When it was time for Philly native Eric Carter to go to high school, his mother told him to decide which of three schools he wanted to attend. The choice was easy for him.
“Roman Catholic High School for Boys was the first one and I quickly dismissed it because I knew I didn’t want to go to an all-boys school,” Carter admits. ”The second was Central, and I knew that wasn’t for me. And the third was CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts High School), and that’s the one I picked.”
Carter says he hadn’t planned on becoming an actor, but in the eighth grade he was cast in a Christmas show and found he enjoyed it. “My mom was surprised that I chose CAPA but she just wanted me to go to a good school, and CAPA is a very good school. And it’s the one I was pulled towards,” Carter recalls.
And all these years later, turns out he chose correctly.
“I think fate stepped in, and I’m starting to believe the energy in the universe that sort of guides you toward what you’re supposed to be doing. I made the choice to go, and after auditioning, fate allowed me to get in, and while there I was taught by my mentor, Mel Williams. He not only taught me the art of acting, but as a 14-year-old kid, he taught me how to be a man and how to survive in this world.”
By the time Carter was in the 12th grade and about to graduate, he felt he had learned most of what he needed to learn — about acting and about being a man — and was ready to face the world. He next attended the University of the Arts but after just one year had to leave because he simply ran out of money.
“But I continued to take acting classes here and there, and started building my acting skills by working with people I admired. When I look back, I strongly believe you don’t necessarily need a degree in order to succeed or to be good. But you do need it if you want to teach, something I always wanted to do and do do today at various places.”
And while he was building his skills, Carter performed in many productions. For example, not long ago he portrayed Martin Luther King for Erie Theatre Company. And today, through March 22, “Under the Bonnet” continues at various venues throughout the area with Carter playing Frederick Douglass in the Beacon Theatre Productions.
According to Carter, while the play concentrates on anti-slavery activist Lucretia Mott, we get to know her better through her interactions with Douglass, a brilliant writer and orator.
“I never try to imitate these characters I play,” Carter explains. “There’s a certain quality in each person that I try to capture. And I just try to bring everything together to bring the character alive for the audience.”
And this actor would like the audience to come away with the idea of one common cause. He says, “It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, gray or green. If we all come together and work as one, then we can accomplish many different things. You know, if you’re separated, you’re weaker. It has to be equality for all.”
After this, Carter is working on a piece up in New York. He says he’s happiest when he just keeps working. One role he hasn’t done but would love to do one day is “Raisin in the Sun,” a play “that speaks to all of me. It’s about a dream deferred, fighting for a dream, a passion, and trying to reach it. And that’s what I do every day of my life.”