A month before Terayle Hill would walk across the stage to receive his undergraduate degree at Clark Atlanta University, a portion of his big break was just getting started.
This would be his role as Jalen in the pilot, first, and second season of BET’s “The Quad.” A series shot on the HBCU grounds, in which CAU played a part and where Hill also fell in love with acting; creating his first award-winning short film “Largo.”
At 24, Hill is attending another round of his higher education experience with working towards his Masters degree, of heavy but worth it 30 hour classes at Full Sail’s Creative Writing Program. He’s also managing improving his acting abilities on the set, with numerous accolades on TV and predominantly within independent films. “I think it’s a privilege and a dream to be a part of these productions on camera! Two of them are in theaters right now (Love, Simon & Acrimony). It’s scary to think about; the idea of being on TV when you never thought that was even a possibility. But these independent projects that I’ve been blessed to work on, have been just as, if not more inspiring to me. I’m not really getting paid too much for these productions, but I’m not doing it for the money anyway. I’m working on a film right now called “Masters,” and I get to work with Khalil Kain. Khalil Kain was telling me all of these Tupac stories; that’s timeless. Obba Babatunde is playing my boss, and I’m working with these legends essentially and I’m first on the call sheet so I would do that for free. That’s where my real inspiration comes from, and that’s where most of the characters I play come from, so I gotta show love to the independent world.”
It’s rare when actors are given roles that exemplify extremely close to quite similar experiences they’ve had in their own lives. Hill, being bullied at a young age, is now playing the exact same role of those who presented those unfortunate times in his life.
Although able to play the bully role so well to a point where it gets more believable each time it happens, it doesn’t affect his admirable good guy persona in real life, but the memories and element of transitioning back into that place sit still. “Going through that as long as I did gave me something to work for and to work towards. I developed this mindset that people are like this and you can take these experiences people are putting you through and use them. Ironically, playing a bully, I used a lot I learned from life. So going through that phase of being bullied in addition to a lot of other things I’ve experienced, kind of benefited me. It’s just setting aside that bias, and understanding that for this moment it’s my job to tell somebody’s story and be someone else. Sometimes that means I gotta try and understand things that as Terayle I don’t understand, but that this character lives by.”
Tyler Perry’s edgy thriller “Acrimony,” and Greg Berlanti’s romantic-comedy drama “Love, Simon,” are the most recent blockbuster hits Hill has had the opportunity to be apart of. But his line of work carries a versatile string of credits in “A Bad Moms Christmas,” “Star” “Blue Bloods,” BET series “Being Mary Jane” and “Tales” and even diving into digital platforms with the popular YoutubeRED series “Step Up: High Water” & “Cobra Kai” set to release in May (also on YoutubeRED). “It’s great being a part of so many different shows and networks. I booked I think 12 or 13 this past year and that’s a dream come true. There’s so many stories that need to be told. and that’s again why I love creating so much because I have great ideas that nobody’s ever heard or seen yet from me. Being able to be inspired by so many works, no matter what the genre, it’s special to be in the industry where you control the narrative. I think if we take a better responsibility of shedding light on all walks of life in the community and being receptive to other people’s stories, it’ll do nothing but push us forward as a culture.”
“It’s [playing the bully role] just setting aside that bias, and understanding that for this moment, it’s my job to tell somebody’s story and be someone else. Sometimes that means I gotta try and understand things that as Terayle I don’t understand, but that this character lives by.”
Then again, as much as Hill is passionate about being in front of the camera, his love for writing and being behind it grows founder. He’s currently stretching his creativity in a production written and directed by Hill himself entitled “Fatima,” a story centered around educating viewers on the in and outs of foster care and Alzheimers.
Between school, auditions and callbacks, while also working to become as notable of a producer and writer as he is actor, Hill makes it a top priority to find a balance between his personal and professional life.
At the age of 12 Hill began to fight the tough battle of depression. Fortunately, he took pride and gratefulness in allowing himself to get help, something others around him didn’t find evident but he brought to the front line. “I think people just have to want the help they’re asking for. I got pretty honest about my struggle since September of last year and up until January, I was on some form of medication to either help sleep, or to help level myself and it’s never gotten that bad. That speaks to movies and bookings not necessarily translating into a “happy life”. Some people wake up and are blessed with everything they’ve asked for. Some people grew up with everything they’ve asked for and all they want is to book television shows and films, which is why many of my pears couldn’t understand what the hell I had a problem with. People say what they say, “Terayle might be crazy because he’s in therapy.” No, that’s not the case. I know God has me here for a purpose and I can’t be caught up in all the negativity in my head. When that happens, I can’t focus on my ultimate purpose, which is getting the help I need to accomplish what I’m here to do.
With hard work and patience comes great results, and Hill has his goals set high with the hopes of earning his first regular role sometime this year. “I want to know I’m good enough to carry a project. I know I can come in as a supporting role, but am I a leading guy yet? I know I am. I would like to see by the end of the year, if anybody believes in me to be a lead in their show.”
“I think if we take a better responsibility of shedding light on all walks of life in the community, and being receptive to other people’s stories, it’ll do nothing but push us forward as a culture.”
Until then, fans can get ready to see much more of Hill’s prosperity and acting chops in Director X’s highly anticipated summer crime-drama “Superfly,” alongside Trevor Jackson and Jason Mitchell.
Among hitting the grain and jumping into a new character, he’s using his time wisely by committing to his school work, grinding for the red “A” across the paper and reigning black excellence through the timely matter of securing four degrees by 35. “Do not be in a rush for anything. You’re going to stress yourself out trying to battle with God’s plan. Timing is important, but if you sit there and put a timestamp on your greatness as if you’re not going to be great if you don’t make it at a certain time, you’ll stress yourself out to a point where you can’t function. You’re not going to be conscious of the negativity you’re putting on yourself. When your time does come and your card is pulled, you’ll be too salty about how long it took that you mess up on your blessing right there in front of you. Be open and receptive to everything life has to give you. After this masters I want two doctorates but I want those doctorates at a certain time. I know for a fact if I don’t have the degrees on “my time”, it’s because I’m working and making money. I’m okay with that as well.”
“I know God has me here for a purpose and I can’t be caught up in all the negativity in my head. When that happens, I can’t focus on my ultimate purpose, which is getting the help I need to accomplish what I’m here to do.”
If anything, Terayle Hill is a man with a promising plan. His ability to move through God’s time and prioritize his well being while doing so should be impactful to everyone and those climbing each flight to reach their wildest dreams.