Orestimba High School senior Damaris Fregoso will certainly have the strangest senior photo in her school’s yearbook, and it all started with a single tweet at one o’clock in the morning.
Fregoso has been a fan of actor David Harbour ever since she first saw his portrayal of Jim Hopper, the lovable Chief of Police on Netflix’s hit show “Stranger Things.” When it came time to take senior photos for her school’s yearbook, she knew that if she wanted her photos to stand out there was only one person she wanted to join her.
“I started watching (‘Stranger Things’) with my cousin, and ever since then I was like ‘this is good.’ It captures you episode after episode,” Fregoso told 209 Magazine. “(Harbour) is a funny character in the show, and I like funny characters.”
Today’s social media apps, like Twitter, allow fans to be closer to their favorite celebrities than ever before, and it’s become commonplace for fans to trade “retweets,” which are similar to Facebook “shares” but on Twitter, for meetings, photos and more.
At 1:08 a.m. on Oct. 29, Fregoso decided to take a chance and ask Harbour to take her senior photos with her through a question posed on Twitter.
“.@DavidKHarbour how many retweets for you to take my senior photos with me,” she tweeted the actor, not sure if she would get a response.
“It was a late night. I was like ‘I want his attention,’ but I don’t know why I ever thought 1 a.m. would be the perfect time,” said Fregoso. “It was the perfect time though, because I caught him at the right moment…I was just trying to get him to reply to me and it worked.”
Less than 20 minutes after her original tweet, Harbour responded to Fregoso on Twitter with a challenge: if the high school senior could amass 25,000 retweets on her original tweet, then he would take her senior pictures with her. Known for his humor, Harbour added that if Fregoso accomplished the feat, then he would also like to wear an OHS sweatshirt and hold a trombone in the photos.
When Fregoso heard her phone chime with Harbour’s response, she couldn’t believe it.
“I was shaking,” she said. “I wanted to yell, but it was late and everyone was sleeping. My hands would not stop shaking.”
Prior to Harbour’s senior photo challenge, the most retweets any of Fregoso’s posts on Twitter had received was about five, she said. To receive 25,000 would be impossible, she thought.
“I never thought I was going to meet his goal,” she said.
In less than 24 hours, Fregoso’s original tweet to Harbour received over 30,000 retweets, and Harbour’s response with his challenge for Fregoso received 28,000. The tweets quickly went viral, with “Stranger Things” fans from all around the world cheering on Fregoso in her quest to get the retweets needed to meet Harbour. Other actors from the show even joined in on the action, asking their own followers to retweet Fregoso’s original post.
When the goal was met, Harbour immediately messaged Fregoso, she said.
“He said, ‘So you gonna get the sweatshirts?’” said Fregoso.
She sent him a couple of options, and Harbour ultimately picked a black OHS sweatshirt that he wore in the pictures.
What happened next was a blur. Harbour’s agent made arrangements for the family to travel to Los Angeles, and in mid-January, Fregoso finally met Chief Jim Hopper. Harbour brought a trombone, as promised, and kept Fregoso laughing in pictures as he jumped behind her with pom poms. The two took a few serious shots, of course, but Fregoso remembers the day as one that was filled with hilarity – even though she was a bit star struck.
“When I was talking to him online it felt so normal, like he’s just a regular guy, but then once I met him I was trying to act normal but all I could say is ‘hi,’” she said. “I had a list of what I was going to ask him, and I didn’t ask anything.”
Harbour in real life is eerily similar to his “Stranger Things” character, Fregoso added.
“I feel like honestly, there’s a parallel. He’s so funny in real life, too, and in the show he’s sweet and he’s sweet in real life,” she said.
Fregoso is hoping that her school allows the photo with Harbour in the yearbook, but if not, she will always have the photos to remember the day she met one of her favorite actors. Since her story went viral, countless opportunities have come Fregoso’s way, including an appearance on the MTV show “Total Request Live.”
For others who dream of meeting their idols, Fregoso had some encouraging advice.
“I feel like they should go for it, because anything can happen,” she said. “You don’t know until you try, and people should really try because you never know – maybe it’s five in the morning and your favorite character happens to be up and bam, there you go.”