Erica Hubbard is a beautiful young lady who is proving to be a rising star in Hollywood. The best thing about Erica is not her recent success on ABC Family’s Lincoln Heights, nor her upcoming sitcom on BET, but rather the fact that she is in love with Jesus! I had a wonderful time talking with Erica and was refreshed by her contagious spirit, her desire to help others, and her commitment to her faith in spite of her fame.
Candie A. Price: Erica, we are so glad to be able to talk to you today! How are you doing?
Erica Hubbard: I’m good! This is very exciting for me today! I had to do ADR* for Cold Case, I’m on the season finale of Cold Case and I’m on my way to an audition, but besides all that this is the most important thing to me today, this interview with WOW! And I’m not exaggerating because I’m a woman of the Word! I was like, this is more important than all this auditioning and stuff! This opportunity to me means so much!
CAP: Well, thanks Erica, you had a chance to look at the magazine and our website?
EH: Yes, I looked at it a couple of times and I thank you for this opportunity.
CAP: It’s our pleasure! Well, first we’d like to know a little about your background. Where were you raised and what was your upbringing like?
EH: I was raised on the southside of Chicago with my mom and then I moved to the west suburbs with my dad, then I moved back to downtown Chicago to go to Columbia College where I graduated from. But my upbringing was –whew, my mom was like sanctified, Pentecostal, non-denominational so we would go to all these churches, even COGIC, but my grandmother was a devout Catholic – so growing up I went to so many different types of churches – anywhere where family members were like, “Jesus is there,” that’s where were at!
CAP: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
EH: There are five of us – I have two biological sisters, a foster brother – well I shouldn’t say foster because we adopted him a while ago –adopted brother and a stepsister.
CAP: Are any of them in the business?
EH: No, my stepsister tried to get in the business – she did a couple of modeling jobs and a commercial and then she just stopped, so I’m the only one.
CAP: Why did you want to become an actress? What was your motivation?
EH: Well, my dad used to work for Sears and he had a good friend that handled the clothes that went to the models, so back when I was nine years old he talked to his friend and his friend said ‘let her do some modeling.’ So I started off modeling and then I started doing commercials and then voice-overs, and then slowly but surely they said ‘she needs to sign with an agency.’ So once I signed with an agency back in Chicago, I started doing more commercials, more industrials, and then television and film. Then by the time I turned 18 I started taking it seriously and said, okay this is not a hobby anymore so this is something I can pursue as a lifelong occupation.
CAP: We are so proud of you and your success as Cassie Sutton on ABC Family’s Lincoln Heights, my daughter and I have watched it since it debuted – she’s 15 – but this is not your breakout role since you’ve had these other things, but would you consider it your breakout role?
EH: As far as television I would say it’s my breakout role but as far as film, to me my break out role was really saying, “Ok, this is a huge gig,” was booking The Cinderella Story with Hillary Duff. That right there changed a lot for me just working beside her and then also after I did that I ended up booking Akeelah and the Bee working with Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer. That was another opportunity for me. I was kind of in the film world.
CAP: Well, I heard a rumor that Lincoln Heights has been canceled. Is that true?
EH: Yeah, we went into syndication on TV One – the reruns – and once we got picked up on TV One we knew that this was it, but we did four great years and everybody was happy that it lasted that long.
CAP: Well, it was a good family show, though, and I just felt like there were more stories for the Suttons to tell. Did they give a reason as to why they canceled it, especially since it won awards and everything and was doing well.
EH: Yeah, we won an Image Award for Best Family Drama, but after that happened we were hoping that TV One would pick it up since they were doing the reruns, kind of like what BET did with The Game – how The Game used to be on CW and BET picked it up for a season – we were hoping that TV One picked us up.
CAP: But it hasn’t happened yet?
EH: It hasn’t happened yet, but I just got picked up on another tv series
CAP: Oh, you did?
EH: Yeah, I’m happy! I am so happy about that! It is such a blessing to go from one tv series to another
CAP: So what’s that project?
EH: It’s a comedy and it’s called Let’s Stay Together
CAP: And what station picked it up?
