Senior Graham Farrell pursues his passion for theater at UCLA

Pacing through the halls with his pin-speckled backpack and an unkempt whirlwind of hair makes senior Graham Farrell easily recognizable to all those at PRHS. He is not without many titles. Leader. Actor. Representative. Athlete. Rarely is there an individual who betters their community in more ways than one. For Farrell, it’s just the way of the world.

What began as a first period Beginning Drama class freshman year led Farrell to perform in eight productions through the Paso High Theatre Company, including lead roles in Alice in Wonderland as Tweedledum, The Drowsy Chaperone as Robert Martin, and The Little Mermaid as Scuttle.

“The power of playing characters on stage is the ability to understand human nature,” Farrell said. “That, I think, is really what acting is all about.”

His favorite role was playing Robert Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone for having expanded his confidence in singing and dancing, Graham admitted. Taking the 7th period Advanced Choir class also contributed to his confidence on stage. “Singing isn’t necessarily my strong suit. It wasn’t always something I enjoyed doing, but that class has definitely helped me improve in that sense,” Graham said. A great inspiration for Farrell is Drama teacher Marcy Goodnow, who urged him to go to an open audition at UCLA on Feb. 18, 2017. He received news of his acceptance in mid-April.

“I knew that if he didn’t try out [for the audition] he would regret it. He is extremely talented and I am so proud of the performer he has become! His acceptance letter is on the wall in my classroom,” Goodnow said. In the fall, Farrell will attend the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT).

“I didn’t think I was going to get in,” Farrell said. “Only 40 people got accepted into the school out of the 3,500 auditioning.” Farrell’s audition was composed of memorizing two monologues – Shakespearean and Modern – along with a personal interview and an additional audition that assessed his ability to take direction and overcome obstacles on stage.

Graham joined JOOI club (Junior Optimist Octagon International) in his sophomore year, but was voted President this past school year. Since his inauguration, JOOI club has judged for the downtown spelling bee and has held three food truck fundraisers, to first get the club up-and-running, and then for Advanced Choir and most recently for Amanda Snowbarger. Farrell runs alongside VP Cassidy LeClair, Treasurer Josh Aronsohn, and Secretary Cody Buchholtz.

 

“It has been a fantastic time. It will always be something I’m really proud of, taking something that could have been a reality and making it one,” Graham said.

At three years old, Graham moved to Seoul, South Korea when his parents received government positions teaching on military bases. In this time, he and his family visited over a dozen countries in their three years stationed in Seoul before being relocating to Oberreichenbach, Germany when he was six. When he was 11, Graham moved back to the US.

“By living overseas, I built up an empathetic view of people and found ways to connect and communicate without knowing the language,” Graham said. “It was a very instrumental part of my life.”

When the Farrells moved to Paso Robles from Germany, they joined the First Baptist Church and Graham began going to the Paso Robles Boy Scouts Troop 60, where he met his now long-time friends, Matt Olsen and Grant Scheiffele.

Best friends since the sixth grade, Graham and Matt share fond memories from attending the Boy Scouts National Jamboree in Virginia and the Klondike Derby, a winter competition in which both boys served on a leadership corps for younger scouts. He also credits Graham for getting him accepted into the Air Force Academy, while Graham unfortunately did not get into the Naval Academy. “Wherever I end up going is exactly what God wants. I have 100 percent faith that UCLA is where He wants me to be,” Graham said.

“If it weren’t for him [Graham], I would have never known about this amazing path I’ve been set on,” Matt said gratefully.

In his sophomore year, Graham and Matt Horne were selected by PRHS faculty to represent their school in Boys’ State, an organization run over the summer which teaches young adults the ins-and-outs of local government. There, Graham and Matt learned how to govern in city, county and state levels, doing mock trials and staging meetings.

“It builds upon the leadership idea of being an upstanding citizen and an effective speaker,” Graham said.

Graham hopes for a future in acting, whether it be in plays, musicals or movies. Alumni from the UCLA TFT have worked on anything from blockbuster hits such as Monsters Inc, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Godfather trilogy to television shows like The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle. In the end, Graham wants to go back into teaching the art at the high school or collegiate level, due to the inspired teaching of Mrs. Goodnow and the Paso High Theater Co, noted Graham. “I would love to give that back to other people. It doesn’t matter where or who I’m with.” Graham said.

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