Hill Harper

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Hill Harper
Hill Harper.jpg
Hill Harper at Left Bank Books in St. Louis, MO signing his book Letters to a Young Brother (May 22, 2007).
Born Frank Eugene Harper
(1966-05-17) May 17, 1966 (age 49)
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.
Other names F. Hill Harper
Alma mater Brown University
Harvard University
Occupation Actor, author
Years active 1993–present

Frank Eugene Harper (born May 17, 1966), known professionally as Hill Harper, is an American film, television and stage actor, and author. He is best known for playing Will Beckford in the 2000 film The Skulls. He currently plays the role of Special Agent Spelman Boyle on Limitless.

Early life[edit]

Harper was born in Iowa City, Iowa, the son of Harry Harper, a psychiatrist, and Marilyn Hill, who was one of the first black practicing anesthesiologists in the United States.[1][2][3] He has been acting since the age of 7. Harper graduated from Bella Vista High School in 1984. He then graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1988. In 1992 Harper graduated with a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. In addition, he also received his Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[4] During his years at Harvard, he was a full-time member of Boston's Black Folks Theater Company, one of the oldest and most acclaimed black theater troupes in the country.[5] While a student at Harvard, Harper befriended President Barack Obama.[6] Harper and Obama met on the basketball court and became good friends during their first year as law students.

Although Harper earned three Ivy League degrees, he decided to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles. He has received honorary doctorates from both Westfield State College and Howard University. Born Francis Eugene Harper, he adopted the name "Hill" as a tribute to both his maternal and paternal ancestors.[citation needed]

Acting career[edit]

Harper's first roles in television began in 1993, doing recurring work on the Fox series Married... with Children while also making his film debut in the short Confessions of a Dog. He had his first substantial role in a feature in Spike Lee's Get on the Bus (1996), which cast him as a UCLA film student riding a bus to the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. He went on to further demonstrate his versatility in such films as Christopher Scott Cherot's Hav Plenty (1997) and Lee's He Got Game (1998), the former of which featured him as an egotistical pop-soul singer.

His profile subsequently rose on both the mainstream and independent film circuits, thanks to roles in films ranging from Beloved (1998) to the independent romantic comedy Loving Jezebel (1999) to The Skulls (2000 - with his portrayal of Will Beckford), and for , an entry into the teen thriller genre. Harper did some of his most acclaimed work in Jordan Walker-Pearlman's The Visit (2000), an independent drama in which he starred as a prisoner dying of AIDS who tries to put his life back together.[7]

His best-known role to date is that of coroner-turned-crime scene investigator Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the CBS crime drama CSI: NY. He worked in the series for nine seasons. He also portrayed Leshem in the 2010 Syfy original movie Stonehenge Apocalypse.[8]

In February 2013 it was announced that CSI: NY would be ending and Harper would be joining the cast of Covert Affairs as a series regular.[9]

Writing career and political advocacy[edit]

Harper is the author of several books: Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, was published in 2006, Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny, was published in 2008; The Conversation: How (Black) Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships, was published in 2010. His fourth book, The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place, was published in 2011, and his fifth book, Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope, and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones was published in 2013. In January 2008, he participated in "Yes We Can", a music video supporting Barack Obama, produced by will.i.am. Harper is a member of the Obama for America National Finance Committee.[10]

As of October 2009, Hill has made several contributions to political candidates, exclusively to Democrats. Harper endorsed the 10,000 Bookbags[11] back to school backpack campaign to help local disadvantaged children with Urban Change Ministries founder Pastor Jay Cameron of the Life Center and R&B singer Ginuwine.[12] Harper stated that he is a fiscal conservative when he appeared on the political talk show Hannity on September 10, 2009.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In the fall of 2008, Harper was initiated as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity with his line brothers Dr. Naim Akbar of Florida State University and former NFL player Leo LeMarcus Newman.[13]

Harper won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for three consecutive years (2008–2010) for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: NY. Previously he had been nominated for the award for three consecutive years (2005–2007), for the same character. In 2000, he had also been nominated for the award, for his role in the medical drama City of Angels. On January 9, 2014 his book Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope, and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Non-Fiction.