EH: Actually, BET
CAP: Ok, great! Well let me ask you about your role on Lincoln Heights. One thing I liked about Cassie was she was flawed, well all of us are, but she was growing up under some difficult circumstances, she had a great family support system, but she was beginning to know who she was, she was trying to finding herself, I thought, and she was becoming more mature and independent. How does your life as Erica reflect that at all, or does it?
EH: Oh, my gosh, I want to say thank you so much, Candie, for saying that because that is exactly what I wanted to do with Cassie Sutton. My life reflects Cassie Sutton down to the “t” because when I first started out with this character, back in – we did the pilot back in ’05, but we started working in ’06-’07, but I said I want to take this young girl and make her kind of like an introvert – shy, quiet, trying to fit in, doesn’t really know her place, and that’s how I was in high school. I was not the popular girl at all in high school and I wanted to have a sense of belonging with a group, but I never did really fit in. So, I looked for love in my relationships, when I started dating like Cassie Sutton. When I played Cassie Sutton and Charles – I was like don’t worry about the outside circumstances and you’re new in this school – and that happened to me I went from one high school to the other high school. Eddie Sutton, her dad, transferred them from the suburbs to the inner city, well actually the opposite happened to me in life – I went from the inner city to the suburbs. Where do I fit in, where do I belong so I took all of those elements of how I felt when I was in high school and I played that when I portrayed Cassie Sutton. And I dated outside my race too, with an Italian guy, so the same thing happened, basically, except that I didn’t draw I was in theatre.
CAP: Do you have other projects that you’ve picked up?
EH: Besides Let’s Stay Together which is going to debut in 2011, oh, let me say this Queen Latifah is producing the project and we are happy about that!
CAP: That’s awesome!
EH: Oh, I’ve met her and I am so excited and it should do really well with her producing it and I’ve just done an episode of Cold Case which aired in May – the season finale –actually I just finished doing the ADR* for that –which was kind of sad because I died in that episode – yeah, it was weird – that whole thing -seeing yourself die is really eerie, ..ughh and then beside that I think I’m going to really jump full force into the comedy.
CAP: Who else is playing in the comedy?
EH: Bert Belasco, Joyful Drake, RonReaco Lee, and he did a lot of stuff -over 20 something episodes of Sister Sister – and I have to give a shout out to him because he’s from Illinois too. I have to shout out to all my people like Akeelah and the Bee -Keke Palmer – another Chicagoan!
CAP: Well, one of the things I like to ask – we are always interested in how others, especially celebrities and people who have high-powered jobs, come to the knowledge of God’s saving grace. Could you briefly tell us your salvation testimony?
EH: Ooh, my salvation testimony happened when I was 13 – you know I was reading the magazine and my story is a little different than others meaning that– okay, when I got saved I got saved in a church where people were speaking in tongues, they were laying hands, catching the Holy Ghost and they were casting out demons and I still hold true to that fast forward several years later – when I got saved I actually got hands laid on me and I passed out – and that feeling – I didn’t know what that feeling was – I didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit but I knew that I didn’t want to ever give up that feeling ever, ever, ever. With the churches that I’ve been going to I like for the Holy Spirit to be flowing – the Holy Spirit to be present and you can feel that sometimes when you walk into certain churches. But there’s a book that I read – that I’ve read from cover to cover, Candie, it’s called Pigs in the Parlor – and that book has helped me stay in Hollywood and do the things that I do here because, it’s hard, you know – the spirit of rejection, the spirit of abandonment, all of that hits you hard when you don’t get an opportunity or a job and you have to know what stronghold this is and how to break the stronghold, break the chains so it won’t manifest itself or transform into another spirit. You see so many people out here doing drugs and alcohol and it’s just like, Whoaa, what happened? And to me what it is is that they don’t know – the spirit of rejection can harm you if you don’t know how to handle it properly…. I’m rambling, stop me Candie!
CAP: No, because that was part of my next question how do you balance being a Christian with the life of an actress? I know it has to be hard maintaining your principles in Hollywood, so keep talking!
