‘Love, Victor’ Star Rachel Hilson’s Secret to Success? Eternal Curiosity

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Photo Source: Jonny Marlow

The following Career Dispatches essay was written by Rachel Hilson, who stars on Hulu’s “Love, Victor,” now streaming.

I wanted to be a lot of different things as a kid. For one stretch, it was a surgeon. I performed regular surgeries on my very patient parents. Then, it was an astronaut. I would pretend I was Mae Jemison (first Black female astronaut—look her up) and float my arms out like I was in space. I moved onto news anchor. There’s a VHS somewhere in my parents’ attic of a 6 or 7-year-old Rachel reporting on the current events of the early 2000s. I then moved onto author, writing and illustrating several printer-paper books. For the longest stretch, I wanted to be a dancer. I dedicated my life to Nutcrackers, spring recitals, dance camps, and enacting Zoe Saldana’s character “Eva” from “Center Stage.” One summer, my mom encouraged me to go to a new camp—a Broadway camp called Broadway Artists Alliance in NYC. 

I auditioned for the dance division of the camp, however, they also made me read sides and sing a song. The next day, I got a call from the camp director, who was reaching out on behalf of one of their affiliated agents. Nancy Carson of Carson Adler Agency (who would go onto be my agent for 10 years!) needed a young Black dancer under 5 feet to go to Iceland to film some dance episodes for the show “LazyTown.” A few days later, I went to Iceland with my mom, learned a bunch of moves, performed them in a pink wig and pink clothes in front of a green screen, climbed a volcano, and left 10 days later. I signed with Nancy a few months after that. 

From there, I auditioned and was accepted to the dance and theater programs of the Baltimore School for the Arts. I decided to take a chance on acting and enrolled in theater. Because I was still living in Baltimore, my mom and I would take the bus or train up to New York every so often for auditions. We were encouraged when I booked my first two—one a short film and the other a recurring guest spot on “The Good Wife” as Nisa del Mar (don’t be fooled: it was likely a sweet case of beginner’s luck; rejection galore quickly ensued!).

Since then, I’ve played a lot of parts, both onstage and screen as well as in real life, taking time to pursue other interests when the feeling or curiosity strikes. I’ve been (in no particular order) a married woman, an athlete, a babysitter, a teacher, a farmer, a bread salesman, a college student, an old woman, an old man, a playwright, a high schooler, a receptionist, a gardener, and the list goes on. What I’ve realized is that taking on all of these different roles, whether as Rachel or as another character, has set me up to be a better human and artist. 

Curiosity has made me a better empath. While acting is now my primary career, I’m still trying on different hats. I’m not much different than the little girl who played doctor or news anchor with her parents. As actors—as artists—we have the privilege of being so many things, and I hope that the fear of missing out on a “big break” doesn't deter anyone from following their curiosities. I encourage us all to make time for them, for they can only make us better.

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