Hills Grad Climbs Acting Ladder

By Janee Law

jlaw@longislandergroup.com

Joshua DeJesus, a Half Hollow Hills High School West grad, is climbing up the ladder in his journey as an actor. He was recently featured in NBC hit drama “Chicago Fire.” (Photo by Theresa Schaefer-Bell).

Joshua DeJesus, a Half Hollow Hills High School West grad, is climbing up the ladder in his journey as an actor. He was recently featured in NBC hit drama “Chicago Fire.” (Photo by Theresa Schaefer-Bell).

When Dix Hills resident Joshua DeJesus found out in August that he landed a principal role in an episode of NBC hit drama “Chicago Fire,” he was speechless.

“I dreamed all my life for that moment,” DeJesus, 18, said. When I got the call, my first instinct was to call my mother to tell her. I was so thankful to God and to my family for believing in me.”

The Half Hollow Hills High School West graduate said he auditioned for the role in August flew out to Chicago days after he landed the part to film the episode, which is titled “Scorched Earth.”

In the episode, which aired Oct. 25, DeJesus portrays Chris Brady, a troubled teen who has been abandoned and forced to live in a sewer and befriends firefighter Stella Kidd (played by Miranda Rae Mayo).

DeJesus, who was actively involved in Hills West’s theater productions as a student, said he found the experience “incredibly enriching and forthcoming.”

“The amount of patience that the cast and the crew had with someone new to the television and film world was incredible,” DeJesus said. “They provided me with insight and knowledge and things that I’m going to need to know while in this business, and they were just amazing to work with. I’ll cherish that experience for the rest of my life.”

Although he grew up with a passion for singing and dancing, performing in school choirs and musicals, DeJesus said he began developing a love for the craft of acting in high school.

“That’s when I really developed a love for the craft,” he said. “I had found a very deep connection with the art of acting and how personal it could be.”

Each play he performed in came with a different experience, but all had one thing in common, he added.

“I really liked the text, reading the script, saying the lines and interpreting the lines in different ways,” he said. “That’s what really drew my attention.”

When thinking about how much he’s grown as an actor from high school, during which he also attended Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts as a senior, DeJesus said the need to continue his growth only increases.

He said, “I’m just looking to see how I’m able to grow and how I’m able to learn from my mistakes or apply what I’m learning now in school and my training to my work.”

Now, DeJesus, who is a freshman in the Conservatory of Theater Arts program at SUNY Purchase College, where he is majoring in acting.

His current goal is to focus on his training, working towards the longevity of his career, he said.

"I want to use my art to change the world," DeJesus said. "We need to make statements through theater, television, and film and I want to make some kind of impact on society and the issues that are currently happening through my art."