When you need inspiration, who you gonna call? Hollywood actor Ernie Hudson, of course, whose role as one of the original Ghostbusters accounts for just a sliver of his long-standing career on stage and screen. His success came after overcoming major challenges at an early age. Hudson grew up in the housing projects of Benton Harbor, Michigan; he never knew his father, and his mother died of tuberculosis when he was three months old. “I didn’t have a mom or dad, but I was fortunate to have my grandmother, who gave me an unquestionable sense of stability and love,” he says. “I realized the important thing was having a support system, someone to let you know that you’re loved and are going to be okay.” Hudson will be the keynote speaker at the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s Youth of the Year celebration on March 1 in Naples.
NI: What was one of the most memorable moments in your acting career?
Hudson: My role as Jack Johnson in “The Great White Hope.” We did it at the Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis, and it really changed the trajectory of my life, which would have been very different had I not done that show. I got many film and TV roles from that. And, of course, my involvement in Ghostbusters. I still get recognized for that role 30 years later, and now I’m at that age where I can really appreciate fans of the series.
NI: What was the best piece of advice your grandmother gave you?
Hudson: She would say, “Don’t ask God to move the mountain, just ask for a different way of seeing it.” From the right perspective, it might not be a mountain—it might even be something that inspires you instead.
NI: What advice do you have for disadvantaged kids?
Hudson: You’re not your circumstances; those change. The possibilities are endless. Just believe and trust the people who are there to help. They might not be a parent; they might be a counselor or a friend, but once you know what you want to do, all those people are just waiting to help you succeed.