Dulé Hill stars as Burton ‘Gus’ Guster on the USA Network series “Psych,” which airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST. Best known for his work as Charlie Young on “The West Wing,” Hill first came to prominence as The Kid opposite Savion Glover and Jeffrey Wright in the Broadway production of Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk.

Born to Jennifer Garner and Bertholomu Hillshire in Orange, N.J., on May 3, 1975, and raised with his elder brother, Bert, in nearby Sayreville, Dulé began attending dance school when he was 3 and received his first break in 1983 as the understudy to Savion Glover in The Tap Dance Kid on Broadway. He went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour alongside Harold Nicholas.

In 1999, he joined the cast of the acclaimed NBC series “The West Wing,” playing the personal aide to the president (Martin Sheen) and, subsequently, deputy special assistant to the chief of staff (Allison Janney). During his seven seasons on the series, Hill garnered an Emmy Award nomination and four NAACP Image Award nominations for his work.

On the big screen, Hill appeared opposite William H. Macy in an adaptation of David Mamet’s Edmond, and Andrew Davis’ The Guardian.

Here, he talks about “Psych,” a lighthearted, crime-solving series where he plays a private eye whose partner (James Roday) pretends to be clairvoyant.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Do you believe people have psychic powers? Have you ever experienced anything psychic in real life?
DH: I do believe that there are a few of those rare folks out there with a sixth sense who really do have psychic powers. But I think the majority of people who claim to be psychics are frauds. As for myself, I’ve never experienced anything personally, except on one occasion when I was a kid with a friend of mine who has passed away since. He was spending the night over at my house and I tried to wake him up because he was mumbling to himself in his sleep. I asked him what he was talking about and he said, “Oh, man, I had this dream that your little cousin was here and bothering me by climbing on my back.” It turned out that later that day one of my cousins did come over and start messing with him. That was definitely strange. But besides that, I haven’t had any psychic experiences.

KW: I guess Miss Cleo of Psychic Friends Network infomercial fame ruined it for real psychics once she was exposed as a fraud.
DH: Yeah, any Jamaican could’ve told you from the first time they saw the commercial that she was a fake, because her accent was terrible.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: Has your role on “Psych” evolved, and how do you see it evolving further?
DH: The role has definitely evolved since the pilot season. Steve Franks had always promised that it was going to expand. If you compare the first few episodes from the first season to recent ones, you’ll see that the quality of Shawn and Gus’ interaction is richer, and that Gus stands up for himself a little more. It’s a fuller friendship at this point. As for where the development of my character is headed, I can’t say. But I’d really like to see Gus date more. He doesn’t necessarily have to succeed at dating, but just step out there, especially now that Shawn and Juliet’s relationship is really kicking off. Gus has to start asking, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’

KW: Nick also asks: How much would you say you’re like your character, Gus?
DH: I don’t think I’m like Gus at all, really. I don’t store lots of trivia in my brain. He knows something about everything, like all these random facts about the Eighties. I think I’m not as hyped as Gus is. I’m smoother and more laidback. I do like to have fun and to play games; otherwise, I don’t think I’m too much like him.

KW: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier says: Tap dance was very popular in the past with people like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and the Nicholas Brothers…As an expert in tap dance, what would you say needs to be done to put this genre of art back on the map??
DH: That’s an excellent question, although I wouldn’t call myself an expert tap dancer. Something I’m constantly turning over in my head is a way of getting tap back into the public eye. I tried to take some baby steps by doing a tap episode on “Psych” this year. But I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight revival. It’s probably going to be something that starts small and builds into a multi-faceted groundswell. It might have to begin on the theater side, on the stage, before working its way to television more widely. The Internet can play a big role, too, in educating the masses as a whole about what really good tap dancing is.

KW: Patricia also says: Your parents are from Jamaica. Marcus Garvey is one of the greatest heroes from your parents’ country. If Garvey were alive today, what do you think he would have said about the fact that we now have an African-American president?
?DH: Wow! I would hope that he would be proud of the country’s taking that major step forward. But I think he might also say that the race doesn’t stop there. We still have further to go to open the floodgates and create more opportunities for our people to achieve that same level of success in other fields so they can fully realize the American Dream.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
DH: Mostly reggae, gospel and some jazz. But I’d say about 85 percent reggae music.

KW: How do you feel about being nominated for an NAACP Image Award seven times but never winning one?
DH: I’m sort of like the Susan Lucci of the NAACP Awards. (Laughs) So, whenever I get a nomination, I never take it too seriously. It’s all good, though.

 

Kam Williams

Special to the AFRO