Paul Richard Yarborough was born Paul Richard Shafer in Durham, North Carolina on March 26, 1976 and grew up in Charlotte. He began his performance career playing trumpet in his high school’s traditional, high-step marching band. On graduating from high school, Yarborough decided to study music as a trumpet major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), but after one year of college he switched his main instrument from trumpet to voice, performing as a singer for the first time as a chorus member in a school production of the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. Yarborough began acting in his third year of college with a performance as Charlie Cotchipee in the musical Purlie at the historically black university North Carolina A&T State University, which was just down the road from where he was in school at UNCG.
Yarborough’s interest in singing led him to Boston University, where he earned a Master's degree in Voice Performance in 2004. As a classically-trained bass-baritone, Yarborough has sung in several operas, including Turandot and Madame Butterfly. After graduating from Boston University, Yarborough turned his attention to stage acting and began auditioning at theatres around Boston. For several years, he found small but rewarding roles. One of Yarborough’s memorable theatrical experiences was playing dual roles in a production of Chekhov's The Seagull in Chelsea, a town just outside of Boston with a significant Spanish-speaking population. The play was performed in English and Spanish on alternating nights, and after being cast in the English-language version, Yarborough learned Spanish so he could play a role in the Spanish-language version as well.
Gradually, acting became a professional pursuit for Yarborough and he got jobs at some of the larger theatre companies in the Boston area, such as the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. Yarborough’s film career got off to an inauspicious start when he was cast in a small role in the 2008 Bruce Willis film Surrogates, but wasn’t filmed. Better luck followed, though, and since then Yarborough has appeared in the 2014 HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" and the 2018 Hulu series "Castle Rock".
Over the years, Yarborough has enjoyed lending his talents to student films and special independent film projects. He also likes to maintain projects of his own. In 2015, Yarborough wrote, produced, and performed in "Nesting Dolls", a play about a sister and brother who are trying to decide whether to give their comatose sister a full-body transplant. Yarborough’s writing is on display in his YouTube series "The Enlightened Redneck" as well. He also practices piano daily and is working on producing an audiobook recording of British author P.G. Wodehouse’s comic series Jeeves and Wooster.