Actor and author Hill Harper graduated from Harvard Law School, but it’s his role as Dr Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: New York that enables him to make a difference.
On New York, Harper plays a former surgeon and medical examiner who helps solve crimes in the New York crime lab. “I like Dr Hawkes because he’s the most intelligent character on the show, and he’s not a nerd,” Harper said. “All the characters come to him for help.”
Playing the smart, capable Dr Hawkes gives the actor the opportunity to reach out to young people when he’s not on the New York set. Harper’s visibility on the CBS series helped him publish and promote several novels. His first two titles, Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny and Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny, are geared toward young African-American readers. In addition to writing these books, Harper has travelled around the country to speak to young people in person.
Harper aims to inspire teenagers to take charge of their own future and get a good education. “Kids need to learn to learn. And learn to be a better human being, to be a better member of society,” he said. “I’m in a profession, acting, where you only need a high school degree. But education increases my options and chances. Options are valuable, they’re like money.”
“I really love acting,” Harper said. He also loves the effect he’s had on young people thanks to his books and speaking engagements. “I believe I’ve had a wide, positive impact on teens,” he shared, “but I couldn’t have done it if I wasn’t known for being an actor.”