Actor Hill Harper visits Landis Performing Arts Center at Riverside City College

By Saida Maalin

Keynote speaker Hill Harper joked about shooting a new movie in Riverside because he wasn’t aware how much the city resembles Los Angeles.

He discussed how anyone interested can get involved in ongoing projects with his nonprofit foundation Manifest Your Destiny and with the production of his movie that could be filmed in Riverside.

Harper took over the Landis Performing Arts Center with his wit and demeanor as he delivered an encouraging dialogue and open conversation on Feb. 27. 

Introduced by Lisa Webb Dean of Student Life as a father, humanitarian, award winning actor, best selling author, entrepeneaur, health and wellness ambassador, educator and philanthropist.

“Hill has always inhabited and excelled in spaces and places where few African Americans have been. He has never forgotten where he came from and has always given back to his community. The positive message he gave was one of hope and inspiration. We all need that now more than ever,” Webb said. 

He analyzed and broke down a quote by Robert Kennedy to begin his empowering speech that motivates and influences productivity. 

“The future does not belong to those who are fearful of all projects and new ideas but rather the future belongs to those who can blend passion, reason and courage into a personal commitment to the great ideals and enterprises of American society,” Harper said.

He continued his speech with an ineractive exercise where everyone was told to take out their phone and construct an email to themselves with the subject line titled “goals and dreams.” 

Harper encouraged the audience through laughter and grace.

Roryana Bowman, Vice President of Ujima said she enjoyed the interactive activity portion of the evening  and how Harper got upclose to the audience rather than remaining on the stage. 

“He put a lot of perspective on things and said it in a way that was tangable and relatable,” Bowman added.

He was a former student of Webb at the Kennedy School of Harvard. 

“He and his roommate were the only African American male students in the Joint Degree Masters of Public Policy Program at the time. He has done amazing work in the business, nonprofit and entertainment arena. His books are New York Times bestsellers. He really gives back to the community. I brought him to speak at another college several years ago and he was inspiring and really connected with the students. I knew our students would enjoy him,” Webb said. 

Megan Bottoms Coordinator of Student Activities moderated the questions session at the end of his speech. 

 Many questions were asked by students and guests that stemmed from previous acting roles to questions asking advice and direction based off of his personal experience.

Harper described how he avoids submitting to self sabotage. 

“The idea of a blueprint is that you have these bigger super objectives within the blueprint. You still have to go to the micro stuff that is the daily routine. The super objective can seem very far away but there is a process in terms of the micro. The micro stuff is in the foundation elements like education, resource building, relationships, networking and faith. All these things are the daily practices that allow you to build towards the bigger super objective. It shouldn’t feel that far away from that standpoint because you’re doing the micro work to get to the macro” Harper said. 

RCC student Daxia Tilghman described Harper’s speech as encouraging and empowering.

“I’m ready to get work done, to focus and to really pursue my passion,”Tilghman said.

Many students left feeling the same, all stirred with eagerness and dedication to take on this upcoming semester. It would be great to have motivational speakers come and speak to students because school can be stressful and hard to balance for many. 

“If it had been better advertised by the school, more than just posters then it may have encouraged more people to go,” Daxia added.

There are several events coming up at Riverside City College for students. On March 25 from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Digital Library Auditorium, Eduardo Chavez will be showing a film about his grandfather Cesar Chavez and after that there will be a discussion held.