Actress Takes New Role as 1L
After performing on Broadway and on TV, Brigid Harrington has started a new stage in life as a first-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Harrington, a native of Barnegat, New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and theater from the University of Notre Dame.
Her credits include a Broadway production of “Mary Poppins” at age 11 and the animated preschool series “Chuggington.” Harrington has also been a voice actress for Nick Jr. and has appeared on live-action TV shows and commercials. Outside of acting, she interned on Capitol Hill for U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Andy Kim, and the House Office of the Parliamentarian.
In our occasional series “Star Witness,” Harrington discusses her path to the stage and screen, and what skills she learned as an entertainer that she can apply to lawyering.
Why did you want to be an actress, and how did it lead to Broadway?
From a very young age, I had a significant interest in the arts. Music played an instrumental role in my childhood — artists like Sam Cooke and The Chieftains instilled in me a love for singing that ultimately led to a love for the stage. After engaging with local community theater groups, I then began auditioning for professional productions in Philadelphia and New York City. One project led to another — I had the opportunity to perform in a variety of regional theater productions, radio commercials and TV shows. Eventually, I was able to make my Broadway debut as Jane Banks in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway. The experience was very rigorous, especially because I remained a full-time student in public school throughout my time with the show. However, it taught me how to manage my time, perform in high-pressure situations and engage with hundreds of people in an audience night after night.
Tell us about being a voice actress.
One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is being able to serve as the original voice of the character Koko on the animated TV series “Chuggington.” I enjoyed being a voiceover artist on this show for a number of reasons. First, I always thought that it was an exciting challenge to be tasked with communicating a range of different emotions and messages by using only your voice and not being able to rely on facial gestures or body language. More importantly, however, I really enjoyed seeing the positive impact that the show had on children throughout the country. Koko is the lead female role in the show, and I always enjoyed meeting little girls who admired her for being a strong, empowering female character. I hope that “Chuggington” will have a similar impact on future generations of children.
Why law school?
What I always liked most about being an actor was feeling like I could have a tangible impact on the audience. For example, being able to make an audience member laugh and smile with a joke or song in a performance made me feel like I was positively affecting someone else’s life, even if just for a moment. After studying political science at the University of Notre Dame and completing three internships with the U.S. House of Representatives, I realized that law and public policy would enable me to do what I had liked most about acting on a far larger scale and in a more enduring way. Like actors, lawyers are able to tangibly improve the lives of others, and it was ultimately that drive to serve others that made me decide to pursue a legal education.
What did you learn from the entertainment industry that you think can apply to law school and being a lawyer?
Being an actor is all about communication, and I think that the same can be said with respect to the legal profession. As an actor, I learned how to effectively communicate with an audience, using persuasion to convince audience members to suspend their disbelief during performances. Similarly, lawyers must be able to effectively present their argument in a convincing way to courts, both orally and through writing. I am eager to apply the communication and persuasion skills that I developed as an actor to the process of writing legal briefs or delivering an oral argument in law school.
What’s next for you?
After law school, I plan on working in public service and government in Washington, D.C. Although I am still exploring career paths, I am interested in working for the Department of Justice or possibly returning to Capitol Hill.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.