Jon Michael Hill was bit by the acting bug at a very young age, discovering his love for the craft after writing a short story about his brother getting lost at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. Today, he continues to feed his passion for the arts through the visual storytelling mediums of theater, film and television.

“I was sort of learning to write, I think, in first grade, and I wrote a short story about my brother getting lost at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, which is a true story,” Hill told Blavity’s Shadow and Act. “They turned it into a play, and I was sitting in the auditorium, watching this production, and the actor playing my brother sort of just convinced me that he was lost, and I was like, ‘Wow, I want to do what he does.’ It should have made me want to be a writer, but it took a longer path to get there.”

“I wanted to act, I wanted to do what he was doing,” he continued. “Then there were films like Star Wars and Mad Max. Growing up watching those, I always wanted to do what they were doing — Luke Skywalker and Mad Max.”

Hill, someone who equally loves being on the screen and the stage, earned a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in Superior Donuts. Hill is on the board of trustees of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and has served as an ensemble member since 2007, appearing in several productions. He also portrayed Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare in the Park for The Public Theater. 

“At the core of it, I truly believe they’re more similar than they are different,” said Hill of how he navigates through the worlds of theatre, television and film. “The techniques certainly vary, but I think at the core, you are an actor. You’re a tool for the playwright; you’re helping them to tell a story, and your job is to interpret the character’s arc. The more you can get at the truth of your connection to the character, personalize it without any judgment, and put an honest portrayal out there, you’re serving the story as best you can. So, at the core of it, that translates through all mediums.”

In addition to his work on the stage, Hill has a recurring role on AMC/The CW’s courtroom drama 61st Street, produced by Michael B. Jordan. He also guest-starred in the Paramount+’s The Good Fight

'A Man in Full' on Netflix

His latest role includes the portrayal of Conrad Hensley, a man who finds himself caught up in a nasty cycle of police harassment, in the Netflix adaptation of the synonymous New York Times bestselling novel, A Man in Full, written by the late Tom Wolfe. 

“I don’t play the young love interest or this everyday kind of guy,” Hill said, noting how this character is different from others he has portrayed in the past. “He’s working a warehouse job for this big real estate tycoon Charlie Croker. He is an everyday dude, a happily married young man with a baby on the way. I haven’t gotten to do that a lot, so it was a treat to be able to sink into a naturalistic, grounded character.”

Hill said the first thing that drew him to the project was the opportunity to potentially work alongside Regina King, who serves as an executive producer and director of three episodes, including the pilot, for the Netflix series.

“I think what drew me first may have been the team, like working with Regina King. That opportunity was something that appealed to me,” he said. “I honestly didn’t think I would be considered for the role. I didn’t know if I was going to be considered too old or too busy, and I just wanted to put my best work on camera for Regina King so that maybe they would consider me down the line for something else. But it just ended up working out.”

As Hill looks ahead to the future, he has some plays in the vault that he hopes to bring to larger audiences. Additionally, he is preparing for his role as blues singer Robert Johnson in Leroy and Lucy, a Steppenwolf production set to debut in the fall.

A Man in Full is now streaming on Netflix.