Eriq La Salle Rejects 'African American Author' Label Amid Success

Exploring Eriq La Salle's Literary Journey and Vision

by Nouman Rasool
Eriq La Salle Rejects 'African American Author' Label Amid Success
© Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Eriq La Salle, a celebrated figure renowned for his roles in iconic films like "Coming to America" and the beloved TV series "ER," is charting new territories beyond the screen as a thriller novelist. At 61, La Salle has embraced writing, a passion that has lingered from his childhood, alongside his storied acting, directing, and producing career.

He shares with PEOPLE that although acting captivated him early on, leading him to prestigious drama schools like Juilliard and NYU, the allure of writing never faded. About a decade ago, he decided to revisit this old dream, overcoming societal stereotypes and self-doubt about his capability to pen a novel.

La Salle's journey into writing was not without its challenges. Despite the initial hurdles of self-publishing and finding a publisher willing to take a chance on his work, his persistence paid off. He eventually partnered with Ebony Magazine Publishing, an imprint at Sourcebooks, to release the Martyr Maker trilogy, a testament to his resilience and creativity.

Beyond Labels: La Salle

The actor-turned-author is adamant about not being confined to the label of an "African American author." He strives for his work to be appreciated for its quality, independent of his race. La Salle's novels, starting with "Laws of Depravity," explore complex themes through the lens of diverse characters, including detectives of different racial backgrounds and an FBI agent with a unique heritage.

This approach not only showcases his versatility as a writer but also enriches the narrative with varied perspectives. La Salle's background, from his days living in Harlem to his extensive experience in acting and directing, infuses his storytelling with authenticity and depth.

He emphasizes the importance of presenting a narrative that transcends racial boundaries, aiming to be recognized simply as an artist who is Black, not defined by it. His success and the positive reception of his novels signify a significant achievement and the breaking of conventional barriers in the literary world.

La Salle's commitment to excellence and his desire to be judged solely on the merits of his work reflect a broader conversation about identity and achievement in the arts. As he continues to explore new avenues in writing, Eriq La Salle's journey from the screen to the page is a compelling story of passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of artistic freedom.