Chris Minor, Fine Arts


What’s your name and what do you teach My name is Chris Minor (Mr. Minor, to my students). I teach Theatre Workshop, Arts Appreciation, and Acting. I also direct and assistant direct after school productions

How long have you been teaching at Niles North? Technically, I’ve been a teacher at Niles North for three years but my first year was our remote learning year, which was a completely different kind of teaching, so I’ve really only been teaching for two years.

What is your favorite part about your job? My favorite part of the job is my students. You all are hysterical and interesting and fun to be around and, yes, frustrating, at times. The cool part about teaching is that even though it’s very, very based in routine, each day is also very different depending on students. But you all keep me on my toes and teach me so much as well. 

You have starred in many productions in a variety of states and theaters, which has been your favorite? I would have to say my favorite show so far in my career has been a play called Sweat by Lynn Nottage. It is a script I love. I actually saw the Broadway production of it while I was in New York auditioning (the first and, to this day, only Broadway play I have seen) and I remember leaving the theater just emotionally wrecked. It was such a good play (it won the Pulitzer Prize that year). I actually called my mom as soon as I got outside and said “I can’t wait to play that role” (one of the main characters in that play is, ironically, named Chris). As the universe would have it, the next year I got to play that role at a prestigious theatre in Florida, with a director I admire, and a cast of really talented, veteran actors, and, because of where the contract dates fell, I spent the entire winter in Sarasota so, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to deal with the cold for a whole year! It was all kind of perfect.

You have also made television appearances for big distributors such as Showtime and AMC, how did those opportunities come to you and how was the television experience? So one of the actors in that show in Florida is a big time Chicago actor, his agent came to see him in the play and ended up asking to meet with me. He is now my agent so he is the one who got me those roles on television. The television experience is so much different than theatre. One of the biggest differences is how stop-start it is. Literally every part of every scene has multiple shots and angles so you’re constantly shooting and then the cameras have to reset for a different angle so you have to wait. There are literally times where you might be delivering your lines to a wall or a broom or nothing at all because of where the camera is but, because of editing, it looks like you’re talking to the other actor. It’s crazy. Theatre is much more repetition and rehearsal based and you rehearse in the order of the script. Film is shot out of sequence so sometimes the last scene of the show we watched might have been the very first thing the actors shot. It’s just a different animal.

You also used to play soccer, how far did you get and when did you realize it was time to change paths? 

Soccer was the main thing I did from the time I was three until a few years ago actually. I was fortunate enough to play at a really really high level in college and actually had the chance to play professionally but injuries, mainly to my ankles, took a toll and I realized I needed something I loved just as much as soccer to focus on. I did some theatre as a kid and in high school so theatre became the new “soccer” in my life. 

How would you compare the feeling before the opening night of a play and before a big game of soccer? I tell athletes in my class all the time that sports and theatre are surprisingly similar and the feeling before a game and a show are really the same. You have the butterflies in your stomach (no matter how many athletes tell you they don’t get them, they’re lying, they do) and you have an audience watching you that adds to it. When I did my first show in high school, my theatre director actually suggested to me that I do the exact same things before a show that I would do before a soccer game. To this day, my pre-show warm up is almost the same as my pregame warm up: listening to hype music (mainly Jay Z or Kendrick Lamar), stretching, deep breathing and focus, and, as always, finding something to laugh at at least once. It sounds weird but I’m telling you a real laugh before a game or show (or a test in class) relaxes you. Try it, I promise you it will help.

Favorite musician, show, and movie? My favorite musicians are a tie between John Legend and Kendrick Lamar. J Cole and Queen are up there too. Favorite show is the old school Twilight Zone or Atlanta. Favorite movie is The Lion King (the old one). 

Is there anything else you would like us to know? Take theatre classes. I don’t only say that because I teach them but also they really are a great way to make friends and do something completely different in your day. My theatre class in high school was the first class that I didn’t have to sit in desks and felt like it was actually a good thing to talk and work with my friends. Our classes are the same way. Take them. Seriously. You won’t regret it and, who knows, you might find you actually like it.