Seeking the Magic: An Interview with Lily Harris

By Livian Yeh

After graduating from Reed College with a degree in English, Lily Harris entertained career paths in teaching, academia, and horseback riding, but ultimately landed on acting. Learning about A.C.T.’s MFA program from a friend and eager to improve her craft, the Los Angeles native auditioned and was accepted as part of our class of 2020. She talks to us about her time in the program, her inspiration, and finding joy in life as an artist.

Lily Harris Headshot. Photo by Deborah Lopez. 

How have you grown in your artistry in the past three years being in the MFA Program?
I am so much more confident in sharing myself with others. I think I started acting because I felt it gave me permission to show parts of myself I didn’t feel comfortable sharing in everyday life. Although that is definitely still true, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the only person who can give you permission to do or be something is you. I am much more conscious of when I am hindered by fear or the desire to do something “right” in my work. I am able (most of the time) to overcome these feelings by leaning into my sense of play, exploration, and joy.

What's your favorite part of the Program and why?
My classmates! In all three years, but especially the CLASS OF 2020! It’s an amazing, supportive community that we create for each other. 

Outside of theater, what interests do you have?
I live with my partner and our incredible, adorable dog Beau, and I don’t know where I’d be without them. I love to read, primarily fantasy and magical realism. I like being enveloped in worlds different from my own. Horseback riding was a huge part of my life for a long time, so it will always be important to me, even though I don’t get to do it as often as I would like. Someday, I’ll have a horse again.

Lily Harris in A Midsummer Night's Dream (2019). Photo by Alessandra Mello.

Who inspires you?
People who are wholly themselves and don’t have to prove it, who are passionate and intelligent and kind. Most of the inspirational people in my life are my friends and family rather than public figures. I find it easier to admire someone when you know their flaws and weaknesses as well as you do their gifts and virtues. 

How would you describe your approach to your work?
I love collaborating! Being part of a team is always challenging, but I love co-creating with adventurous, ambitious, unique people. I have a hard time creating entirely on my own, but I’ve been working on that skill recently, because of the pandemic, which is helpful practice for me. I’m good at interpreting abstract ideas and fusing together disparate ones, and I love detail-oriented, specific work. I am a very flexible actor, and enjoy working with directors to try different ideas in the rehearsal room. I always strive for simplicity, truth, and humor in my work, because nothing kills energy and story more than taking yourself or a situation too seriously, or trying to make it something that it’s not. I am constantly seeking the magic in my art. 

Check out A.C.T. MFA Program Class of 2020 here

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