On March 28, 2023 Chris Zahariev was a guest lecturer for Logos’ Lectures Culture Building 101, organized the Logos student club. The event gave Greti Georgieva, AUBG student in journalism, the opportunity to have an interview with Chris, which was later turned into a profile piece for the class Advanced Writing for Media, part of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department. The article was originally written and published in April 2023.
Basketball, piano, singing, dancing, painting, acting, filming, editing, and latte art on top.
Chris Zahariev knows all about it and more.
Since a young age, he has been experimenting with various activities in search of his life-long passion. At some point his parents wanted him to choose just one sphere of interest. In the end, the object of all his time and attention became drawing. He was so immersed in the process of making comics, that he did not want to go outside and play with the other kids. The years of extensive work paid off with him entering the National Highschool of Fine Arts in Sofia.
“It was a little bit like a hide-and-seek game,” Chris says. “That is something that I always tell people when they ask me ‘How can I find what I am good at?’ Just try.”
The beginning of it all
When he was in tenth grade, he followed his own advice and yet again tried something new – opening a YouTube channel by the name of That Boy Chris.
“Don’t watch my old videos, please! It’s painful,” laughed Chris when recalling the beginning of his vlogging career. “I haven’t deleted them, because they are part of my history, but I pretend that they don’t exist.”
Sixteen-year-old Chris certainly had not expected the impact that his one-acts and vlogs would have on his life and even his career choice. The time he spent on shooting and learning how to film, edit and sound design uncovered a new passion of his which overshadowed his initial strive for attending the National Academy of Arts. He had to choose again just one sphere in which to further develop his skills. The choice was filming and he continued his path at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts (NATFA).
In the meantime, That Boy Chris became Chris Zahariev, a name that a whole generation of young people, including me, grew up with. His videos were never dull. From presenting the struggles of high school in a funny way, through completing challenges with other vloggers, to expressing his philosophy on love, life, friendship, the power of gratitude and the beauty of Bulgaria. Chris became one of my role models and the only Bulgarian YouTube creator I actively followed.
His popularity among the teens and pre-teens had him as a speaker for multiple causes. He was also a host for a TV show on the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) and one of the anchors of Bulgaria’s Got Talent. All of that was happening beside his full-time studies and directing of four short films, which can be watched on his YouTube channel.
If you thought that he was busy back then, think again. Today Chris is a professional director who works on multiple projects of his own and occasionally works as a freelance director as well. When I first contacted him about the interview, he was wrapping up a four-hour-long show for L’OREAL. Apart from that, he has three companies - Храбър* (Hrabar*), a fashion brand helping desolated Bulgarian villages, for which he is co-founder and creative director, Razkaz Studio, a production company, for which he is a creative and film director, and DRUGO, an independent music label which is still under development.
He is also the director of the music videos of the Bulgarian rap duo Molec, which has recently gained huge popularity among the Bulgarian youth.
Chris behind the scenes
His multiple professional successes and the fame he has gained throughout the years, though, have not gone to his head. “Despite being recognized everywhere, he acts the most humbly in the room,” says Samuil Iliev, a great friend of Chris and a fellow colleague of mine from AUBG. “Every time I am around him, he is sharing about a new idea he has or about his dreams.” What is more, for Samuil Chris is “one of these people that are burning so strongly that they set others on fire. They are very rare and valuable.”
Throughout my interview with Chris, which subtly became a friendly conversation, I could also feel that inner fire inciting his passion for creation and for life. No wonder why he is buzzing with different projects all the time - creation equals life.
Such an occupied person must also be quite disciplined and organized, right? Well, not really.
“I don’t see myself as a disciplined person, as some people see me,” he laughs. “I’m a bit chaotic. I’m a bit messy.”
Still, he mentions that when there is work that needs to be done, he focuses on the task and is determined to finish it no matter how long it takes him to.
When I asked him what his secret for productivity and time management was, he simply answered “I don’t know.”
“Time management is something that I’m trying to find the balance of for years now,” he says. “It’s like juggling, in a way. You have to prioritize.”
He told me about the burnouts he had last year. In May he was hospitalized because he could not move the left half of his body.
“I saw with my eyes and my body where my limits are. And so now that I know where my limits are, I know that it’s not a good idea to push towards the edge of my limits,” he says. “Prioritizing you and your time is as important as prioritizing work.”
His way of relaxing is through traveling and spending time in nature. Since Chris has visited more than 10 countries on three continents, I had to ask him about his adventures around the world. He was more than enthusiastic to tell me all about it.
A feeling of light and pleasant sentimentality filled the air when he started describing to me his road trip in Italy that he had two years ago.
“In the evening the whole family gathers outside. They drink wine, they eat pizza, they eat pasta, they laugh. The kids are playing, there is music all around. It’s just like they’ve cracked the code of what living in a community looks like, and living just in love with life.”
Chris also shared that he would like to visit Italy again. Before this trip though, he mentioned that he had already prepared yet another one. In May he will be a speaker on a TEDx conference in Austria. From there to Sofia will travel by train, stopping in countries he has never been to, such as Switzerland and Hungary.
Chris’ philosophy on life
Talking about his life, he says that he owes everything that he has experienced to his faith and the confidence it has given him. Even though he has grown up in a Christian household, his parents have never pushed him forcefully to follow the religion. He has found his own way to faith, and now finds great creative inspiration in it, since God is the greatest Artist.
“Creating is an act of worship,” he quotes Erwin McManus.
Being a creation of God, Chris uses the divine creativity in him to build a culture for the young people, the proper atmosphere for them to continue living in Bulgaria, “to have the example of honest people who can succeed with art in Bulgaria.”
Through his faith he knows that nothing is impossible and that there are no coincidences. If a dream is given to him, it comes from God, and he has the capabilities to fulfill it. When I asked him whether there had been a point in his life in which he felt doubtful about his skills, he told me that it happens often. In his job, he does a lot of things for the first time, every project is different. The people with whom he works are also different. In such times, he reminds himself of the quote: “When God opens the door, you belong in the room.”
Even though things do not always go as planned, and there are difficulties, Chris Zahariev says that “the big storms in life produce the most beautiful sunrises.”
Whether through a new music video, a short film, or a campaign, the future sunrises and sunsets hold many stories waiting to be revealed, and Chris’ favorite is the next to be told. He himself looks at his life as one big story which is to be continued…