Harrison Houde always wanted to do a comedy-kid show while growing up in Qualicum Beach.
He achieved that goal in 2014 while still a student at Kwalikum Secondary School. He successfully auditioned for the role of Bowie Sherman in YTV’s and Netflix original sitcom ‘Some Assembly Required’, which lasted three seasons.
“It was a dream come true for me at the time,” said Houde, who prior to the TV series already appeared in the 2010 American movie ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and also hosted the educational children’s science show ‘Finding Out Stuff’, in which he won a Canadian Screen Award in 2016. “It lasted three seasons and it changed my life.”
When the sitcom ended, Houde ventured out to Hollywood in Los Angeles and hired an agent. Houde said the work that he did in ‘Some Assembly Required’ helped him land a myriad of work on television and movies that include ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’, Disney XD’s ‘Pants on Fire’, ‘Rogue’, CW’s ‘iZombie’, ‘The Hollow’ and ‘Summer of ’84’.
“Booking a show like that opens up so many more opportunities,” said Houde, who is also a musician, composer and arranger. He has also added filmmaking and writing to his artistic repertoire.
The 24-year-old Houde, who graduated from KSS in 2014, recently got re-acquainted with some of his former teachers in School District 69 while he was conducting an acting class online via Zoom that was initiated by Jacqui Kaese, who is also a former mentor and is the artisitic director and founder of Spotlight Academy.
“It was pretty cool to see them there,” said Houde. “A lot of them were very supportive of my goals and helped in so many ways. For the most part, Parksville Qualicum Beach has awesome school district and really good teachers. My teachers from KSS and OMS as well really impacted my life.”
Jeremy Conn, who now teaches at Ballenas Secondary, remembers Houde during his time at KSS. Conn indicated he had Houde in his science class for only week but heard a lot of talk about him from students that he was going to be a successful actor one day.
“I didn’t know what happened to him,” said Conn. “But recently my daughter was in an acting class and the same kid is teaching the class. He was going through his credentials and talking about the show that he was in. A show my kids used to watch when they were younger, ‘Some Assembly Required’. Oh my God, that’s the same kid. It was a pretty big deal. And he was going through his experience down in Hollywood and stuff that he’s been doing now. I said ‘wow, this is pretty impressive. This is a success story for our school district.’”
Another former teacher of Houde was Bruce Martin, who taught at Oceanside Middle School. He said “it is so cool to see a past student achieve success.”
“He was a fun kid and always provided leadership. He was focused for a middle school student and always prepared. He provided a great deal of inspiration to future drama classes as I always mentioned him as an example of the success dedication to the craft could bring.”
Houde finds it gratifying to now find himself mentoring some of his former teachers’ children. It reminded him of how he started.
“I remember calling my mom after our first session that there were a bunch of teenagers from the Island, like 13, 14, 15 years old,” said Houde. “I was just like them in Qualicum, auditioning and doing acting classes. I was happy to see that and hopefully I can teach them something. If they can take away something from my lessons, I would be super happy. It’s such a good feeling.”
Houde has been honing his writing skills in recent years. He said he’s learning from directors, producers and other writers and just finished the first draft of a comedy feature.
“I have been super passionate about this idea since I graduated from KSS,” said Houde. “It’s all based around Qualicum, KSS grad, just the town itself and the people. It’s loosely based on Qualicum Beach and I am pretty excited about it. It’s freaking hilarious.”
Houde indicated that if all goes well, he hopes to be back in Qualicum Beach next year to film a movie.