From E-Town to tinsel town: Actress Laura Harrier reflects on childhood, high school friendship, career


Photos courtesy of Laura Harrier

Mae Luning, Lily Roback, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Staff Writer

Before 32-year-old actress, Laura Harrier, took on roles in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and BlacKkKlansman, among other blockbuster films, she was“just a normal kid from Evanston!” Harrier attended ETHS from 2004-2008, and though she was born a Chicagoan, Evanston has always been her home. Despite traveling from Evanston to New York and Los Angeles, Harrier has not forgotten her roots. 

“I always feel like it’s hard to describe [Evanston] to people because it’s such a special, unique place,” says Harrier. “It just feels like home.” 

Harrier sung her praises of attending ETHS and growing up in a place like Evanston that fosters so much creativity and open-mindedness, but despite the fact that Harrier credits much of her success to her Evanston roots, she, funnily enough, wasn’t part of the ETHS theater program. 

“I wasn’t really a ‘theater kid’ at Evanston,” explains Harrier. “I kind of wish I had been, but I ran track, played tennis, did a lot of sports.”

The biggest thing she carries from her Evanston days, though, are her relationships. 

“ETHS is still a big part of my life because my best friends from high school are still my best friends to this day,” she describes.

One of those friends is Caitlin Brosious. Also an ETHS alum, Brosious grew up down the street from Harrier and, though they have not always lived within a two-minute walk, they’ve remained friends and currently both reside in Los Angeles, Ca..

“We have a really tight-knit group of friends,” explains Brosious, “that we were friends with in high school and we’re still friends with today.” 

When Brosious thinks back on her time with Harrier in high school, she remembers it as a very special time and has tons of memories of Harrier’s amazingly animated personality. According to Brosious, even though Harrier didn’t seriously pursue modeling and acting until she graduated from ETHS, she could tell Harrier was going to have a future in that type of career. 

“I knew that there was going to be some future for her,” explains Brosious, “whether it was in modeling or acting. I love how she has really translated her work in modeling into moving forward to acting.” 

Harrier graduated ETHS a semester early and moved to New York City originally to attend NYU but ended up pursuing modeling and eventually acting.

 “I went to New York and worked as a model for a few years,” explains Harrier. “I ended up not going to NYU, but while I was modeling, I realized that I was interested in acting. I ended up going to drama school at a place called William Esper in New York.”

William Esper was where Harrier perfected her skills, which she strongly believes is a huge reason for her current success. 

“I really would emphasize studying and studying your craft,” says Harrier. “I think there are a million people who just show up somewhere and just decide they’re going to be an actor and think that it just falls into your lap because it looks easy. But I studied for years in New York to get to where I am.” 

It was at William Esper that Harrier got her first acting job: An HBO pilot for director, Steve McQueen. While that didn’t end up panning out and going on air, the experience confirmed for her that acting was something she really wanted to pursue, and soon after, she moved to L.A. to expand her career where she ended up booking her biggest role yet: Liz Allan in Spider-Man: Homecoming alongside stars Tom Holland and Zendaya. 

“When I came out to L.A.,” Harrier explained, “I auditioned a bunch and then I got Spider-Man, and that was sort of my first ‘real job.’ After that, things kind of just kept trying to work out and keep moving and here I am.” 

Spider-Man: Homecoming was the role that opened the door to the next part of Harrier’s career where she was able to book more movies including the Oscar-winning film, BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is super special to me because that was the movie that really changed my life in a big way. I got to go to the Oscars, work with these incredible actors. I think after that film was sort of when I felt like ‘oh, wow, maybe I can really do this,’” Harrier describes. 

Brosious agrees that BlacKkKlansman was a stand-out in Harrier’s career so far saying that, “she was just great in that role. I think she captured it really well. It was a really important story to tell. And I know it was for her, and she was really thoughtful about her research and getting ready for that role, and it really shines through.”

Another interesting transition in her career came recently when Hairrer was cast in her first animated film, Entergelactic, alongside Jessica Williams, Kid Cudi and Timothée Chalamet. Though Harrier loved the process of making the production and would do more animated projects in the future, her focus is still on live-action work because she loves the feel of a moving set and the feeling of acting in front of the camera. 

“I love being on set,” says Harrier. “I love the process of making movies. It’s so fun for me and so exciting. It’s so interesting to see and work with everybody: The costumes, the hair and makeup, the other actors and the director. That’s what I love to do. Doing animation was definitely a fun thing that I would do again, but I wouldn’t say that’s at all my focus.”

Beyond modeling and acting, Harrier also hopes to get involved in some of the other sides of film making including writing and producing. 

“I’m developing some stuff on my own that I hope I can tell you about soon,” says Harrier. “I’m really excited to get into another creative side of filmmaking and to be producing and writing. That’s been something new for me that’s been really interesting and exciting.”

“She has transformed into this really creative and thoughtful and wonderfully smart human who’s just really intentional with the things she does,” says Brosious about Harrier’s time in the industry. “There’s a tremendous amount of pressure in the industry, so for her to stay genuine and really true to herself through it all is something to be proud of.”

More Laura Harrier is coming to the big screen this May when she will star alongside Jack Harlow in a remake of the 1992 classic White Men Can’t Jump, on Hulu. So be on the lookout for that among more projects that are sure to come! 

“She didn’t come from any connections in the industry,” says Brosious. “She came from down the block in Evanston, Illinois. She’s really done this all herself through determination and hard work, and she’s just been herself through it all. That makes her really special”