‘Lost’ Actor Harold Perrineau Talks Encouraging Black Families to Obtain a Will


The idea of having a will never cross the mind of Oz and Lost actor Harold Perrineau until his career took off and the thought of having children made it make sense.

Perrineau recently teamed up with the Essex County Surrogate’s Court to encourage other people, specifically Black families, to gain more knowledge on how to get a will and the importance of having one.

BLACK ENTERPRISE got an opportunity to discuss why The Rookie actor was involved with the Essex County Surrogate’s Court and why he feels that Black people don’t necessarily have wills.

What was the reason for your involvement with a webinar with the Essex County Surrogate’s Court and how did you feel you can help with what they are trying to achieve?

In early 2020, my youngest brother passed away and the only will he had was on his cell phone. A cell phone will isn’t recognized. The Essex County Surrogate’s Court helped us navigate through all of the very tricky laws in order for my brother’s wishes to be fulfilled. I think I can help because sometimes people are moved to action by other people’s stories, and my story may connect with someone who is in a similar situation or has been on the fence about taking action.

It’s like an unwritten rule that among Black families, unless the family has wealth, and sometimes when they do, that we often don’t create wills or try to prepare for the likely death of someone in the family. Why do you think this is and what can/should we do to change that thinking going forward?

Money is not something that comes with instructions on how to build it into wealth. Many African American families don’t have a background in dealing with having and building up their money. I think the only way to change that is to get the information out to our community and information will build generationally as we all begin to evolve.

Before you started your craft and became successful, did the creation of a will ever cross your mind? Did your successful career alter the way you thought about it or did it ever really cross your mind?

When I started my career, my only focus was building it. Again this was something my family and I had no experience with so that process was quite a journey by itself. Protecting my family’s future with a will never cross my mind until I began to consider having children. At that point, my future looked very different than it had when I was starting out, and I wanted to protect them.

What are you doing these days that people may not know about that you’d like to mention?

Well, I like to think of myself as a creative person so there are always things I’m looking to create. Right now, I’ve been working on producing products for film and television because there are stories I’m interested in telling.

What advice would you give to anyone seeking to hone their craft and become successful?

Honing one’s craft is the best advice I can offer. I always believe that this is a tricky business filled with lots of opinions and points of view and sometimes those points of view may keep you excluded and feeling bad about yourself. But when you build your craft, I believe, that’s something that no point of view can take from you. You own and you use it like any other craftsperson and the proof is always in the work. You always have your skill to rely on when opinions try to derail you.


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