“Theatre brings community together, and it’s important for theatre to continue to bring the Waterloo Region together as it has for many years.”
What was it like growing up in the Waterloo Region?
Growing up in the Waterloo Region was a wonderful experience. It’s an area that has a little bit of everything to offer. The downtown city, the suburban neighbourhoods, the countryside, the forests, and the Grand River as well. I felt very lucky to be able to live just outside of the city in the country, yet still have access to the wonderful city community. One of the things that I love the most about the Waterloo Region, is its arts community. The region offers plenty of different arts opportunities for both the young and the old, and supports its artists in many ways. Growing up, there were many different ways for me to explore the arts, and I feel very lucky to have been in a community where these opportunities existed. It’s a great area to grow up in as an aspiring artist, and I’m very excited that Unwrap Theatre is providing more outlets for theatre in the community!
Describe your process to becoming a professional artist. What would you pass on to others considering the profession part-time or full-time?
My process to becoming a professional artist began at a very young age. It all started when I began dance lessons at age 3. I immediately fell in love with dance and performing. I was in my first community theatre musical “Bye Bye Birdie” at age 7, and I loved performing in the musical just as much as I loved dance. This led me to start taking voice lessons, and continue to take part in community shows through The Singers Theatre, and Kitchener Waterloo Musical Productions. The big event that cemented my dream to be a professional artist was when I was cast in two shows at The Stratford Festival as a child (“Oliver” and “The Music Man”). Being a child actor in these two shows taught me what it means to be a professional performer, and I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do as my career. For the rest of my childhood, I performed as much as possible, and trained as much as I could. While in Grade 12, I auditioned for the Young Company at The Charlottetown Festival. This is a training program for young aspiring performers where you get the opportunity to perform and train in Charlottetown, PEI. Getting accepted into the program ultimately led to the start of my adult professional career as I was cast in the main company of The Charlottetown Festival 2 years later.
Being surrounded by some of the best actors in Canada, and seeing the process of what it takes to perform, showed me at a young age just how much work goes into being an actor.
What would you pass on to others considering the profession part-time or full-time?
I would pass on to others that this is a career choice that comes with a lot of highs and lows. The process of auditioning for shows, and the uncertainty of finding paid performance work can make for some tough days. However, the joy of performing when you are hired in a production is definitely worth all of the tough days. I would also pass along that it’s a great idea to brainstorm what other things you’re passionate about, and see if you can turn that into side work. This profession is filled with lots of contract based work, so you will have busy months, and then months with nothing. Finding something else to occupy your time during the dead months that interests you and can make you some money is a wonderful idea!
Can you talk about your experience as a child actor working at the Stratford Festival? What was this like in the room? How did this affect your everyday life?
Working at The Stratford Festival as a child had a huge impact on me. It introduced me to what it means to be a professional actor, and I immediately fell in love with performing professionally and wanted to do nothing else. Being surrounded by some of the best actors in Canada, and seeing the process of what it takes to perform, showed me at a young age just how much work goes into being an actor. I got to see first hand, the energy and effort of rehearsing daily and performing up to 8 times a week.
Performing in “Oliver” and “The Music Man” definitely affected my everyday life as a child in a huge way. The shows took precedence over everything else in my life including school, dance, family holidays, and even sports/outdoor activities. My family was a huge support, and drove me back and forth to Stratford many times a week for rehearsals and for the shows. I missed school for rehearsals and shows, and wasn’t allowed to do competitive dance. I missed out on family vacations, and wasn’t allowed to do any sports (like skiing). However, with all of that said, I wouldn’t have changed anything about it for the world. I absolutely LOVED my time performing in these shows as a kid, and wished they could have gone on forever. I am super grateful for the experience, and beyond grateful to my family for supporting me through the busyness of performing in these shows as a child.
I made sure to take everything one step at a time. I tried not to think about what I still had ahead of me, and just focused on what was directly in front of me.
You have worked for multiple seasons now at the Charlottetown Festival in PEI, including having performed as the understudy for Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. Can you tell us about life on this side of the country? What keeps you returning year after year?
