By Kam Williams Sentinel Contributing Writer Erica Hubbard the “Let’s Stay Together” Interview Talented, gorgeous and “The Girl Next Door” are words used to describe Erica Hubbard. Born in Chicago on January 2, 1979, the versatile actress has been lighting up the big and small screens with her contagious and enticing smile for the past seven years and can now be seen as one of the leads on Let’s Stay Together, the eagerly-anticipated, original comedy produced for the BET Network, which debuted earlier this month. Erica knew at the tender age of nine that she wanted to be an actress after performing in her first stage play. Never giving up on her dream, she attended Columbia College in Chicago where she majored in Broadcast Journalism, minored in Theater and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in just three years! After graduating, Erica landed coveted leads in TV commercials in national campaigns for such companies as McDonald's, MCI, Reebok, Sears and Noxzema, to name a few. Next, she decided to take her talents to Hollywood where she found work almost immediately.Erica’s motion picture credits include, Save the Last Dance, A Cinderella Story, Light It Up, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Akeelah and the Bee. And her TV credits include guest-starring roles on such hits as “CSI: Miami,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” and “Cold Case.” She was also a series regular and the voice of Abbey on the animated series “The Replacements.” In addition, she recently wrapped four successful seasons on the NAACP Image Award-winning, critically-acclaimed family drama “Lincoln Heights.”When not acting, Erica is deeply involved in her philanthropic work, such as volunteering for charitable organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of America and serving as the Executive Director of The Erica Hubbard Foundation, a non-profit which visits schools, community centers and youth organizations to help at-risk, inner-city kids deal with low self-esteem and poverty. In her free time, Erica loves hanging out with her best friend, her rescued Chihuahua, Winnie. And she enjoys learning sign language, taking dance classes, hiking and traveling.SENTINEL: Hi Erica, thanks for the interview.Erica Hubbard: Thank you, Kam. I appreciate you interviewing me. SENTINEL: What interested you in Let’s Stay Together? EH: I love picking projects that make history such as Let's Stay Together and Lincoln Heights. ABC Family and BET Networks developed a television series based on African-American relationships both for the first time. I love being involved in groundbreaking projects! SENTINEL: Tell me a little about the show.EH: Let's Stay Together is a comedy set in Atlanta, Georgia that has an ensemble cast following the lives of a married couple, an engaged couple and a single woman. Each of the lives portrayed in Let's Stay Together goes through its ups and downs, being in relationships as well as looking for love. SENTINEL: How would you describe your character, Kita?EH: Kita Whitmore is a single, sassy, outspoken, and a fun-loving girl who works at the DMV. She lives by herself and is taking a break from men until she finds the right relationship to pursue. In the meantime, Kita is always giving advice to others on what they should do in their relationships. SENTINEL: Are you more like Kita or Cassie Sutton, the character you played on Lincoln Heights?EH: I have personality traits of both Kita from Let's Stay Together as well as Cassie from Lincoln Heights. I use life experiences of situations I have been through to bring my roles to life. I think a person can have many different ways to express their personality depending on the situation they are dealing with at that moment. Also, I never want to be a one-dimensional actress who portrays the same lifestyle in all her roles because I love being versatile. In the film A Cinderella Story I played a Valley Girl, but then in Akeelah and the Bee I was a single-mom from the city. I studied theater at Columbia College and we were trained to study and to portray all different types of characters and personalities. SENTINEL: What’s it like going from Lincoln Heights, a dramatic series, to a sitcom? What challenges did you face in portraying a DMV Employee?
