A True Character

Parker Kit Hill is finally stepping out of the box, and there is no perimeter in sight.

    Words by Yasmin Ahram
  • Photography by Cynthia Cervantes and Travis Gumbs

Parker Kit Hill walks into Ludlow Coffee Supply in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, tall, lanky, and seemingly undercover in an effortlessly sleek all-black outfit: skin-tight jeans hugging his long legs, a cropped leather jacket—thrifted, of course—and platform Doc Martens. His aura is undeniably intrepid, and his effervescent personality is not one that can be ignored. He is put together and collected yet quickly eases into unreserved friendliness, sharing jokes and loud laughs. Being silly and extra are traits that have long been at the forefront of his personality, but it is his many talents that have lent his fledgling career star power.

Hill’s past few years in New York City have been spent diligently inside the Joffrey Ballet School building, tucked away in the West Village. Away from the school’s orbit, he’s reaped invitations to Fashion Week shows, a role as RuPaul’s son on Broad City and a spot dancing with Jennifer Lopez at the pre-Super Bowl show this year. Although Hill fell in love with ballet as an art form, he eventually realized he didn’t want to pursue it as a professional career. “I know if you give too much time to one thing, you kind of lose everything else,” he says, “and I want to be able to focus on more.”

Once an introverted theater kid from Texas with dreams of moving to the city that never sleeps, Hill jumped at the opportunity when offered a scholarship to dance at Joffrey. Unlike most people who train in classical ballet at the college level—not that there’s anything about Hill that is really like anybody else—he had only been dancing for a year. Though it may seem like he’d been doing pliés and pirouettes soon after his first baby steps, Hill’s ability to perfect the craft is a trompe l’oeil testament to his prodigious work ethic. And being a dancer is just one of the many hats he wears so comfortably.

Before Instagram and Snapchat, there was Vine, a domain where Hill reigned supreme with a million followers and a little help from his black bob-wearing alter ego, Parklyn. He seems mindful of the power and influence that come with the territory of being a 21st-century social media star. Creating such a platform-defining persona brings the inevitable danger of being boxed into one character, yet, he insists, “there’s more to me than just the silly persona.” Acutely aware of industry pitfalls from the start, he knew he had to break out of that mold instead of falling into the trap that many young social media personalities do.

“I want to show people my kind of queer, my kind of personality, because it really isn’t like anyone else’s.”

“I like to be quiet, I do respect silence and I think there’s nothing wrong with that,” Hill says thoughtfully. “I only speak when it’s the right time.” He thinks a lot before posting, calling himself out on his occasional hyper-awareness, which he says can be “very taxing” and “emotionally draining” for him. He even asked a music-video director to give his part to another actor after he found himself unable to do what the role called for—cry on cue—but Hill also knows that just being himself “is good enough for a lot of people.”

Despite the pressures of needing to show an idealistic life online, being authentic and transparent are values indicative to Hill’s personality, both on social media and in real life, which took him all the way to Broad City, where he played himself. Following his role on the show, people started to recognize him solely for his acting, a shocking yet refreshing feeling. It’s one thing to be followed by the show’s creators and stars, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, but it’s quite another for them to write you into their series. Hill compares his experience on set to “feeling at home.”

People have been rushing to stamp Hill with a label, but he wants to promote that “it’s okay that you are still figuring yourself in this whole crazy space that we live in.” As someone who currently identifies as a gay male, at 22 years old, Hill is still trying to find his own unique space within the LGBTQ+ community: “I want to show people my kind of queer, my kind of personality, because it really isn’t like anyone else’s.”

Out of school and (absurdly) feeling unaccomplished, Hill has been in meetings with some of the editorial world’s biggest and baddest, from Paper to GQ and W. He is on the pitchboard with plans to put his unmatched sense of style and thrift-shopping skills to use to continue entertaining like he knows best. His most recent collaboration was during New York Fashion Week with his favorite vintage store, The Break; he took over their Instagram account and fiercely walked followers through their presentation, sporting an all-red pant suit.

He still grapples with the complexities of upkeeping “curated and staged” appearances on social media, from which he has recently taken a small break. Managing his public online presence does not always match his reality, but Hill is not interested in presenting a perfect life either. “It’s just not obtainable,” he says, “no one is perfect.”

The best advice he’s gotten, he recalls, comes from his current go-to confidant, Glazer: “Don’t overthink.” While taking that into account, he has no plans to slow down anytime soon, with further aspirations to create music and design shoes. His work ethic echoes through one more time before he heads to Minneapolis to rehearse for his performance with Lopez: “If you work hard, you will see results in the long run. Always work hard.”

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