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Meet this Mesa Verde High School alumni who’s now an actor

Date:

Mesa Verde High School graduate Chris Laird stands in front of Starbucks at 7056 Sunrise Blvd. // S. Williams

Updated Oct. 28, 10:14 a.m.–
By Sara Beth Williams– Mesa Verde High School graduate and local resident Chris Laird always held a strong interest in acting and participated in theater classes throughout high school. But after graduating in 2004, acting took a backseat for many years.

Becoming involved with other Mesa Verde alumni theater students over a decade later reignited his passion for acting, and Laird recently starred in a short film called “The Ghost Hunt” as one of the three lead actors. The film premiered at the Crest Theater during the “A Place Called Sacramento” film festival earlier this month.

In an interview with The Sentinel, Laird said he was cast in three out of ten short films that premiered at the festival. The other two films included “Bethonie’s Interview” and “Not So Real Housewives of Sacramento.” He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “The Ghost Hunt,” which tied with the housewives’ film for the festival’s 2022 Producers Choice Award.

When another actor backed out of “Bethonie’s Interview” during filming, Laird said the film’s director reached out directly to ask if he would fill in the vacant supporting role.

“I didn’t even have to audition,” Laird said, noting that the general process for landing roles in the festival’s ten short films requires an open casting call and audition process.

After participating in “improv night” productions with other Mesa Verde alumni theater students, Laird took a serious interest in pursuing acting as a career. He began taking improv classes to hone his craft. Participating in quality improv classes is where he began making and creating relationships with industry contacts, Laird said.

In 2018, Laird was cast as a football coach in season 3 of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” which aired in 2019, according to the series’ IMDB page.

“It felt just like an actual football game,” Laird said, noting there were hundreds of extras, particularly in the stands. That was Laird’s first role on a large-scale production set.

Laird’s IMDB page credits him with nine background acting credits and one additional crew credit, beginning in 2018. The credits do not include his role in “13 Reasons Why” nor any of the roles in multiple short films for film festivals he has participated in.

While he has participated in short films for various film festivals, Laird said he enjoys working with “A Place Called Sacramento” most, which is a film festival put together by Access Sacramento. He’s also been cast in the background of a handful of commercials.

“All the work I get, I find myself, and I’m proud of that,” Laird said, also adding that it’s possible someday he might seek agent representation. For now, Laird continues to network, hone his craft, and focus his efforts on his strengths, something he did even during the pandemic, when studios and sets shut down temporarily.

When gigs were scarce, Laird and several others created a YouTube channel called “Sounds Sketchy.” According to the channel’s homepage, “Sounds Sketchy” is a web series that features “unscripted, unorthodox and unpredictable” comedy sketches. According to the series’ website, seriouslystrangeaudiotheater.com, the episodes are a blend of staged improv similar to “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, filmed improv like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and classic television sketch comedy similar to “Saturday Night Live”.

But the first year of the pandemic wasn’t without its accomplishments, as Laird’s IMDB credits list several roles in films that released in 2020 and 2021, including “Ballbuster” starring Jerry O’Connell.

“Comedy’s my jam,” Laird said, noting his appreciation for Jim Carrey. “I like doing comedy sketches. I just like being really funny.”

When asked why he pursued acting in front of a camera instead of on stage, Laird said stage acting “takes a lot of time and effort and you can’t say ‘cut’ and do it again.”

“If Jim Carrey was a stage actor, maybe I would’ve pursued that instead.”

Laird still actively participates in Mesa Verde theater productions with other alumni theater students, and recently performed during Mesa Verde’s “Ghost Tour” on Oct. 22 as one of the ghosts, along with several other alumni theater students.

“I really enjoy acting,” said Laird. “If there’s a set somewhere, I’ll hop on it.”

Correction: An initial version of this article incorrectly spelled “Bethonie’s Interview” and said it had tied with “The Ghost Hunt” for the local festival’s 2022 Producers Choice Award. The article has been updated to correctly state “The Ghost Hunt” tied with “Not So Real Housewives of Sacramento” for the award.

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