FORT WASHINGTON — Hundreds of students from the High School for Media and Communications got acting tips — and even a break-dancing lesson — from “American Crime” star and Washington Heights native Elvis Nolasco during a visit from the actor Wednesday afternoon.
The 47-year-old, who said he was inspired to start acting by a teacher at the school when he attended in the late '80s, was invited to meet with students as part of the school's lecture series featuring guests who've made it in media and entertainment.
The actor, who toured the school before meeting with teachers and nearly 600 students in the auditorium, got emotional when he stepped on the stage.
“It’s truly an honor and pleasure to be here,” he told the students before launching into a Q&A session with English teacher Peter DeMarco and Spanish teacher and event translator Katy Stapleton. “As soon as I walked through those doors, it brought back a lot of fond memories.”
Nolasco went on to give students advice on how to make it in Hollywood, and talked about the support his family provided for him on his path.
After one of the students challenged him to perform, he even did a quick break-dancing routine, which he said he learned at the age of 12 "in the streets of New York."
"You never put someone on the spot," he said with a laugh after dancing, as the students cheered and applauded.
Nolasco also discussed how he prepared for his role on "American Crime," as well as others characters for legendary director Spike Lee, saying he tries to not to be typecast in stereotypical roles.
“Actors are careful of not falling into the trap for oneself," he said.
Nolasco was the first invited guest in the "What It Takes" series, which assistant principal Emel Topbas-Mejia said would feature "prestigious actors, producers, novelists — individuals who will inspire you and encourage you to pursue your dreams of excellence.”
Tatyana Kenney, an 11th-grader and member of the school's acting club, said she was very proud to attend the school, consdering its notable alumnus.
“This school is now big,” she said with a laugh.
Kenney also said she appreciated the message Nolasco shared with her fellow students.
“Behind all the hard work, there's something great coming out of it," she said.