Rebecca Perry and Christian Lloyd on the business of acting
You wear many hats and are never just an actor. That is what Rebecca Perry and Christian Lloyd, two George Brown College (GBC) theatre program alumni, have learned over time.
Both GBC grads recently won BroadwayWorld Toronto Awards, with Perry being recognized for her solo show Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl both as a writer and an actress, and Lloyd for his performance in The Heart of Robin Hood.While both are now finding success, each actor has taken a few turns away from acting to get here.
Though Lloyd took drama in high school, he said he was too scared of the highs and lows of actor’s career. After doing a one-person show on obsessive-compulsive disorder as a final assignment in high school, he took off to Guelph University to do a science degree.
After Perry played her first role as a female lead in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in school, she knew she wanted to be on stage. But when she graduated from GBC in 2010, she had to get a job at a coffee shop.
She made it work for her though, using the opportunity to hone her craft. Just like her favourite scientist Jane Goodall used to study chimpanzees, Perry was taking notes on her customers. At some point, there was enough material for a show.
The success of her first show Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl was inspiring for Perry. “Writing kept me going and enabled me to keep acting,” she said.
For Lloyd, participating in a second-semester play at Guelph opened his eyes. Having completed his degree in human biology, he realized he wanted to pursue acting after all. “The degree was my way of not dealing with what I wanted to do,” he said.
Lloyd applied to several theatre schools, did not get into any. He was on a waiting list for George Brown, ready to drop everything. However, someone withdrew and Lloyd got in.
“Of Toronto programs, GBC had the best one in terms of teachers who were still in the field, its accessibility and hands-on conservatory training,” Lloyd said. “That is what you really want as an actor.”
Perry picked George Brown as a theatre school not only because it had the most comprehensive program, she said, but also because it offered a business skills for actors class. “This really sold me on GBC.”
“They were teaching us as much as they possibly could,” said Perry. Thanks to George Brown, she also discovered a knack to play unusual people, a little crazy or somewhat corky. In April, Perry will be returning to GBC as a guest speaker in business of acting class.
Perry thinks that maintaining relationships with your classmates is important for actors. “My class kept employing each other after graduation, so don’t make enemies and support each other because the first few years are tough,” she said.
Going through George Brown, Lloyd knew one day he would do a transition to movies. While theatre disappears as soon as the moment is gone, “cinema” he said, “can be held on to forever.”
“The whole point of being successful in this career is being so busy in your own stuff that phone calls interrupt your work,” said Lloyd.