Harper, Hill 1966(?)–

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Harper, Hill 1966(?)–

(Frank Harper)


Born May 17, 1966 (some sources say 1973), in Iowa City, IA. Education: Brown University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1988; Harvard University, J.D. (cum laude); Kennedy School of Government, M.A.


Agent—Principato-Young Entertainment, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 430, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Actor, business person, public speaker, and writer. Coowner of two hotels in New Orleans, LA.

Actor in numerous films, including Confessions of a Dog, 1993; Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, 1994; Drifting School, 1995; One Red Rose, 1995; Strange Days, 1995; Get on the Bus, 1996; Hoover Park, 1997; Have Plenty, 1997; Steel, 1997; The Assistant, 1997; Beloved, 1998; The Nephew, 1998; Park Day, 1998; He Got Game, 1998; Slaves of Hollywood, 1999; In Too Deep, 1999; Loving Jezebel, 1999; The Visit, 2000; The Skulls, 2000; Higher Ed, 2001; The Badge, 2002, Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, 2003; Andre Royo's Big Scene, 2004; America Brown, 2004; My Purple Fur Coat, 2004; Constellation, 2005; Whitepaddy, 2006; Max and Josh, 2006; Premium, 2006; The Breed, 2006; and 30 Days, 2006.

Actor in numerous television shows, including Married … with Children, 1987; Live Shot, 1995; Zooman, 1995; Mama Flora's Family, 1998; City of Angels, 2000; The Handler, 2003-04; CSI: NY, 2004-08; and Lackawanna Blues, 2005.

Television guest appearances include Life Goes On, 1993; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1994; Walker, Texas Ranger, 1994; M.A.N.T.I.S., 1994; Renegade, 1994; Murder One, 1995; Dangerous Minds, 1996; NYPD Blue, 1996; ER, 1997; Cosby, 1998; The Twilight Zone, 2002; "Holla," 2002; The Sopranos, 2004; Soul Food, 2004; and The 4400, 2005.

Stage appearances (many in New York) include American Buffalo, Your Handsome Captain, Freeman, The Toilet, Full Cycle, The Meeting, Las Virgines De Guadalupe, The Night the War Came Home, Reasons, The Colored Museum, The Dark Symphony, and Beyond Therapy. Also a member of Black Folk's Theater Company, Boston, MA, and founder of MANifest Your Destiny Foundation.


Audience Award, Urbanworld Film Festival, 2000; Emerging Artist Award, Chicago International Film Festival; John Garfield Best Actor award, 2001; Prize for Best Book for Young Adults, American Library Association, 2007, for Letters to a Young Brother,; NAACP Image Award for acting, 2008, for role in CSI: NY; W.E.B. DuBois Scholar Award, Annual Inner City Awards.


One Red Rose (screenplay), Showtime, 1995.

Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny, Gotham Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Also writer for the film Max and Josh, 2006.


Letters to a Young Brother has been adapted as a sound recording, Penguin Audio (New York, NY), 2006.


Hill Harper, born Frank Harper, is not a typical actor in that he graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, earned a law degree from Harvard University, and then received a master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government. Harper, who has appeared in numerous films and television shows, is perhaps best known by the general public for his role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the television series CSI: NY.

In his first book, Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, the author offers inspirational advice to young black men in the form of a series of letters designed to help readers chart their own path to success. The letters are based on the author's motivational speaking engagements at inner-city schools across the United States and deal with many of the toughest issues faced by young people. The author is "deep, but he manages to speak to everyone in this heartfelt guide," noted a contributor to Essence.

According to Harper, Letters to a Young Brother evolved from his conversations with the young men who approached him after one of his motivational speeches. "[That day] made me realize that there are so many questions that young men have and they don't necessarily have people in their lives, particularly men, who can answer those questions," Harper told Marti Parham in an article for Jet. Harper added: "Oftentimes they don't have role models or they don't feel comfortable asking questions to the men who are in their lives." The book was also partially inspired by Letters to a Young Poet, by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was writing to a younger protégé. According to a profile on the Real Men Read Web site, in the debut presentation for his book, Harper told an audience at King College Prep High School: "You have to make a choice. Commit to being an active architect of your own life and to turning your dreams into reality."

In his book, the author sets out to dispel stereotypical images of success that young people receive today, primarily through music, advertisements, and films, and provide alternative indicators of what it truly means to be a successful male, such as educational and community achievements and developing true self-respect. "Taken from his own experiences, Harper offers advice and encouragement on media stereotypes and obtaining a well-rounded education in a voice that will resonate with many readers," Kenneth Meeks wrote in an article for Black Enterprise. The author also writes about the importance of mentorship. He founded the MANifest Your Destiny Foundation to provide mentorship, grants, and scholarships to disadvantaged young men. Proceeds from Letters to a Young Brother go to the foundation.