EH: Yes, also [the book] Breaking Unhealthy Soul Ties because sometimes you get people around you and they are like, ‘Oh, you’re on Lincoln Heights and I’m going to be your friend” and they don’t mean you any good! So you have to know everybody can’t go with you where you are trying to go – you have to have a spirit of discernment – so I’m always tapping into that and then also my weapon which is speaking in tongues and that helps me to maneuver through – because you have egos and all kinds of people out here that are trying to destroy and want to see you fall – so if I let my life shine and they try to break me down, I start speaking in tongues – and of course you can’t do it out loud because people will start looking at you like you’re crazy, and not everyone knows what it is, but it helps the situation and when I get attacked, I just have to call on God right then and there and I’ll know that certain demonic forces were trying to attack me and then I bind them. And that has helped me with my longevity in Hollywood, I’ve been here for 10 years and so far, so good! With those principles in mind it’s so good…you have to put your armor on.
CAP: I have a daughter who’s an aspiring actress, what advice would you like to give to other Christians seeking these types of careers especially with all that they may have to encounter?
EH: Find a mentor, someone that goes to church or prays regularly and is spirit- filled – call them and ask for advice and what you should do and what you shouldn’t do because it’s hard, I’ve had a lot of characters I played and I would say, “uh, oh, should I play this?” Certain things I even doubt and you need a mentor to kind of help guide you a long – you need a support team.
CAP: Is there something in place, maybe underground or not, I don’t know, for Christians in Hollywood? I’ve always wondered how they get through unless they have a support system.
EH: Well, one of my mentors, his name is Cy Richardson and he’s a Christian actor and I would call him and talk to him and he would help me and guide me through this industry. So just finding someone that is faith based, but still pursuing what you want to pursue guiding you through the entertainment industry.
CAP: I would think that one of the hardest things to do is deciding what roles to play and what roles not to play
EH: I just played a role in a film and I was like Lord what do I do? I had to wear lingerie and curse, and it was the hardest role that I ever had to play and this was just offered to me last week but you know what though I think that if you are centered and aligned with God there should be no condemnation but if you are too convicted don’t do it – it’s going to weigh heavy on you, but it’s hard, but I think that when I’m challenged with nudity roles, I can’t go there, I just can’t go there, personally!
CAP: What is your favorite scripture and why?
EH: Psalm 23 – when I say that scripture it gives me a spiritual fulfillment to know that God has my back and that everything and anything I need he already knows before I know so all my decisions that I call myself making, uh, uh, I need to go to God first. CAP: What biblical character do you think most mirrors your life, if any and why?
EH: I don’t know that I have a biblical character that mirrors my life but I do pray Abraham’s inheritance over my life! I believe that it is such a blessing to have prosperity on your life and if I can pray Abraham’s inheritance I can take this financial gift that God has given me and I can put it back to the community. So with that being said I created the Erica Hubbard Foundation for at-risk youth and deals with poverty. I believe poverty is a spirit that hinders us but if you know that God’s will is for us to have and that it comes from God and it’s not about you, how talented you are or what you’ve done, and you pray for Abraham’s inheritance over your life, then you should take that money and put it back into the community. So I began to go into the schools and talk to kids that were looking at me like I was crazy. I went to Detroit and talked to a group of pregnant teenagers and they were saying ‘Why are you here?’ but then I knew that it was my ministry when after I finished speaking to them they saw that I cared.
CAP: What other things would you like to accomplish? What’s next for Erica Hubbard? I’m sure I’m going to see you in a whole lot of other things and your career will blossom but what other things would you like to do?
EH: Right now, my foundation – I just travel from school to school, community centers and youth groups to speak, but ultimately I want to have a community center on the south side of Chicago.
CAP: Erica, again, I want to thank you for spending a little time letting us get to know you. We wish you wonderful things in your career and we will be praying for your success! God bless!
EH: I feel so fortunate talking to WOW! This was a huge opportunity and I have a heart of gratitude!
For more information on Erica her website is ericahubbard.com and her foundation can be found at ericahubbardfoundation.org
*ADR is the process of re-recording the original dialogue after filming for the purpose of obtaining a cleaner, more intelligible dialogue track (also known as looping or a looping session)
Featured in: WOW! Magazine Summer 2010
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