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Detroit Native and Actress Erica Peeples Talks Julliard, 'Law & Order' and Coming Home

As she prepares to perform in Mosaic Youth Theatre's production 'Living for the City: Mosaic Singers Tribute to Stevie Wonder,' Erica Peeples discusses her journey to the stage and screen.

Actress Erica Peeples can easily describe two turning points in her life.

The first occurred when she was 6. As a fan of the Disney Channel's Kids Incorporated and The Mickey Mouse Club, young Peeples landed early on a lifelong career – acting. She expressed her dream and her mom signed her up for lessons.

Then, when she was 12, Peeples experienced one of the worst traumas of her life – a house fire. Fortunately, she was saved by her father. But the reality of being three seconds from dying of smoke inhalation had a profound effect.

"I feel – and I know – that I was brought back for a reason. That pretty much changed my life," Peeples says.

The Mount Clemens native went on to study at the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts (now Detroit School of Arts), Mosaic Youth Theatre, Columbia University and, finally, Julliard.

"New York to me was completely eye opening and life changing," Peeples says. "You have a city full of people from all around the world who are just living their life. There's art everywhere. It was my first experience of being in the big city, and I was only 18 years old. It was where I grew up, really."

Julliard, while exhilarating from an artistic perspective, provided a demanding curriculum – one that had her working 8 a.m.-11 p.m. six days a week. It became the backdrop of her life for three-and-a-half years.

After graduating, Peeples landed a spot on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She calls it her "initiation into the professional world." And with good reason.

"When you get out of school, if you make it on Law & Order, then you've made it," Peeples says. "It was filmed in New York; it moved to California two years ago."

Shortly after that role, she moved to L.A. herself and began the cycle of more classes, auditions, rejections and trying to break in. She eventually landed a co-starring role in the Vivica Fox-led 2017 drama, True to the Game. The red-carpet event was held in Detroit.

"It was definitely the first red-carpet event where I was the star of the movie," Peeples says. "That was very surreal in a lot of ways. I had always imagined (it) as a child, and I got a chance to do that with my family in my hometown. It meant the world to me – it was like a fairytale."

Peeples will be returning this spring for Mosaic Youth Theatre's production Living for the City: Mosaic Singers Tribute to Stevie Wonder, heading to the Redford Theatre March 2-4. She's excited to be back.

"That was the beginning of my acting career," she says. "My lifelong friends today came from Mosaic. It was a wonderful opportunity of bringing young artistic kids together."

Although she's been "six long years" in California, her heart is still with Detroit.

"I feel there's so much passion that lives in Detroit, from Motown to just being an artist of color out striving to be more – and striving to give back to my city and my town," Peeples says. "I feel very privileged and honored to say that I'm a Detroit native. I wear it loud and proud."

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