Working at The Charlottetown Festival in PEI has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve had the pleasure of working there for six seasons in a row, and over that time I have grown immensely as an artist and performer. The Charlottetown Festival is a wonderful theatre festival that supports the development of young artists through it’s Young Company, and produces a broad range of professional theatre. It’s very supportive of its cast and crew, which makes the festival feel like a second family. On top of the theatre festival being a wonderful place to work, being on Prince Edward Island during the summer is a beautiful experience. The island feels like a secret hideaway with a laid back atmosphere and beaches everywhere. The combination of working with fabulous artists, performing in engaging shows, and being on a beautiful island truly
makes for a Golden Summer year after year.
What is one of your fondest memories working in the industry?
One of my fondest memories of working in the industry is the first time I went on as Anne Shirley in “Anne of Green Gables” at The Charlottetown Festival. I had understudied the role for two seasons but had yet to perform it. Having the chance to perform such an incredible role after years of working on it was overwhelming in such a fabulous way. The cast and crew were so supportive, and made me feel welcomed and encouraged throughout the whole process. Performing as Anne at The Charlottetown Festival is something I only dreamed about as a kid. I never imagined that I would get to a place in my life where that would be a reality. I don’t think I will ever forget what it felt like at the end of the performance, knowing that I had accomplished that dream.
Pushing yourself to continue to grow as an artist can sometimes be a hard thing to do; however, it is so important in this career. There is always something that you can work on, and new things that you can learn.
What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
When I’m not doing theatre, one of my favourite things to do is enjoy nature. I grew up in a forest, so I’ve always loved hiking, camping, and being outdoors. I also love to read, and so I spend a lot of my down time reading new books or re-reading favourites. I recently started studying computer science while in between contracts as a way to learn something new, and to potentially build a side career for myself. I also love to take a wide variety of dance classes, as well as teach dance to a wide variety of kids.
Describe a time when you felt stressed or overwhelmed. How did you handle it?
A time when I felt stressed and overwhelmed was right at the end of my four years of university. I attended Pace University in New York City where I studied Musical Theatre and Commercial Dance. At the end of the four years of school, you have a “Senior Showcase”, where you perform for all the top agents and casting directors in New York City. For me, this showcase landed on April 30th . However, I was hired to perform in The Charlottetown Festival that summer, and rehearsals were also starting on April 30th . Thankfully, the team at The Charlottetown Festival were understanding and allowed me to miss the first two days of rehearsal, which I will always be extremely grateful for. I definitely felt overwhelmed during this time with the stress of performing for NYC agents and saying goodbye to my classmates, rushing to fly to Charlottetown, and then catching up on two days of rehearsal all within three days! However, I made sure to take everything one step at a time. I tried not to think about what I still had ahead of me, and just focused on what was directly in front of me. This helped me feel like I could accomplish everything, as it didn’t feel like a massive amount of work, it felt like a to do list that I could check off one item at a time.
How do you monitor and motivate your growth as an artist? As a person?
I like to set broad goals for myself, and make to do lists in order to monitor and motivate myself. Pushing yourself to continue to grow as an artist can sometimes be a hard thing to do; however, it is so important in this career. There is always something that you can work on, and new things that you can learn. I like to brainstorm big goals that I would like to accomplish (ex. learning how to play the guitar) and then make a to do list each day that includes working on this big goal. I can stroke off the to do list as I finish each task, which makes me feel like I’m accomplishing a step towards my goal.
I feel like I have so many more dreams that I want to achieve. It’s a never ending cycle.
If your life was a musical, what would the title be?
“Pursuing the Dream” – I feel like my whole life, ever since I first caught the performing bug, I’ve been pursing the dream of having a career as a professional artist. Now that I have worked professionally, I feel like I have so many more dreams that I want to achieve. It’s a never ending cycle.
Why do you think theatre is important for the Waterloo Region?
I believe that theatre is extremely important for the Waterloo Region and for the whole world. It’s an outlet for emotion, that gives people a chance to breath, express, and feel in a safe environment. Theatre gives people a chance to get away from their daily stress, and exist in a different world for a period of time. It allows them to think about things in a new way, and explore situations from a different point of view than their own. I believe that theatre increases people’s empathy towards others, and allows them to connect with what someone else is going through. It also has the ability to spread joy and lightness, which is super important! Theatre brings community together, and it’s important for theatre to continue to bring the Waterloo Region together as it has for many years.