The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Alexandria Meets ‘Outer Banks’


Interview with ‘Outer Banks’ and ‘Jessie Star’ Charles Esten

Salma El Gourchal and Andres Huenneke

Staff Writers

Whether he’s playing fun Hollywood director dad as Morgan Ross from “Jessie” or a power-hungry dad who is willing to risk everything in pursuit of wealth as Ward Cameron from “Outer Banks,” actor, and ACHS alumnus Charles Esten is sure to leave an impression.

Esten, known as Chip among friends and family, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1965, then moved to his mom’s hometown, Alexandria. Esten attended Matthew Maury (now Naomi L. Brooks) and Lyles-Crouch Elementary Schools, and Parker-Gray Middle School. He also attended George Washington High School (now a middle school) for his freshman year before completing high school at T.C Williams (now ACHS). 

Charles ‘Chip’ Esten flashes a smile in his senior year yearbook photo.

Esten, a class of 1983 graduate, looks back to his memories of growing up in Alexandria with nostalgia. He described his deep love for the city and reminisced on his frequent walks to Old Town after school with friends. 

“I consider it to be a blessing to be from there”, Esten said, holding the city close to his heart wherever he goes.

Esten had nothing but positive words to describe his time at T.C. “It felt like a community…I didn’t feel lost, the teachers and the administration all established the vibe of the place, and they were awesome.” 

He described T.C. as having typical cliques but explained that even those who were different from each other got along well. Esten recalled his “great group of friends” that helped him throughout high school. He was also highly involved in Titan athletics and clubs; he played varsity football, was a pole vaulter, and was a member of the Key Club. 

Esten poses as Julius Caesar on the senior class homecoming float.

He poked fun at his high school life as well. “I was a bit of a troublemaker at school,” Esten recalled. He described T.C. as a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds where people were constantly learning from one another. “I loved it.”

Growing up, Esten was always interested in the Arts, though never really took his passion seriously until a significant moment of his life in High School: The T.C. Williams Student Talent Shows. “The talent shows were the real deal man; these places were packed,” he said. Whether it was cracking jokes to the audience or singing the song “Dream” by the Waverly Brothers with friend and fellow actor Kieran Mulroney– brother of actor Dermot Mulroney (also a T.C. Alum and English teacher Taki Sidley’s childhood best friend), Esten loved the feeling of making people feel emotions.

 “That became something I was addicted to whether it was acting or comedy or music,” Esten stated. “T.C. Williams was the place that made it for me.”

Esten has acted in many shows on top of “Jessie” and “Outer Banks.” Most notable are” Nashville,” “Whose Line is it Anyway?,” and “The Office,” with “Nashville” being his favorite to act in due to his role infusing both music and acting. Esten was always out working hard and constantly learning to become the best that he can be, and it was obvious the work was paying off.

Esten faced a major setback when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer. For three years,  there were constant trips from home to chemotherapy which required a lot of focus from him. “In LA there were a lot of jobs that I wanted but I couldn’t get, and I was upset with those at the time. But, when my daughter was diagnosed, it made me realize how minuscule everything else was,” he said. That setback made me realize that life brings things to you that you can’t be prepared for.” He and his family were able to work through it, and his daughter is healthy now. 

On top of acting, Charles Esten is a musician as well. “I was always singing when my mom took me through the grocery store when I was younger,” he said. Esten also recalled how in third grade there was a contest to create a new song for his elementary school to change a Disney song into a school song and ended up winning, making the Maury school song. While attending William and Mary for college, he lost his grandma and he turned to music to cope. 

“I poured my heart out and I felt that I really tapped into her and it really opened me up…When my family members heard it, it healed them [as well.]”

From left, actor and Titan Alumnus Kieran Mulroney and Chip Esten perform at a school talent show.

Around that time, he met and organized a band with fellow classmates at William and Mary “…and it took off from there.” Currently, regarding music, Esten has some big news to share: “As ‘Outer Banks’ was winding down, I focused on music and I have an album coming out soon and the first single is now out!” 

Esten is optimistic about the future of acting. “As I came up in acting you had to go to Los Angeles or New York and get a network show and audition there but now you have your phone… Write if you wanna be an actor– write some scenes for yourself. You can go out and do things for yourself so there is no excuse,” he said. 

“You can’t say that there’s no way to act.”


A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Esten’s wife had cancer, instead of his daughter. Theogony sincerely apologizes for this mistake, which has been corrected.

June 7, 2023

All photos courtesy of Charles Esten

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Alexandria Meets ‘Outer Banks’