“I’m a big advocate of keeping our aquatic life as-is, which is impossible at this point. [But] there are things we can reverse in our lifetime. That we can keep from happening.“ These organizations strive to make sure that we have swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water. And that it’s all our right as citizens of the planet, to have access to clean water.”
by Frances Rossini
photography by Gregg Delman
Rachael Harris is the fun-loving, hilarious blonde that you’ve seen on shows such as The Daily Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the irresistible, I Love the 80s/90s. A few amazing films she’s been in are Best in Show, Daddy Day Care, and The Hangover—so, pretty much, it seems like everything she touches has a cult following or massive, comedic appeal. But after talking with Rachael, we learned that she isn’t just the super funny gal we know and love; she’s also quite passionate about her causes, her middle-America roots, and her new project.
“Blackfish” is the latest craze in Netflix’s documentary canon. It flawlessly unveils the cruelty killer whales endure while in captivity, and something we spotted her tweet about.
“I like water,” is her affinity in a nutshell, having worked with organizations like Oceana and Waterkeeper. “I’m a big advocate of keeping our aquatic life as-is, which is impossible at this point. [But] that there are things we can reverse in our lifetime. That we can keep from happening.“ These organizations strive to make sure that we have swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water. And that it’s all our right as citizens of the planet, to have access to clean water. “Waterkeeper is bringing awareness to people that might not necessarily realize that our waterways are being polluted… that we have dangerous levels of mercury in our fish, that sea turtles are becoming extinct because of overzealous fisherman who scrape the bottom of the ocean floor with nets that disrupt the whole ecosystem of the ocean floor taking coral that have been there for thousands of years, it’s not like it will just grow back next summer.”
Rachael spreads awareness about her causes with comedy and her friends. She name drops fellow comedians Angela McKenzie and Cheryl Hines. “We do these fun things together because we’re truly, dear old friends. [Back then] we were in the groundings, making $15 a week. But Angela and I did the Oceana video about sea turtles. We thought we could do something funny and raise awareness.” Rachael stresses that even if people don’t know what to do, it’s the simple things that make a difference.
Before Rachael was appearing in the modern comedic classics and having the clout to spread awareness through her popularity, she was a small-town, Worthington, Ohio resident—a place with only about population of 15,000. “The older I get the more I appreciate Ohio. I’m so grateful that I grew up there. It gives me compassion.” Rachael understands the Midwest with such an intuition that only develops if you’ve grown up there yourself.
The drastic transition from a rural place to an urban metropolis was a culture shock to say the least. “When I first moved to New York, I was so overwhelmed with how loud everything was and how fast everything moved… or that you didn’t know the person that worked at the grocery store. It was a big, big transition.” Coming from a population that is only a fraction of the bustling Big Apple, it’s a wonder she didn’t faint on the spot! “I’m very happy living in New York and LA. [Ohio] is a wonderful place to go home to, but I
wouldn’t want to live there full time. I just think that it’s not for me. For some people it’s the perfect slice of heaven. It’s like, ‘whatever works for you,’ is my motto.”
Fast-forward from her humble, hometown beginnings, and Rachael currently stars in the new show on FOX, Surviving Jack. It’s a show about the teenage life of Shit My Dad Says’ creator, Justin Halpern. Harris co-stars with the ruggedly handsome Christopher Meloni. The show takes place in the early 90s and is on point with the pop culture of the decade from every angle—clothing, music, storyline, basically visual nostalgia for anyone familiar with the era.
Rachael is very in tune with the feel of the show. “There’s a real story going on with [the] characters. I love that Chris [Meloni, her husband on the show] and I really, really love each other. But we’ll also call each other out on our shit. And at points we hate our kids, we love our kids, we’re embarrassed by our kids and they’re embarrassed by us. We’re not caricatures of someone’s life, these are real people from Justin’s life.”