Scott D. Pierce: Persistent Utahn relishing 'Lincoln Heights' role

Alta graduate calls Hollywood move 'the roughest 3 years of my life'

Published: Friday, Jan. 19 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

Stars of "Lincoln Heights" are, from left, Mishon Ratliff, Erica Hubbard, Russell Hornsby, Nicki Micheaux, Robert Adamson and young Rhyon Nicole Brown.

Bob Damico, ABC Family

PASADENA, Calif. — On the new ABC Family series "Lincoln Heights," Robert Adamson is the minority member of the cast. He plays a white kid attending a high school attended primarily by blacks and Hispanics.

In real life, "Well, I grew up in Utah," Adamson said, "so enough said about that."

That's why they call it acting.

Adamson was born in Salt Lake City, spent his childhood in St. George, started secondary school in Springville, moved to Hawaii and then returned to Utah, where he graduated from Alta High in Sandy.

"I wouldn't have had it any other way. Utah's my home," he told the Deseret Morning News.

And it was in Utah where — much to his surprise — Adamson caught the acting bug. "I started doing theater when I was at Alta, my junior year," he said. "I kind of got alienated from all my friends, but I fell in love with it.

"I was too 'cool' to do musicals, I guess," Adamson said rather sheepishly, "but I did Shakespeare. I did Othello. I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts out here, and fell even more in love with it."

His is a familiar tale of a kid who comes to Hollywood to become a star. Adamson was 18 when he made the move. "It's been the roughest three years of my life. It's been a quick growing-up experience just to try to live out here on my own and get work and everything."

He waited tables, cleaned pools, walked dogs and worked at a movie theater, among other things. "At one point, I had four jobs. I was sleeping on the couch. I've been homeless a couple of times. Nothing too big — I'm not trying to make it out to be something that it's not. But it's been a rough trip. But it's turned out to be such a blessing. And to see my parents happy for me has been just fantastic."

His parents, Ellen and Robert Adamson of Draper, have been "very, very supportive. They weren't at first, I don't think, because they weren't really sure what was going to happen with it. They supported me, they sent me on my way and said, 'Make your own decisions.' It's been three years now, and as the show's been coming out, and they've been seeing I've been working hard and not just wasting my time, they've been coming around."

"Lincoln Heights," which airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family, revolves around the Sutton family. Eddie (Russell Hornsby) is a cop who moves with his wife (Nicki Micheaux) and their three children back to the tough, inner-city neighborhood where he grew up. Adamson co-stars as Charles, a neighborhood kid who takes a liking to Cassie (Erica Hubbard), the Suttons' teenage daughter.

Charles is a guy who "in a lot of ways is, I think, a lot more courageous than I was growing up," Adamson said. "He sees a relationship with a girl that he wants to pursue, and he goes for it, and he doesn't hold anything back. And those are kinds of qualities I still lack."

There's already a movement on the Internet from fans who want to see Charles and Cassie get together. "They are looking at these two young people who are in love — these star-crossed lovers, if you will. And they are in love. So they want to see two people come together and be happy."

Hubbard said the "strangest feedback" she's gotten is from people who ask, "Is there any difference being in an interracial relationship?"

"And the thing is, we don't feel any different," Adamson said. "I think we approach each other blindly, not looking at race."

Adamson has had his share of ridiculous questions but not about his character. When people learn he is from Utah, the first question is, "Do you have the 10 wives?"

"You'd think that they would be wiped away by now, but I always get the stereotypes."