Cox grad Hill’s dramatic roots grow into comedic roles

The actor Tymberlee Hill, originally of Virginia Beach, stars in the Hulu series Hotwives of Las Vegas. [Courtesy photo.]
The actor Tymberlee Hill, originally of Virginia Beach, stars in the Hulu series Hotwives of Las Vegas. [Courtesy photo.]

Tymberlee Hill, formerly of Virginia Beach, stars in the Hulu reality series satire The Hotwives of Las Vegas. She’s appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, Castle and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and she’s co-starred on a recent NBC comedy, Marry Me.

Yet she still recalls the desperation she felt while, as a freshman at Old Domionion University, she tried to score a little camera time in the Wreckx-N-Effect video for the  “Rump Shaker.”

Hill, a 1992 graduate of Frank W. Cox High School, said an invitation went out for the shoot when she was working her college job at a local Leggett’s.

“So we all went down to the Oceanfront to be in the video,” Hill said, “and it crushes my heart that you cannot see me in there, because I bought a bathing suit special for that.” 

It was bright pink so she could see herself in the video.

“I remember thinking, ‘This could be it, Ty. This could be how it starts’” she said. “And I am nowhere to be seen. It still crushes me.”

Hill had a close encounter with one of the co-writers of “Rump Shaker” while she was still a student at Cox. The gentleman’s name was Pharrell Williams. 

“Pharrell didn’t go to Cox, but we did a Showtime at the Apollo thing at the school, and I met him through that,” Hill said. “He used to have dreadlocks and wear his rainbow Hilfiger shirt all the time – and now he’s Pharrell! He’s from our neighborhood! I’m, like, ‘That is the same guy who was standing with me in the parking lot of Cox High School, talking about his group Red Beans and Rice.’ A few years ago when I was on Marry Me on NBC, part of the promotion for the show involved us sitting in the audience of The Voice. Pharrell’s on the show, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, Virginia Beach! Yeah!’”

Though Hill can be seen on Hotwives as well as on Comedy Central’s Drunk History, her comedy career began purely by accident. 

The path started at Old Dominion University and took her through summer stock in Chautauqua, N.Y., the Shakespeare Theater Company Academy in Washington, D.C., a trying 10 months in New York City, and an eventual move to Los Angeles.

That move led to stints on dramas Brothers & Sisters and Grey’s Anatomy.

Everything changed, however, after Hill hosted a game night at her house. She found herself becoming friends with actor, comedian and writer Casey Wilson. Wilson said Hill should visit the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

“I’m, like, ‘Uh, no: I don’t do that. I don’t even like improv – and that not me,’” Hill said.  “I mean, I came from a structured theatrical background. But I went out there, and that’s where my manager saw me, that’s where Derek Waters of Drunk History saw me, and that’s where Paul Scheer of Hotwives saw me, too. That’s where everything happened, and it was all by accident.”

Looking back at her time in Virginia Beach, Hill said she has more fond memories than she can count. She remembers nights at the Oceanfront, with friends on the dunes, having a beer – or perhaps even a in a borrowed catamaran. 

“We’d bring it back, of course,” she said, laughing. 

“I can still remember sitting there, staring at the water, just a bunch of friends having the time of our life,” Hill added. “Everything wonderful that happened to me in Virginia Beach happened between 60th Street and the Cavalier Hotel.” 

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