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Hill Harper On 'CSI: NY', Spike Lee, & Financial Advice

(CBS Local)-- Actor Hill Harper was a mainstay on CBS for almost a decade.

Harper played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on "CSI: NY" and Spelman Boyle on the short lived series "Limitless." The actor's time on CBS played an important role in shaping his career and life.

"Limitless was a funny show and it was doing well and was a little bit quarky," said Harper in an interview with CBS Local. "All of us were really surprised when that show didn't get picked up. I love CBS, I was on this network for nine years. Even before that, I did a show for CBS called 'City of Angels' with Blair Underwood, Gabrielle Union, Vivica Fox, and Viola Davis. It was her [Vivica's] first show, it was a great cast and it was fun. I played a young surgeon in that show."

The Sit Down: Hill Harper by CBS Local News on YouTube

In addition to his work on the screen, Harper is also leading a conversation around the country about financial empowerment. The former CBS star is teaming up with Experian and its Boost America campaign to help people lower their credit scores and learn more about their finances. Harper learned the value of a dollar from his grandparents.

"My grandfather Harold Hill, who I'm named after, was a pharmacist in a very small town in South Carolina. During Jim Crow segregation, he was the only Africa-American pharmacist where black folks could go to get their prescription," said Harper. "People couldn't afford their prescription and they would come in and trade chicken and potatoes for it. He was all about community empowerment as a small business owner. He taught me about responsibility and about how to use money. You earn it, keep it, save it and use it to try to make your family's life better and your community's life better."

While Harper has had many great experiences in his career, one of his favorites remains the time he spent with Spike Lee and Denzel Washington in "He Got Game." Harper had worked with Lee before, but this movie gave him a whole new appreciation for the newly crowned Oscar winner.

"One of my favorite movies, I loved shooting that," said Harper. "It was my second time shooting with Spike Lee, I had done 'Get On The Bus' with him. That was so much fun and a little bit of heartbreak. There were all these scenes I shot that got cut out. There is one scene, which is one my favorite scenes that I've shot in my career that got cut out. It's Ray Allen and I walking on the beach and I do a long monologue where my character says I've been living in your shadow and it's been ruining my life. The studio wanted to keep all the scenes with Denzel in the hotel and those were long. That's part of life. You do things that you love, you give it away and you don't have control. You control the moment."

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