Hassie Harrison Booked Her ‘Tacoma FD’ Breakout by Going the Extra Mile—Literally

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Photo Source: Nathan Arizona

After honing her comedy skills on truTV’s “Tacoma FD,” Hassie Harrison added a dramatic role to her résumé on the third season of Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone,” trading the firehouse for the ranch. The Dallas-bred actor, whose other credits include “Hart of Dixie” and the upcoming Kevin Smith–led “Max Reload and the Nether Blasters,” shares her audition preparedness tips and the time she canceled her own birthday party to ready herself for an audition.

What has this role on “Yellowstone” added to your acting skills?
I would say that this is the first time in my career that I’ve had the opportunity to play someone so close to me, but also so different. It’s been therapeutic to be cast in a role that allows me to reconnect to my Texas roots and the cowboy culture I grew up around.

How did you get your first big break? Who was the casting director who cast you?
There were a few smaller roles I got along the way, but I think my first big break really felt like “Tacoma FD.” [Series creators and stars] Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme brought me in on that. As a series regular and main girl in the cast and getting to work in a comedy and improv platform, that totally strengthened my muscle for comedy. Getting to work with these comedic legends, it’s like playing tennis with one of the experts. It only makes you look even cooler than you are.

What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d just be gentler with myself. This is such an unusual career field, and we all have very unique trajectories. In the beginning, I would do the classic compare-and-despair, which never really served me—or anyone else, for that matter. It took me a bit longer to find my momentum. I’m so grateful, actually, because it allowed me to cultivate a self-knowing and confidence that many people who shoot to success at a super young age aren’t really able to develop. One of my mantras in this industry is from “Finding Nemo.” One of my dearest friends, in a down moment, I called her and she just said, “Just keep swimming.”

“In the beginning, I would do the classic compare-and-despair, which never really served me—or anyone else, for that matter. It took me a bit longer to find my momentum.”

What is your worst audition horror story?
One standout I had was a next-day audition I got on my birthday. It was on a Sunday and at the end of the day, so I canceled the barbecue I had planned for my birthday and instead spent my entire birthday working on this super heavy audition which included a rape scene. So, basically, I’m living in that energy and living out a solo rape scene. The audition went really well, and at the end, the casting director goes, “These rape scenes are getting really heavy, I think we should start cutting them from the audition.” I remember walking out of that audition dying laughing because it was all I could do at that point. I got some beer with some buddies and laughed it off. To not have a scene partner for it and to be acting it out solo and for it to be my birthday, there were so many things about it. What we do for a living is so strange.

How do you typically prepare for an audition?
If you’re lucky, you’ll get the script and you’ll get to read the story first. I think that’s the most important thing, because you get to find the tone. I think listening to your initial instinct is important, writing down those first thoughts on paper. If I spend time thinking about it, I’ll start to play out how I “think” it should be played, and once you start doing that, it’s hard to stand out. It’s a lot of pacing, nervous eating, and procrastination. [Laughs]

What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done to get a role?
I booked a last-minute plane ticket to go audition in person. I was on a much-anticipated family vacation when the audition for “Tacoma FD” came in, and I’m so glad I listened to my gut instinct to fly home and meet with the showrunners in person because it worked out for me.

What performance should every actor see and why?
I think everyone needs to see Michael K. Williams’ performance of Omar Little on “The Wire.” He does such unexpected and nuanced things with that character. I remember being in awe every time he came on screen. It’s such a mesmeric and satisfying role to watch, too. He’s an overall brilliant actor. I also loved him on “Boardwalk Empire.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge on “Fleabag” is a given. And, of course, Gena Rowlands in “A Woman Under the Influence” is all-time.

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