BWW Interview: Olivia Lepore, EMERGING TALENT MONTREAL, STUDENT EDITION at John Abbott Casgrain Studio Theater
Every spring, a group of performers take their final bows in their last performance as theater students. This moment marks a turning point in any student's experience, encouraging reflection and subsequent planning for the next step in their careers. The BWW Montreal Emerging Talent, Student Edition aims to highlight students who have been recognized by their faculty as up-and-coming talents in the Montreal performing arts community. They are accomplished performers who have distinguished themselves with their work ethic, character and talent and aim to pursue a career in the performing arts after graduation.
Today's edition features Olivia Lepore, a John Abbott College Theater Student, who will be graduating from the Professional Theater Program this year. Olivia is currently featured in a lead female role in Gut Girls, playing at the John Abbott Casgrain Studio Theater. She has already received a fair amount of recognition, winning a Theater Proficiency and Best Actor award in High School and being nominated by her peers for a Class Distinction award in the long-standing theater company Theatre West located in Point-Claire, QC. Olivia's talent appears to be equally matched by her driven and collaborative character, qualities that make her a positive force in the artistic work environment. Here is what Olivia shared with BWW Montreal about her journey as an artist and goals for the future:
What sparked your passion for the performing arts? A play you saw? A specific moment in your life? There isn't actually a specific moment I can recall that sparked my passion for the arts. I was around 5-years-old and just knew that I wanted to be an actor. It was film and television that really intrigued me at a young age and I decided that it was the career path I'd follow. Also, my dad is a musician and he had inspired me! He's a drummer and he's been doing that since he was 5-years-old. He pursued that and he is still doing it. Growing up, all I heard was drums in the house. He inspired me to follow the arts.
What drove you to pursue this passion for performing? My elementary school was putting on a production of Annie. It was the first time they were producing a musical. I just knew I had to be in it. I was cast as an Orphan and was immediately hooked on performing. The thrill you get from being in front of an audience is like no other. It was a rush of adrenaline I didn't want to let go of! Growing up, I was quite shy, but being on the stage completely changed that.
What obstacles did you face when pursuing this field and how did you overcome or manage them? Being in the Professional Theatre program at John Abbott helped me face all of my fears and obstacles head on. One of the biggest obstacles I faced was my struggle with anxiety. I would get so nervous right before a performance because I'd put so much pressure on myself to be "perfect". Obviously perfect does not exist and the program helped get rid of my irrational fears by just having the opportunity to perform every single day in front of my peers or the occasional audience. I now have the proper tools to manage my anxiety. I understand that it is okay to fail and I do not always need to be "perfect".
What advice would you give current High School/incoming College students who wish to pursue this field? Pursuing this field is extremely difficult, so your dedication and hard work needs to drive you. It is so incredibly important to believe in yourself and your talent. Have confidence and trust that what you have to offer is different from everyone else.
What skills do you see as most important in this business? Being strong-willed, determined, and being versatile are the most important skills in my opinion.
How has the John Abbott program supported you in becoming the artist you want to be? I could go on forever about this program and how much it's changed me! It has been one of the best experiences of my life because of how much confidence it helped me build. As I've mentioned earlier, coming into the program I was shy and quiet, but my teachers and peers helped me find my voice. The program has helped shape me into the artist, and person, I want to be.
What is your most memorable experience in the program while attending John Abbott?Being cast as the lead, Alice, in You Can't Take it With You, directed by Rob Burns. I had never had more fun rehearsing for a show. It was such an exciting piece of work and I will never forget it.
What plans do you have after you graduate? I am currently in process of searching for an agent. I'd like to break into the film and television industry, so I essentially am hoping to get work once I graduate.
Do you plan on staying in Montreal? I definitely plan on establishing myself as an artist in Montreal. I'm also playing it by ear because you never know where the work will take you.
Olivia can be seen in the role of "Maggie" in Gut Girls playing at the John Abbott Casgrain Studio Theater on May 4, 5, 10, 11, 13 at 8pm and May 6 at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.johnabbott.qc.ca/event/gut-girls-6/