"I had to attend A Chorus Line for a report and fell in love with Val... The next week I took my first dance class and within a month I was taking 9 hours of dance a week, singing lessons and every acting class I could get into."
About Lisa Durupt – Actor
Lisa Durupt was never supposed to be an actor. It just happened that way and for this, she is grateful and content. An accomplished hockey player growing up, she landed a scholarship to play at an American university until surgery postponed her plans and a theatre class sent her straight into the arts. She’s never looked back.
Blessed with a quick wit and a natural flair for physical performance, Lisa Durupt started with film and television roles in her hometown of Winnipeg, highlighted by a four year run on HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind, which earned her nominations from the Leo Awards and the Gemini Awards.
Since relocating to Vancouver, Lisa Durupt continues to bring her artistic energy to a variety of projects, including TV series like Motive and Supernatural and the Vancouver International Film Festival favourite Preggoland, where she stars opposite Sonja Bennett and James Caan.
1. What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?
The desire to learn and grow is what fuels me. The challenge to take it all in – in one lifetime – is what drives me.
2. Can you talk about your greatest “failure”? (something that led to your most significant shift in consciousness, and made you who you are today).
In all seriousness, one of my greatest “failures” was not wearing my bottom retainer as a child. Everyone warned me but I hated that it made me talk with a lisp. The good news is that I now have one tiny little unique tooth that my niece and nephew constantly poke and call ‘broken’.
What I learned from this is to not be so worried about what other people might think about me and to appreciate every quirk that makes me unique.
3. Are you happy? What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness to me is my health and the health of those I love. I have always believed that so long as I choose to be positive, happy and seek joy in my life every day, I am allowing myself the greatest opportunity to be healthy inside and out. Ultimately, the happiness that I have today comes from the simple gift of having my health. Anything else is just window dressing.
4. What do you think is your greatest strength? On the reverse, can you identify a personal challenge (something you currently struggle with)?
My greatest strength is my ability to connect with people. I read people well and can get along with anyone. You would have to work really hard for me to not adore you. Even then, if you make me laugh, you are easily forgiven.
My biggest challenge is that I am like a puppy and I love everyone that makes me laugh. When it comes to my social circle, I am very much ‘the more the merrier” type of person. I can give people too much benefit of the doubt when perhaps, I should not.
5. When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Can you talk about that moment or time in your life?
There are two moments that were pivotal for me.
I attended a French Immersion High School and our options for Francais (French Class) were Core, Communications or Theatre. I really liked the theatre teacher, so I chose that class. By Grade 12, he included me in what I thought was a year-end presentation at the local French College for our final mark. Turns out it was a competition for all of the French Theatre programs in the province and I ended up winning an award for best supporting actress at the dinner afterwards.
I remember thinking two things – “I guess this means I am an actor?” and “I feel like I should have invited my parents… oops.”
That was the first time I had ever even considered acting to be more than just the class I needed to graduate.
Then while recovering from shoulder surgery, I took an ‘easy’ class at the University of Winnipeg to fill my schedule. I had to attend A Chorus Line for a report and fell in love with Val! Belting out ‘Dance 10, Looks 3’ while fan kicking and jumping all over the stage, I was completely in awe of the Winnipeg performer, Amanda Haines. She looked athletic and confident, not to mention so darn fierce on stage.
I was hooked.
The next week I took my first dance class and within a month I was taking 9 hours of dance a week, singing lessons and every acting class I could get into.
6. Habits, routine, morning rituals — What are the positive things you do daily that have had the most significant impact on your life and work?
Morning is my time. I get up early, always… sometimes even before the sun is up. I have coffee, watch the news or read the paper. I love it. It is the one time of day when I won’t be distracted and it really sets up the rest of my day.
7. How do you deal with doubt? Where do you go for support?
I try to talk back to the little voice in my head. When it says anything negative I tell it to go f*** itself. It tends to make me laugh and next thing you know, I am in a much better headspace!
8. What, in your opinion, are the qualities of someone who is a “great” artist (in whatever discipline)?
Great artists are people who do what they do best because they love it. They know exactly who they are and they don’t try to be more than that. They are knowledgeable, passionate and very precise when it comes to their craft.
9. Any advice for artists on a similar path? (Perhaps advice you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out).
Take a business class because this is a business and learn to love auditioning! Auditioning is your job, stop thinking about booking. I once witnessed someone not get cast because the director thought she looked like his ex. Who can control that? No one!
For 5 to 10 minutes, you get to be a character and no one can take that audition away from you. Have fun with it and let that little creative monkey inside you dance like a crazy person.
10. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship to money? This is a less specific question, but I’m just curious about your thoughts on the topic. Has your relationship to money changed over the years?
I am very realistic about money, so sitting and waiting for a series lead to pay my way has never been an option. I equate it to waiting to win the lottery.
When it comes to spending, I am not flashy at all. I keep to a very strict budget, I love hunting for thrift store finds and I take pride in having bought a little fixer-upper in the suburbs. To each their own, but the best advice I ever received about money was to gain knowledge from someone in that field and make a plan.
11. Ever experience flow/being in the zone? What does it feel like for you, and can you tell us about a time when you experienced it?
Totally! It is really hard to put into words other than you are just in the pocket.
My favourite example of this was a few years back when I was doing a cabaret-style show. I was in a trio of ladies singing “You Can Always Count on Me” from City of Angels.
Once the piano started, I suddenly I forgot my words. Over the next few minutes, I managed to drink all of the (fake) martinis on the table at the right beats, so as to be stage drunk enough to pass out for my lyrics. I was able to come to and sing the one line I knew, kick to the beat and fall backwards off my chair in time for the final counts.
It turned out to be a stupidly hilarious scene and there was no way I could have planned it.
12. What is your favourite book? It could be about your craft, or maybe just an excellent story.
My all-time favourite book is still Space Station Seventh Grade by Jerry Spinelli! I read it 20 years ago and to this day, it still makes me laugh. It is an adorable tell-all from a 7th grader’s point of view. Girls. Football. Hormones. It has it all.
Keep up with Lisa Durupt by
Visiting her website: LisaDurupt.com
You can also see her in Preggoland, which opens May 1st in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
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