Michigan State University
Michigan State University
College of Arts and Letters Logo
Department of Theatre
Department of Theatre



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ernest Harden Jr. Alum Photo

Meet Ernest Harden Jr.

Major and degree earned: B.A. in Theatre
Graduation year: 1974
Current role: Actor of stage and screen, Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Now living in: Los Angeles, CA

Why did you choose Michigan State University?

It sort of chose me. My best friend from high school was the star basketball player at the time. He insisted that I come to MSU and become his roommate. He arranged everything with the school. He had that much power. So here I was at MSU staying in Wonders dorm with him as a roommate.

How did Michigan State University help you prepare for your career? 

The first thing that I did when I arrived at MSU was to go to the Theatre Department and see if I could audition and get into a play. To be honest there wasn't a lot of Black theatre at the time. The first play that I was cast in at State was a "Funny Thing Happen on the Way to the Forum". If I learned nothing else… the one thing from my college experienced: Practice Makes Perfect. The more you do something… the better you will become at it. It also helped to have some great teachers as well. (smile).

What was the most memorable experience at Michigan State University?

I cherished my days at MSU. I started off in some of the rough streets of Detroit. My parents both graduated college in the south, yet we weren't blessed to move to a better area in the city until I was about to graduate high school. So I was very happy to be in an environment like MSU where I didn't have to constantly look over my shoulder. I had great friends and great teachers. I will never forget my time there.

What advice do you have for today’s students?

Work on your craft. Stay focused on your goal. Believe in your talent and who you are. No one can be a better you than you and remember you can't get to the other side unless you take the first step.

Photo from your time at MSU:

First Headshot at MSU

First Headshot from MSU 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum Photo

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1972-1973 Season)


Ernest Harden on the Radio at MSU

Ernest Harden Jr. on the Radio at MSU


Portfolio Samples:


Ernest Harden Jr in Fan Magazine

 Ernest Harden Fr. in FAN MAGAZINE (April 1980) 


Ernest Harden Jr in White Mama

 Ernest Harden Jr. in White Mama with Bette Davis (1980) 
Ernest Harden Jr in The Jefferesons
 Ernest Harden Jr. in The Jeffersons (100th Taping)


Ernest Harden Jr. has starred in many movie roles in such well known films such as ‘White Man Can’t Jump’, ‘Skins’, ‘Out on Parole’, ‘The Final Terror’, ‘White Mama’ with Bette Davis, ‘Roots-The Gift’, and ‘Atlanta Child Murders’. He also played supporting roles in ‘The Exorcism’ and ‘The Real Deal’. In addition he held featured roles in such films as Sidney Pollack’s ‘Three Days of The Condor’, Martin Scorses’ ‘Taxi Driver’, Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’,and Woody Allen’s ‘The Front’. His television career has also been most notable to start with he was a regular for four season on ‘The Jeffersons’,‘The Buffalo Soldiers’, ‘V’, ‘The Insiders’, and ‘The Robert Guillaume Show’. Last but not least, he have also appeared on stage most recently in ‘Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies’ directed by TJ Castronovo and written by Joni Ravenna, which examines the true story of Kabin Thomas, a University of Arkansas music professor who was fired for using profanity in the classroom.

Anything else you might like to add:

I am so happy to be coming back to MSU, the place where it all started for me, performing my show and doing what I love to do!


Interested in being featured in the MSU Department of Theatre Alumni Profile Series? Click here!