By Jayla Dyas and Jessica James, JSHOP Reporters
Award-winning actor, bestselling author and activist Hill Harper passionately spoke to JSHOP students about them defining their future.
He told students that risk-taking is a crucial part of life, explaining that failing is in direct correlation with letting other people’s fears affect your own happiness.
“Fear projection is the greatest thing that will stop you in your walk,” he said on Aug. 3 during the 2018 National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Detroit.
Recently, Harper purchased the renowned Charles T. Fisher mansion in the Boston-Edison district of Detroit. This 100-year-old 18-square-foot landmark will not only include ample of living space for his family, it also will showcase Hill’s art collection while leaving space for instructors to come and teach students numerous art techniques.
“Everyone told me that I was making a catastrophic mistake,” he said. Harper believes that the house has some untapped energy, and will invite students on a personal tour when the renovation is complete. In April, Harper allowed the Junior League of Detroit to host a designers weekend where guests got to see how the mansion will be transformed room by room.
A 52-year-old Iowa native, Harper began his acting career at the age of 7. He’s known for his roles in TV series such as CSI: NY and The Good Doctor. Harper has also appeared in other TV series and numerous films, including the recent biopic about Tupac Shakur, All Eyez On Me.
Growing up, Harper’s grandparents ignited his hunger for helping others through their own diligent acts. He is the founder of The Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, which focuses on bringing aid to at-risk youth across the country.
The foundation also runs the Summer Empowerment Academy, which serves as a high school and college readiness program based in the most challenged areas in cities across the country. Harper brought this program to Detroit in the summer of 2017.
The actor was named New York Times best-selling author for five of his books, which are focused on empowering youth. While talking with JSHOP students, Harper stressed the importance of doing things that make you happy. He stressed that the next generation has an open window of possibility, which is why he wants to help them tap into their potential.
“I get a sense of joy,” Harper said while describing why he has a passion for mentoring youth. “My goal is to make a positive, high-scale impact.”
Harper’s initial dream to play football started in high school and he was expecting to receive a full-ride from the University of California Berkeley. When his expectations were not fulfilled, he went to Brown University where he discovered theater. He wanted the students to understand that your passions may not always be long-term, and that it’s okay to switch gears.
“The pivot is critical and being open to the pivot is critical,” he said. “Sometimes rejection is God’s protection.”