s written four New York Times bestsellers: “Letters to a Young Brother,” Letters to a Young Sister,” “The Conversation” and “The Wealth Cure.”

He’s working on another book, nonfiction, that will deal with the prison system. In a recent interview, he said he could not release the book title at this point. He has received several NAACP Image Awards for his literary and theatrical work. Earlier this month, he received an NAACP Image Award for his latest book, “The Wealth Cure,” which he wrote while dealing with his diagnosis of thyroid cancer. In 2004, People magazine named him one of its “Sexiest Men Alive.”

Harper is the founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation. Its mission is to empower, encourage and inspire under-served youth through mentorship, scholarship and grant programs. He said he hopes to leave a legacy of making a positive impact through his foundation, his books and his acting.

After his talk, “Letters to a Young Brother/Sister,” he will sign copies of his books.

So, what does Harper hope people will walk away with after hearing him speak?

“I just hope that they feel inspired to live a bigger, more courageous life than they did when they walked in,” he said.

For more information about Monday’s lecture, call 934-8931 or go here.

In a telephone interview from Los Angeles, here are a few things that Hill Harper shared with me:

*Monday’s appearance won’t be his first visit to Alabama. He shot the 2005 movie, “Constellation” in Huntsville. The movie featured stars such as Zoe Saldana, Gabrielle Union, Rae Dawn Chong, Billy Dee Williams and Clarence Williams III.

*He’s visited the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

*He asked about former Harvard Law School classmate and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell. “I’m going to call her and tell her I’m coming to town,” he said.

*On Twitter, Harper pulls for Chris Mann, a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice.” “He’s one of my best friends,” Harper said of Mann. Harper’s Twitter handle is @HillHarper. (A 19-year-old female student in France started the Hill Harper Twitter fan page, @HillHarper_Team, in October 2011. It provides updates on his speaking engagements, projects and trivia. Fans also use the hashtag, #TeamHill, when referring to Harper on Twitter.)

*On Twitter, he hypes up the New York Knicks and player Jeremy Lin. “Jeremy Lin came out of Harvard and now he’s tearing up the NBA,” Harper said.

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