Erica Gimpel: Life After “Fame”
Erica Gimpel was practically a household name in 1982 after landing her debut role as Coco Hernandez on Fame, the iconic television series based on the movie of the same name, that also made Debbie Allen famous. Interestingly enough, Gimpel was cast while she was actually attending New York’s esteemed High School for the Performing Arts, where the show took place.
“It's so funny that the show is called Fame, because what I think I have learned over the years is that the notoriety comes and goes but what sustains you, is the love of the work and the love of the art. The other stuff doesn't,” Gimpel recalls about gaining stardom as a teenager.
In fact, unlike most of the teen actors on the show who fell into obscurity once the series closed in 1987, Gimpel has worked steadily on TV in the three decades since, appearing on popular TV series including ER (for six years), Law And Order, House, Boston Legal, Touched by an Angel, The Young and the Restless and Nikita. In 2010, she released her debut album Spread your Wings and Fly and is currently wrapping up her sophomore album.
Not that she hasn’t had her ups and downs.
“The downs have been when I really wanted a certain role and they wanted to go with someone with more of a name, someone who’s hot right now. That’s hurtful. It’s like, hasn't my work proven anything?”
Recently, the youthful-looking 49-year-old just wrapped her latest role as Juliet’s nurse in a capoeira inspired version of Romeo and Juliet in Harlem, which filmed in her hometown and is due out in 2014.
“When I first started my dream was to touch people through my work and really move them. And the core of it hasn’t changed. I’ve remained true to that.”