Dublin High School and PACE University Alum Chris Harral on Life as an Actor
DUBLIN, CA–The last time we spoke with Dublin High School Class of 2012 alum Chris Harral he had just begun his journey to completing a BFA at PACE University in New York City. We recently caught up with Chris, now a graduate of PACE, to learn more about his college experience.
From not even knowing that being an actor as a living was a possibility to just recently graduating from PACE University in New York City with a BFA in acting, Chris Harral has gone on an incredible journey of hard work, learning, and growth in his pursuit for a career in theatre. With his mother’s encouragement, Harral tried out for a Dublin High School drama production in his Freshman year and discovered that theatre was his calling. After performing in numerous productions with Dublin High drama and nabbing some roles in community theatre, Harral made the decision to seek out further training in his passion and to pursue a life in the arts.
Over the past four years at PACE, Harral has intensively trained to improve himself as an actor, which has included classes focusing on physical and movement training, improv, speech and dialect, and courses on acting specific to television and film. Outside of the classroom, Harral has acted both for the university and in theatre companies around New York City, which has included Harral’s favorite and most challenging role as Orlando in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and more recently, his role as Kenneth Day in Veritas, which is a play about the secret trials of gay men held by Harvard during the 1920’s.
One of Harral’s most memorable and eye-opening experiences from his four years in PACE’s acting program was traveling to LA this past year for a three-week intensive. For five days a week from 9 am to 10 pm at night, Harral learned extensively about the business side of acting and how the industry works from casting directors and actors themselves. During this intensive, Harral discovered just how important social media is for getting hired as an actor when he heard stories about production companies and hiring directors for films and TV series not hiring a particular actor because the other actor has 30,000 more followers than they do. Not being particularly social media savvy at the time, Harral recalled that this was tough news to hear but served as an encouragement for him and his friend from PACE, Alex, to start the YouTube channel Side Order. In regards to Side Order, Harral said the YouTube series is “a way to get ourselves out there and a way to keep honing our skills and learning new skills, like editing, filming, and sound.” Side Order releases a new video every Friday, so make sure to check them out!
Looking back, Harral says that performing at Dublin High School was an integral part of where he is today. “High school theatre was really valuable for me,” said Harral, “Without high school theatre, I wouldn’t have known all of the things you are expected to know walking into a first rehearsal.” In addition, high school theatre helped Harral learn how to think on his feet. “I got a chance to direct in high school and I had a hundred different chances to make a skit or sketch, so that really helped me learn to quickly come up with ideas and how to make a bold choice about something,” said Harral.
For anyone considering pursuing theatre as a career after high school, Harral said to most importantly ask yourself, “do you love it because you love the art or because you like to entertain people – or is your answer far off from that? If your answer is you want to be rich someday or famous, I think you will find out quickly that won’t take you very far.” Harral emphasized that theatre is an emotionally and physically taxing profession to choose and full of lots of rejection, and therefore you have to be willing to put in a lot of work to get the best results. In addition, Harral suggests that you ask the people that you really trust whether pursuing acting as a career is a good decision for you. Although the opinions of others are important for your decision, Harral said, “don’t let anybody tell you no. If you know in your heart that this is what you have to do, do it.” Harral’s last, and most stressed, piece of advice is that “it is very, very important to get training. There are very few people who can just show up and be good. Training makes you worlds better.”
It is clear that Harral has the passion and determination to be an incredibly successful actor. Make sure to support Harral’s career by watching and subscribing to his YouTube channel Side Order, and keep a look out for him on the big stage the next time you’re in New York City.