New York — Morgan Freeman's step-granddaughter was an up-and-coming actress who had briefly given up her career in frustration only to return to New York with renewed spirit and a starring part in an independent film.
"My dream has come true and it's just beginning. Life can make you want to give up or walk away; sometimes it gives you the strength to appreciate when you do get your happy ending," Edena Hines wrote on her blog.
The 33-year-old actress, who sometimes went as E'dena, was fatally stabbed on Sunday in front of her Upper Manhattan apartment building. Her boyfriend has been arrested on murder charges.
Hines had just finished filming "Landing Up," a movie about a street-wise woman who falls for a man and must decide how to divulge her past.
"She really gave everything to the film. All of her soul. She was amazing in it. She's such a talented actress," said Stacey Maltin, who wrote, produced and stars in "Landing Up." Hines played Maltin's best friend in the film.
The cast and crew have been in a fog since the death, trying to edit images of a woman they miss. "We're totally devastated. At first, I had to keep checking to see if it was real, that it was actually true," said Maltin.
A graduate of New York University's graduate acting program, Hines confessed that she felt frustrated with the direction of her career, writing that she felt "unfulfilled."
"Try booking an ingenue role when you look like Juliet, but you read like Lady Macbeth," she wrote on her blog. "I wasn't sure where I fit in or what I wanted."
Many of her TV and film credits had some tie to her step-grandfather. She played a receptionist at a vet in "5 Flights Up," which starred Freeman and Diane Keaton. She played a maid in 1996's "Moll Flanders," with Freeman and Robin Wright. She also played a minor role on the comedic web series "A Minority Report."
Hines left for Memphis, Tennessee, for two years but this spring auditioned for "Landing Up" and got the part of Cece. "She had this energy that is so raw and magnetic," said Maltin. Hines never revealed who her famous relative was during her audition. "She really wanted to prove herself as an actress."
She returned to New York to start filming this spring. "Now there is an ease with which I approach my work, a sense of comfort instead of fear," she wrote.
Maltin said once when she was on set, the director, Daniel Tenenbaum, said he wanted to rehearse a scene but that the cast shouldn't go full-out. Maltin watched on a monitor as Hines acted up a storm. "I thought you were going to go half that?" Replied Hines: "That was my 50 percent."
Hines was the granddaughter of Freeman's first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw. The two were married from 1967-1979.
Maltin said Hines had plans to start writing and developing some of her own work. She also planned to be in a play this fall. "She was really excited about a lot of things," said Maltin.
The film "Landing Up" is due out in 2016.