One of the more compelling actors of his generation, Hill Harper has earned a reputation for turning in complex performances defined by equal parts intensity and charisma. Acting since the age of 7, Harper, a native of Iowa City, continued to nurture his interest while an undergraduate student at Brown and then as a graduate student at Harvard, where he earned degrees in law and government. During his years at Harvard, the actor was a full-time member of Boston's Black Folks Theater Company, one of the oldest and most acclaimed African-American theater troupes in the country.
Harper broke into both film and television in 1993, doing recurring work on the Fox series Married...with Children and 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 Lee's He Got Game (1998) and Christopher Scott Cherot's Hav Plenty (1997), the latter of which featured him as an egotistical pop-soul singer.