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Lights, Camera, Icon: Ernie Hudson’s Next Act

“This is the first shoot that I’ve been a part of with an all-Black staff, I never saw that before." Those were the words uttered by Hollywood icon Ernie Hudson during our Turned Gentleman shoot, reflecting on the longevity of his career, where he often found himself as the only Black man on sets.

Ghostbusters - Ernie Hudson
Suit: Dapper 7 | Footwear: Giuseppe | Turtle neck: Coofandy

Now, the Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire star is actively contributing to the change in Hollywood by helming Black-led shows such as The Family Business. With a career spanning close to five decades, Hudson's legacy status is finding a new audience with the next chapter in the Ghostbusters film franchise.

“I love stories. We learn from them. We are inspired by them,” Hudson says about his career. “I love being a storyteller.” 

Through his artistry, Hudson has embodied roles that showcased his strength and roles that highlighted his vulnerability. From classic shows such as Little House on the Prairie to cultural-shifting films such as Lakawana Blues, Hudson has been a chameleon on screen.

Ghostbusters - Ernie Hudson
Tux & Bow Tie: Paul Smith | Shirt: Joseph Abboud | Footwear: Florsheim

In 1984, the Yale School of Drama alum was forever immortalized into pop culture with the phenomenon known as Ghostbusters. Starring alongside other Hollywood mainstays Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, Ghostbusters went on to earn two Academy Award nominations and helped launch countless pop culture references. With 30 years between the first film and its latest iteration, Hudson has witnessed an ever-evolving industry, experiencing both the good and the bad.

“Like most things in America, Hollywood has stayed the same, which is driven by money,” Hudson explains. “It has changed in terms of diversity and the stories,” he continues. “Even if you go back 20 years, I couldn’t have imagined the diversity I am seeing in front of and even behind the camera,” Hudson describes the changes in Hollywood. 

Ghostbusters - Ernie Hudson
Houndstooth: Suited by Dutch | Shirt: Calvin Klein | Footwear: Marc Nolan

It has been a little over 20 years since Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress, yet she remains the only Black woman to have won in this category. No Black male director has won the Oscar for Best Director, and no Black woman has ever been nominated in this category. With nearly 100 years since its establishment, the Oscars ceremony continues to highlight the uphill battle faced by marginalized groups in Hollywood when it comes to receiving accolades. At the 2024 Oscars, writer/director Cord Jefferson was awarded Best Adapted Screenplay for his work, American Fiction. Like many others who have the opportunity to address Hollywood's shortcomings, Jefferson also spoke out, highlighting the importance of the stories we tell and criticizing Hollywood's perception of the Black community.

“It is important that we show our humanity,” Hudson says about Black storytelling and what Hollywood greenlights. The actor emphasizes the importance of telling our own stories, citing Hollywood's perception of us as the reason why certain narratives continue to be pushed.

“Those of us who live in these communities know that these stories are not the only stories or necessarily hold the most truth, but that is what they see,” Hudson says. When we start telling our own stories, the world will begin to see us as complete human beings, not interpreted by someone else.

Ghostbusters - Ernie Hudson

The Benton Harbor, Michigan native knows all about representation and creating what we see from theater to television to film. Hudson wrote short stories, poems, and songs growing up, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest Black theater in the country. In addition, he enrolled at Wayne State University to further develop his writing and acting skills and found time to establish the Actors' Ensemble Theatre, where he and other talented young Black writers directed and appeared in their works. After graduating with a B.A. from Wayne State, he was awarded a full scholarship to the M.F.A. program at the prestigious Yale School of Drama.

Working on his craft has helped Hudson build a career that other actors aspire to. His longevity is the reason why he can still enjoy moments in his career where the iconic role of Winston Zeddmore resonates with die-hard fans.

“The extraordinary thing about Ghostbusters is after 40 years, people are still wearing the jumpsuits, they are still singing the theme song… and I am very happy to be a part of it,” Hudson says.

Fans will see Hudson’s character evolve in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, a journey the actor is grateful to embark on.

“A studio has chosen to take the character Winston from a guy who was just looking for a job [In the first film], to allow him to grow. He's been very successful. Now, he owns the Ghostbusters enterprise, and he's researching and creating ways to take it forward,” Hudson says about his character. “For me, it's just great to see the character not only get older but to really grow to mature and to be accountable.” 

Ghostbusters - Ernie Hudson

With audiences eagerly waiting for another season of The Family Business and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire hitting theaters on March 22, Hudson’s icon status is being highlighted by admirers and peers. 

"When I was a kid, I was told to trust in God… I do think you have to trust the universe. I do think that we're called to do certain things, and when we know how to do better, we can be guided to what we need to be. You can trust that."

Ernie Hudson is a living icon whose talent has kept him thriving and his passion has kept him hungry for more.

Check out the full interview.

Photographer: Corey Guevarra for CYOER Photo

Creative Director: BYoungAgency

Styling Assistants: Ronald Jeffries, Joseph Mcrae

Grooming: Carol McColley


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