Profile: Eric Talley II

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Twenty-something Eric H. Talley II, on his path to becoming a full-time Performing Artist surmises: “I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time because I gained serious knowledge, skills and experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life.�

After partaking in many teaching positions throughout the tri-state area, Eric could not pass up the chance to perform the role of “Jimâ€? in the national tour of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.â€? “I was nervous about what would happen afterwards,â€? he says of the 80 show tour with a Philadelphia based production company. “I’d be living fabulously for four months and then what,â€? a dilemma that is always met with mixed emotions when making the transition from working a typical 9-to- 5 to assuming the exciting role of a true Performing Artist-one who relies solely on his artistic talents for financial stability. That was the turning point in February 2005, which persuaded him to quit his job as an Executive Director of ABACA, which stands for Arts Benefit All Coalition Alternative, a “second chanceâ€? program that helps troubled students learn their core curriculum through visual and performing arts. But he has no regrets, after completing the tour he landed the role of teenage ‘Eddie’ in “The Apple Corpsâ€? a musical teaching elementary children safety precautions and so far the gigs keep coming in. He just signed a contract for an NBC on-line comedy show called “Out of Context,â€? an “In Living Colorâ€? meets “Saturday Night Liveâ€? type of show where he plays the flamboyantly gay, man-on-the-street reporter, Marvin.  But life has not always seemed so promising, there were many years in between that acting work was not abundant.

Raised in Romolus, Michigan, Eric’s dual parent household shared a remote interest in the arts, but no one ever thought about pursuing it as a career. His father san in the church choir while his younger sister lends her skills to its dance ministry but it was a music aptitude test that declared Eric was exceptionally gifted. He went on to learn all brass and wind instruments including his favorite the flute from elementary school all the way up to college where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Michigan. He then ventured to New York to become a professional musician, but like many artists, the dues of living in the city took its toll and he found himself working as an assistant in international education more and performing a lot less—for 5 years to be exact. When an occasional performance with the Harlem Festival Orchestra just wasn’t enough he applied for a fellowship in African-American Theatre at Wayne State University in Detroit.  He had previously taken a few business and acting courses but he loved performing on stage the most so a free ride back to class didn’t seem too shabby. After a potential student turned down the fellowship offer Eric moved off the waiting list to the head of the class.  It was here that he learned to act and produce African-American plays including “Black Nativityâ€? by Langston Hughes starring the soulful Stephanie Mills. He was in charge of all aspects of the production from hiring staff to filling the 2,000 seated arena. After receiving his Masters in 1998 he was more than prepared to return to New York and make a living in musical theatre—but again reality called and “BILLâ€? had to be paid. He worked as a Community Outreach Director of an arts education program at Yale School of Drama that taught youths how to write and perform their own plays but his own itch to perform never left. In his free time he played the flute in the local traveling gospel group Psalm 150, that he still belongs to today.

“The goal has always been to become a full-time Performing Artist and hallelujah, I’m here,� he exclaims as he ponders on the paths he has traveled to get there. But he wonders how much farther in life he would be if he had parents who pushed him to be successful in this career. “You always have to look at the race card and the effects of racism on a broader scale,� he says as he takes a moment to dwell on his parents’ generation of Blacks who were pushed to learn a trade instead of going to college. He believes this trickle down effect of racism is still affecting him today because it limited the support and the exposure to the arts his parents could have given him. “Them babies are fresh out of Undergrad,� he scoffs at his current competitors who were encouraged to follow a straight path to Broadway. “But I don’t let that hold me back cuz I’m still gonna do what I have to do,� he says of his short term goal to act in a TV sitcom and a national commercial. His ultimate goal is to bring everything he has learned and experienced to the forefront by producing and starring in his own African-American musicals.

Come see his portrayal of both Rosa Parks’ husband and grandfather in “Rosa’s Ride, a celebration of the legendary life of Rosa Parks. This musical will debut in NYC and tour the east coast from January 16 to the end of March. 

For more information contact Eric H. Talley II at 917-386-3194 or via e-mail at

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