Karen Harris: singer, lawyer, and Wilson’s new theater director


Photo courtesy of Karen Harris

Angeline Daniels

Wilson is welcoming change. Not just the freshmen or Yondr bags, but Karen Harris, the new theater director.

Harris loves working with kids and hopes to improve diversity in the Wilson theater department. She would like to see all kinds of people being cast as leads to create a group of talented individuals that can all offer something unique and personal to the Wilson theater program.

Growing up in Manhattan, New York, Harris was always surrounded by theater, especially because of her parents’ involvement in the theater. From a young age, Harris performed and sang in musicals. Jazz music and Broadway musicals captivated her attention and established her passion for singing. Being in a community with a diverse group of people caused her to advocate for fairness in the theater. This is an important characteristic she’d like to bring into Wilson. One of Harris’ main goals is achieving a diverse and equitable cast.

Throughout high school, Harris had vocal coaches who helped her master vocal technique and the art of singing. In college she majored in psychology and communication. She eventually went on to be a lawyer.

Harris mainly attributes her success to theater. “I think theater teaches so much more than we credit it for, such as life lessons, forming respect for others, inspires confidence, acceptance, listening. It encourages diversity, team-building and valuable life lessons that build a better character to inspire future success in life. I’m very good at bringing different people together,” Harris said.

Before working at Wilson, Harris directed musicals at Janney Elementary School and Alice Deal Middle School.

Harris is also part of a band that performs at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Howard Theater, and on H Street. Her love for strong female singers is one thing that inspired her to make a change in the Wilson theater department.

Harris is excited to teach Wilson students valuable lessons about working together and growing. “Everything is improved through art, and the dedicated students and amazing program drew me to take this position. I look forward to working with the amazing students this year,” she said.