Baltimore School for the Arts alumna Rachel Hilson is preparing for an exciting year.
She’s playing a high school student named Harmony Curtis in the upcoming NBC musical drama “Rise,” which premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, and she will star in the film “Kings” alongside Halle Berry and Daniel Craig, which premieres nationwide in April.
“Mama, I made it,” Hilson said during a phone interview with The Baltimore Sun.
The current New York University student, who studies race, politics and theater at the university’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, credited her time at Baltimore School for the Arts for helping her come out of her shell and preparing her to take on the role of “Rise’s” Harmony, which required her to sing and act. These days, Hilson, who also has a background in dance, is a triple-threat.
“I’ve always kind of been a little bit shy, and I think theater was a way to open me up. It was an easy segue from dance, because I think with dance you use your body to convey a story. With theater you use your whole body, but you also use your voice,” said Hilson, who contributed to “Rise’s” soundtrack. Four songs — produced by Atlantic records — have already been released on iTunes and Spotify.
The show follows a group of students and a teacher (played by Josh Radnor) as he aims to revive his high school theater department. Though Hilson couldn’t divulge many details about the show, she said her character Harmony appears in all 10 episodes, but doesn’t have much of a storyline.
“She’s trying to find her voice,” Hilson added with a laugh. (The trailer shows Hilson as Harmony humorously singing off tune during what appears to be an audition.)
Nonetheless, “Rise,” has been an exciting experience. Hilson said it reminds her of her time at BSA.
“I didn't know how publicized [the show] would be. It’s a special thing to be a part of something that I kind of grew up doing,” said Hilson, who also had a reoccurring role in CBS drama “The Good Wife” as a high school sophomore.
Later this year, Hilson , 22, takes on another role in “Kings,” a film about the Los Angeles race riots set in the days leading up to the official verdict of the Rodney King trial. She plays Nicole, a troubled teen from South Central L.A., alongside Berry, who plays a foster mother.
Hilson described her experience on “Kings” — which will be released nationwide April 27 — as both fun and, at times, nerve-wracking, especially being among Hollywood A-listers like Berry and Craig. Hilson said she nearly fainted when meeting Berry. At the same time, she was having an allergic reaction to some makeup she was wearing.
“I told her about this the first day I met her, because I’m awkward,” Hilson said, and days later, Berry left a facial kit for her.
“I had just met her. That just demonstrates her character.”
Ultimately, Hilson called the experience a “dream come true.”
“Lots of long days, but I absolutely think it'll turn out to be a very special film that a lot of people connect to,” she said.
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