"Hill has always had a keen interest in mentoring, and, in fact, we were both Big Brothers when we were in Rhode Island," Harper's business partner Sean Cummings told Allison Wentz in an article for the Brown Daily Herald Online. "We spent a lot of time particularly using sports as a way to teach and mentor a couple of kids in the Providence area," Cummings added. As the author told Meeks, "Most successful people are willing to apprentice individuals. You might have to work for free and you might have to work very diligently to prove to them that you're serious."

Letters to a Young Brother features chapters on school, work, and life aspirations. The author also devotes book chapters to sex and various other personal issues, such as single parenthood and sexually transmitted diseases. Harper writes about the good and bad sides of materialism, faith, and the power of words. The book includes pertinent e-mails from young men with responses from Harper or other celebrities, including politician Barack Obama and tennis star Venus Williams. The author also provides a look at his personal life, including growing up with a father who was demanding and being distant from his mother until much later in his life.

Vernon Ford, writing in Booklist, noted that young black men are the book's primary focus but added that Letters to a Young Brother "should have appeal for youth of both sexes and all races." Curtis Stephen commented in Black Issues Book Review that the author "infuses his words with a healthy dose of optimism as well as insights."

Harper turns his attention to young women in his second book, Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny. The author told Margena A. Christian in a Jet interview: "I got so many e-mails and letters asking why didn't I and would I write a book for young women…. Success isn't race- or gender-specific."

In Letters to a Young Sister, Harper discusses topics such as confronting racism and sexism; boys, sex, and responsibility; and creating an authentic image that is as unique as a fingerprint. He also discusses playing to win and universal issues such as avoiding credit card addiction. As in Letters to a Young Brother, Harper includes e-mails written by well-known and successful individuals, including accomplished women such as Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Michelle Obama, Ruby Dee, Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, and Nikki Giovanni.

Karla Mass, writing for the Charlotte.com Web site, asked the author to compare his book for young women to his earlier book of advice for young men. Harper told Mass: "Obviously it's similar because they're both written for young people. But young women are different from young men. Women are more complex. With young women, we find that some are doing very well in school, but have self-esteem issues. This book is longer and it goes into more issues than Letters to a Young Brother."

Harper includes a daily personal plan in Letters to a Young Sister, as well as photos. A contributor to BET.com stated: "Anyone who's got a young daughter or knows of a young girl struggling with growing up and trying to find her place in this confusing world that threatens to beat them down [and] choke their dreams out of them could benefit from the life [lessons] in Letters to a Young Sister."



Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 46, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.

Henderson, Ashyia, editor, Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 32, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.


Black Enterprise, June, 2006, Kenneth Meeks, "Back Talk with Hill Harper," p. 288.

Black Issues Book Review, July-August, 2006, Curtis Stephen, review of Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, p. 43.

Booklist, April 15, 2006, Vernon Ford, review of Letters to a Young Brother, p. 7.

Daily Variety, March 8, 2002, Melissa Grego, "Harper to Yak for VH1," p. 84; April 14, 2008, Byron Perry, "Keith David (‘Crash’) and Hill Harper (CSI: NY) Will Narrate Docu ‘Soul on a Wave,’ about Black Surfers around the World," p. 4.

Ebony, February, 2005, "5 Questions For: Hill Harper," p. 24.

Entertainment Weekly, May 4, 2001, Lisa Schwarzbaum, "Prison Blues: A Dying Young Convict Searches for Redemption Both in and outside His Jail Cell in the Visit," p. 45.

Essence, June, 2006, "Great Gifts for Dad," review of Letters to a Young Brother, p. 94.

Hollywood Reporter, April 8, 2004, Nellie Andreeva, "Harper Bites at ‘CSI’ Big Apple," p. 4.

Jet, November 1, 2004, "Hill Harper: Has Acting down to a Science," p. 40; May 22, 2006, Marti Parham, "Hill Harper Star of TV's ‘CSI: NY’ Not Your Average Hollywood Hunk," p. 54; July 23, 2007, Margena A. Christian, "Hill Harper Lands Two-book Deal after Success of ‘Letters to a Young Brother,’" p. 36.

People, November 3, 2003, Terry Kelleher, "The Handler: CBS," p. 43; November 29, 2004, "Hill Harper," p. 139.

TelevisionWeek, October 3, 2005, Natalie Finn, "Dr. Do Good Does the Right Thing in New Orleans," p. 2.

TV Guide, September 12, 2004, "CSI: NY," p. 56.

Variety, November 15, 1999, Lisa Nesselson, "Loving Jezebel," p. 92.


BET.com,http://www.bet.com/ (June 9, 2008), "What Does Hill Harper Know about the Travails of Young Girls? Plenty!"

Brown Daily Herald Online,http://media.www.browndailyherald.com/ (February 13, 2008), Allison Wentz, "CSI: NY Star Harper '88 Goes beyond the Screen."

Charlotte.com,http://www.charlotte.com/ (June 13, 2008), Karla Mass, "Book Review: Hill Harper Defines Your Destiny," interview with author.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (June 15, 2008), information on author's television and film work.

Real Men Read,http://www.realmenread.cps.k12.il.us/ (June 15, 2008), Tiffany M. Johnson, "Speaker Series Profile Celebrities Who Value Education."