BWW Interview: Gita Miller, EMERGING TALENT MONTREAL, STUDENT EDITION at Dawson College
Every spring, a group of performers take their final bows in their last performance as theatre 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.
This week's Emerging Talent Montreal, Student Edition features Gita Miller, a talented young woman graduating from the Professional Theatre Program at Dawson College in Montreal, QC. Gita has been performing since age three, participating in Community Theater for nearly 13 years and taking private acting lessons to prepare for a career in the performing arts. Growing up in Val-Morin, a town of 2, 772 inhabitants located in the Laurentian region of Quebec, created little opportunity for Gita to pursue her passion for performing at a professional level. Her determination drove her to seek out as many opportunities as possible in order to gain experience, sharpen her skills and eventually qualify for the Dawson Theatre Program.
Gita has demonstrated perseverance and fortitude in her passion for the acting profession. Her talent and drive have already secured her place with Kim Vaincourt Talent Management and television work in the anthology crime series Real Detective. Gita recently completed her final performance as a Dawson College Theatre student and took the time to share her artistic journey and plans for the future with BWW Montreal:
What sparked your passion for the performing arts? I've been interested in the performing arts since I was a little kid. It started like most with local community theatre, which I performed in every year from the age of 3 up until 16. At first it was all just for fun and an excuse to be with friends, but around 15 I remember I spent the whole summer watching Moulin Rouge with two of my best friends. We literally watched it 4 times a week for the entire summer and knew every song by the time school rolled around. This was the first time I remember feeling really affected by watching a performance and marked the moment I realized that I wanted to be able to bring people together, like my friends and I had been, and make people feel the same joy and sense of belonging that I had felt that entire summer.
What obstacles did you face when pursuing this field and how did you overcome or manage them? I'm from a very small town up north in the Laurentian Mountains about an hour from Montreal, and I remember feeling so frustrated because where I'm from there were no professional acting opportunities or classes to take and gain experience from. I remember spending hours on my computer obsessively google-ing for audition notices or acting teachers that lived close enough for my mom to drive to, but of course every good acting class was being held far away in the city. Finally, I did find an acting teacher who coincidentally was giving classes 20 minutes from my house. This was a blessing because from that point on everything snowballed. I started acting classes up north and my mom, realizing how serious I was about it, let me take acting classes in the city. After that I got an agent, and over a long period of time started auditioning for mostly film and TV.
Finally, in 2014, I was accepted to the Dawson Professional Theatre program and began my training. As I've gotten more and more experience in this field, another obstacle I've had to face is that of believing in myself. This is so critical to this line of work because before you can accept anyone believing in you, you have to first believe in yourself. I've always had a grounded sense of confidence, but life can throw a lot your way and staying kind to myself throughout many challenges has been constant work. Over time I've really learnt the importance of self love and care, something I work on daily, and is successful not only due to my hard work but also due to the loving support of my family, friends and teachers over the many years.
What advice would you give current high school students who wish to pursue this field? I would say if you love it, be proactive. My mom used to tell me that if I want something, I've gotta show the world how much I want it before I can expect any good things to come my way. You have to play an active role in your own career. And this doesn't mean you have to take drastic measures and run away to Hollywood, but it means grasp at any and all the opportunities around you even if they feel small or not there.
I would also caution heavily against comparing yourself to others. This can be easy to fall into in a business filled with many talented and beautiful people. But falling into that negative cycle does nothing but bring you lower and distract you from what you have to offer inside. I've had my fair share of catching myself being an active participant in the allowing of other people to influence me into negative ideas about myself. But a teacher once told, "Never play with a pig in the mud. Because the pig has fun and you get dirty". I've never forgotten this, and used it to constantly centre myself and bring my focus back to the work. Because the real work isn't about you, it's about someone else. It's about the character you play, or the project you're in and the audience to whom the story will affect and change.
What skills do you see as most important in this field? You've gotta be a good listener. It's so much more important than I realized starting out. And I mean a listener in many ways. It's amazing what can happen when you really listen to your scene partner and truly observe what they are giving you, as opposed to what you have perhaps projected onto them during rehearsals. Being a good listener also means listening to teachers, directors and classmates whom you may not always agree with, but will teach you an immeasurable amount if you stay open.
I think perseverance is another important skill to have in this field. From what my teachers at Dawson have taught me, and from what I've observed in the successful people around me, the ones with perseverance are the people who go the farthest.
Another thing I find people often overlook, but I truly see as a skill, is communication. Knowing how to communicate ideas, concerns or questions to anyone, whether you're in school or out in the field, is key. Without good and clear communication, I've seen projects and professional relationships go south very quickly. I also think it's important to note that kindness, and positivity are incredibly valuable attributes to constantly practice in any situation you find yourself in. People will recognize and value it more than you realize.
What is your most memorable experience in the program while attending Dawson? Recently my 3rd year graduating class wrapped our final show of the year which was a collective creation called Rebel Daughter directed by Jude Beny, written by a crew of students from my class and shaped by the entire graduating year. This process was a first experience for mostly all of us, and a greatly challenging and rewarding one at that. On our final performance of the show, which marked the last time we'd perform a play at Dawson, I remember looking around through tears at my fellow classmates, and truly feeling so proud to be surrounded by a group of people with the ability to work to the bone and create an entire play where there was not one 4 weeks before. I am truly thankful that I was part of the class I was in, for the amount of talent and kind people I have shared tears and laughter with are truly the most memorable moments I will carry with me forever.
What plans do you have after you graduate? My plan after graduation (after spending a good 2 weeks of doing sweet nothing), is to go straight into the workforce. Recently I have signed with Kim Vaincourt Talent Management and am extremely excited to be given the opportunity to devote myself fully to my career.
Gita Miller is represented by Kim Vaincourt Talent Management. Her online profile and representation can viewed here: http://www.kimvaincourt.com/talent/profile/140/Gita++Miller.html