Personal life[edit]

While writing his fourth book, Hill was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After treatment, he was given a clean bill of health.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings Peter
1996 Get on the Bus Xavier
1997 Steel Slats
1997 Hav Plenty Michael Simmons
1998 The Nephew Chad Egan-Washington
1998 Beloved Halle
1998 He Got Game Coleman 'Booger' Sykes
1998 Park Day Steve Johnson
1999 In Too Deep Breezy T.
1999 Loving Jezebel Theodorous
1999 Slaves of Hollywood Fisher Lovelace
2000 The Skulls Will Beckford
2000 The Visit Alex Waters Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
2003 Love, Sex and Eating the Bones Michael Joseph
2005 Constellation Errol Hickman
2006 Max and Josh Josh Short film
2006 The Breed Noah
2006 Premium Ed
2008 This Is Not a Test Carl
2008 A Good Man Is Hard to Find Damion Marshall
2010 For Colored Girls Donald Watkins
2011 Mama, I Want to Sing! Jeff Andrews
2013 Miss Dial Political Nutcase
2013 The Volunteer Phil
2013 1982 Tim Brown
2014 Parts Per Billion Rick
2015 The Boy Next Door Principal Edward Warren
2015 Concussion Christopher Jones


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Life Goes On Nurse #2 Episode: "Incident on Main"
1993–94 Married... with Children Aaron Mitchell 5 episodes
1994 Renegade Clarence 'Dex' Dexter Episode: "South of 98"
1994 M.A.N.T.I.S. N/A Episode: "Tango Blue"
1994 Walker, Texas Ranger B.J. Mays Episode: "Badge of Honor"
1994 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Dana Episode: "Will Steps Out"
1995 The Client J-Top Episode: "Them That Has..."
1995 Live Shot Tommy Greer 13 episodes
1996 NYPD Blue Bo-Bo Thomas Episode: "The Blackboard Jungle"
1996 Dangerous Minds Darryl Episode: "Family Ties"
1997 ER Mr. Jackson Episode: "Obstruction of Justice"
1998 Cosby Preston Episode: "Men Are from Mars Women Are from Astoria"
1998 Mama Flora's Family Don Television movie
2000 City of Angels Dr. Wesley Williams 24 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
2002 The Court Christopher Bell Unsold TV pilot
2002 The Twilight Zone Professor John Woodrell Episode: "Shades of Guilt"
2003–04 The Handler Darnell 16 episodes
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Television Series
2004 Soul Food Kelvin Chadway 2 episodes
2004 The Sopranos Stokley Davenport M.D. Episode: "Irregular Around the Margins"
2004 CSI: Miami Dr. Sheldon Hawkes Episode: "MIA/NYC NonStop"
2004–13 CSI: NY Dr. Sheldon Hawkes 197 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series (2008–10)
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series (2005–07, 2011–13)
2005 The 4400 Edwin Mayuya Episode: "Rebirth"
2005 Lackawanna Blues Ruben, Jr. (Adult) Television movie
2009 The Game Himself Episode: "Hill Street Blues"
2010 Stonehenge Apocalypse Joseph Lesham Television movie
2013–14 Covert Affairs Calder Michaels 32 episodes
2015 Madam Secretary Aiden Humphrey Episode: "The Kill List"
2015 Limitless Spelman Boyle 12 episodes

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ "Hill Harper: Biography, Latest News & Videos". TV Guide. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  2. ^ Huntley, Kristine (January 25, 2006). "Hill Harper". CSI Files. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Lynn (May 4, 2007). "Hill Harper is Much More Than Meets the Eye". EveryJoe.com. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
  4. ^ "Hill Harper bio". Manifest Your Destiny. Retrieved November 15, 2010. Archived July 4, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Miller, Kiley (December 15, 2007). "Actor returns to Iowa for Obama". The Hawk Eye. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Dani, Sarika (October 24, 2008). "Actor and Obama pal Hill Harper: 'He gets it right'". msnbc.com. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  7. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 15, 2000). "Overcoming Bitterness On the Way to Redemption". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  8. ^ Foy, Scott (June 9, 2010). "Watch a Preview of the Stonehenge Apocalypse!". DreadCentral. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  9. ^ Ng, Philiana (February 22, 2013). "CSI: NY Star Hill Harper Joins Covert Affairs as Series Regular". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  10. ^ "Obama for America National Finance Committee". George Washington University. Retrieved June 1, 2008.
  11. ^ "Support Our 10,000 Bookbag Giveaway on 8.8.09". The Life Center – Urban Change. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  12. ^ Pendleton, Tonya (August 12, 2009). "Ginuwine, Hill Harper Lead Back-to-School Effort". BlackAmericaWeb.com. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  13. ^ "Actor Hill Harper Is INDUCTED into the African American Fraternity ALPHA PHI ALPHA". Media Take Out. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  14. ^ Rhone, Nedra (August 22, 2011). "Actor Hill Harper cures his health and America's wealth". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved August 23, 2011.

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