THE BOARDWALKER: A SIT DOWN WITH ERIK LARAY HARVEY

Erik Laray Harvey is a man in the know. Cutting a compelling figure, this seasoned and versatile talent gives New York City a good name. Starring as Dunn Purnsley in HBO’s hit drama BOARDWALK EMPIRE, Laray Harvey has carved out an enviable path of challenge and artistic triumph.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE STAR: ERIK LARAY HARVEY

THE RUNDOWN

HOMETOWN: Washington, DC

FIRST TASTE OF ACTING: As a child, I remember seeing a matinee of the WIZ one afternoon after church. I was so mesmerized by all the lights, costumes, music, dance, and the story that I was instantly hooked on theatre and its ability to transport one to a world of fantasy.

THE GREAT ESCAPE: I grew up in various countries in Africa, and I’ve missed the continent ever since. I’ve always longed to return to a previous country I’ve been to or perhaps a new country I never visited. Either way, the sun, the land, the people have always intrigued and fascinated me.

ACTOR THAT MOST INFLUENCED YOU: Sidney Poitier

GUILTY PLEASURE: Ice cream

BEST FILM HANDS DOWN EVER: The Color Purple/ The Madness of King George

DREAM DINNER GUEST: Jack Johnson

YOU’D BE SURPRISED TO KNOW I…speak -French.

MOMENT YOU’D RELIVE IF YOU COULD: Winning Gold Medals at a Track and Field Championship meet.

YOU – IN 3 WORDS: Dedicated. Determined. Decisive

ERIK LARAY HARVEY PLAYS DUNN PURNSLEY

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: Was acting always the dream?

ERIK LARAY HARVEY: Acting wasn’t always the dream. Very early on, I wanted to be a -dentist. I held on to that belief up until -college.

HM: You hail from New York University’s prestigious School-of-Drama. Do the lessons learned there still resonate today?

ELH: Very much so. NYU is where I first received any sort of formal lessons. I soaked it all up like a sponge. To this day, I can call upon lessons learned, to help me through the technical as well as the emotional requirements needed to support me in what I do.

HM: What was the role that made you say, ‘Yes…now I feel like an actor!’

ELH: I remember doing a production of My Children…My Africa, at Yale Rep; and LOVING every second of it! It was one of my first gigs and though it was challenging, it was so fulfilling. I was allowed to use a lot of my life experiences growing up in Africa, but also encounter some new vibrations, tackling this character. It was a LIFE’S JOURNEY.

HM: You are based in New York. What does the energy of the city bring to you?

ELH: New York City…what can I say, except, I absolutely LOVE IT! This city and its inhabitants are really one and the same. Each support the other. There’s so much life in this city. It keeps moving on. And as I look up into the city, at all these enormous skyscrapers, it keeps reminding me to stand tall, as tall as the Empire State Building and as tall as One World Trade Center…This is the energy of New York City.

ERIK LARAY HARVEY AT BOARDWALK EMPIRE SCREENING

HM: Let’s talk about Boardwalk Empire. What has it been like being a part of such a
successful show? Do you guys pinch yourselves?

ELH: I’m so grateful to be a part of the show, I’m pinching myself right now…Seriously, it’s a wonderful show, inspired by wonderful people and every minute of it has and continues to be an absolute joy.

HM: You play Dunn Purnsley on the show. Tell me about Dunn and what makes him tick.

ELH: Dunn Purnsley is a very loveable guy, don’t you think? He’s honest, hard-working, much an opportunist (like anyone else), he loves, he laughs…just don’t piss him off!

HM: How did you approach playing him?

ELH: I always approach any character I play with some basic questions. Where is the character
coming from? What does the character say? What does the character want? After I established that, I could then “color him in” so to speak. One thing I found fascinating about Dunn Purnsley, was his lack of fear. He is fearless.

HM: Best moment so far on the Boardwalk set…

ELH: Every day has been the best. But I will say that some of the best times on set have been the times of laughter. Man, sometimes, out of no-where, something or someone has us all in stitches!

HM: If you close your eyes, where do you picture yourself in say 5 years?

ELH: With eyes wide open. Someone asked me that one day before I graduated from grad school and needless to say…

BOARDWALK EMPIRE RETURNS TO HBO, SUNDAY SEPT. 18, 9 PM.

IMAGES COURTESY OF ROGERS & COWAN.

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