EH: I really love to do comedy and drama regardless if I 'm in a stage play or in a TV Series. I enjoy all genres of programming. As a matter of fact, when I was doing the pilot for Let's Stay Together, I was also filming the season finale of the CBS-TV series Cold Case in which I was being shot and killed during the episode. I love both working in emotional stories and in stories that make people laugh. SENTINEL: What message do you think people will take away from Let’s Stay Together? EH: The message I hope everyone will take from watching Let's Stay Together is that we need to stick with each other in the good times and the bad times, and to love each other and truly care about one another in our relationships. There is a saying that I think is so true: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” SENTINEL: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? EH: I usually have to bring up the fact that I love being involved in my community, volunteering or donating. Recently, I formed The Erica Hubbard Foundation and my charity work is so important to my life. I really encourage everyone to get involved with any charity and please give back to your community. SENTINEL: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?EH: Yes, I am afraid at times about our nature and the world we live in, dealing with Global Warming. This year I have seen and heard stories of tragedy that relate to our climate change. Although it is not good to live in worry, I am concerned about Global Warming and how it is affecting our Earth. SENTINEL: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?EH: Yes, the majority of the time I am happy, because I woke me up to bring cheer to someone that day. I love joking around and making people smile as well as laugh. Laughter is medicine for our souls. Life is precious and short so we all should live in joy as much as we can. SENTINEL: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?EH: I just had a good laugh talking with my friend before the interview. My advice to everyone is try laughing as much as you can every day and watch how much positivity will flow throughout your life. You will be amazed on how great your day will turn out if you laugh a lot throughout your life. SENTINEL: What is your guiltiest pleasure?EH: My guiltiest pleasure would be any kind of sweets either candy, cookies, pies or cakes. SENTINEL: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read? EH: The last book I read was, "The Richest Man in Town: The Twelve Commandments of Wealth” which shares the inside secrets of America's self-made millionaires.” SENTINEL: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod? EH: I listen to all different types of music from R&B, Soul, Rap, Hip-Hop, Country, Gospel, Jazz to Reggae. If a song has a great upbeat message, I will listen to it to get my day started in a positive fashion. SENTINEL: What is your favorite dish to cook?EH: My favorite dish to cook is lasagna. SENTINEL: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?EH: My favorite clothes designer is Versace. SENTINEL: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?EH: When I look in the mirror, I see God's love! SENTINEL: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for? EH: My one wish, if I could have it granted instantly is that there would be world peace with everyone forever! SENTINEL: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory? EH: My earliest childhood memory is from preschool, singing in a Christmas pageant. SENTINEL: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do? EH: I love inspiring everyone to be successful and encouraging people to keep dreaming toward their success. SENTINEL: The “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: Where in L.A. do you live?EH: I live in the Valley. SENTINEL: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?EH: My fans can help me by writing letters to me, by watching my TV series or movies, by visiting me at Facebook or Twitter to say hello. I truly love the support from fans! SENTINEL: The Zane Question: Do you have any regrets?EH: I try not to focus on regrets or ponder on them because it drains your positive energy. SENTINEL: The Dulé Hill question. Do you think that the success you’ve achieved in your career is because of you, because of a higher power, or because of a mixture of both? EH: Most definitely I believe the result of my success I have achieved is from a Higher Power. I know being obedient to God and Him using me to make a difference in my community is why I am successful. SENTINEL: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?EH: The biggest obstacle that I had to overcome is being on unemployment and finding the willpower to put in the work to make a great salary by hard work and dedication. SENTINEL: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?EH: I pray and meditate a lot to get through tough times. SENTINEL: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list? EH: #1: Dr. Martin Luther King. #2: Gandhi. #3: Mother Theresa. #4: President Obama. #5: Nelson Mandela. #6: Oprah. SENTINEL: The Dr. Cornel West question: What price are you willing to pay for a cause that is bigger than your own self interest?EH:I am willing to keep breaking Hollywood barriers to show my community to prove the point that any one of you can be successful with years of perseverance through difficulties and determination. I encourage everyone to be strong no matter what your situation is and remember as the saying goes, "Success is a journey, not a destination." SENTINEL: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?EH: The advice I give anyone following my footsteps is get advice and support from a mentor who is a working professional in the entertainment industry. SENTINEL: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be, and where are you in relation to that at this point in your life?EH: I want my legacy to be remembered as someone that cared about by their community through my charity involvement as well as my work onscreen, entertaining the masses. SENTINEL: Thanks again for the time, Erica, and best of luck with the new show.EH: Thank you, Kam, and Happy New Year!