Recently I was lucky enough to interview up and coming Canadian actor Lisa Berry. She has appeared on shows such as Lost Girl, Nikita, and The Firm and is currently filming a feature called The Colony starring Laurence Fishburne. For the record, Lisa Berry is kind of awesome. Not only is she a talented actor, she is also down to earth and a bonafide geek! It was really hard for me to stay quiet while she was answering my questions just because I so badly wanted to discuss geekery with her.
In this interview Berry talks about how she got into acting, her favorite genres, how she wants to be the next Wonder Woman, her advice for aspiring actors, and proves that she is an actor you ought to keep an eye on.
What inspired you to become an actor?
LISA BERRY: I don’t know! Isn’t that hilarious? I didn’t initially start out as an actor, I was a make-up artist. I was always behind the scenes and I just always enjoyed being a charismatic kind of person and somebody had told me that you could make a living doing it. When I was 22, a couple of my friends had asked if I could go to a Lion King open call audition and I said, “I’m not an actor, I’m not going to get that.” I somehow made it through to the final callback. It became a possibility and I saw that for the first time. Then, I went to theater school to see if I could follow this dream all the way through to the end, so it kind of just happened, for lack of a better word. It wasn’t a case of “I wanted to be an actor”, it was more like “I would love the idea of it”, but I didn’t think it was possible and then through the good grace of being around some fantastic people who believe that dreams can come true, I gave it a shot and it’s worked out well.
That’s an incredible story! It’s so serendipitous and inspiring.Â
LB: Oh yeah! Even when I think about it I was just like, “Wow, I was the last person who thought you could actually do it.” Now I’m the advocate for “Follow your heart! Believe in yourself! Your dreams can come true!”
It can happen!
LB:Â Exactly, it was a really nice experience. I mean I didn’t end up getting the Lion King, but making it to the final round of callbacks was enough to peak my interests because I was like, “If I can make it all the way to the final rounds with zero training and zero knowledge of what I’m supposed to be doing, then what would happen if I tried?” That’s the moral I’m kind of living with right now, it’s just like “What’s the worst that could happen? You’re already not doing it, so any action you take in a forward positive momentum has to equal something good.”
Recently you appeared on the show Lost Girl. Tell me about that show and your character Serena.Â
LB:Â I love that show! I wish to be back on it, it’s still running and doing fantastically well. I was initially supposed to be one of the recurring characters, but because of other gigs it wound up only being the one episode. I think the idea of it is really cool, I love the idea of the superhero being a succubus instead of a vampire of werewolf, which is what we’re used to seeing. The audience gets to be introduced to a variety of different kind of superheroes, so to speak. My character, Serena, she’s a little bit of a diva (laughs). She’s worked with Dyson, they have a little bit of a history together and I get to be the new head of ASH. I get a high position and I basically run things according to the book. It doesn’t matter if we have to lose people in the interim, I (my character) say, “It’s about the bigger picture more so than the individual”, and that causes a conflict in the episode, but they work it all out and my character has to stand down. I think she enjoys her job sometimes just a little bit too much because she gets a little disappointed when she doesn’t get to actually throw any flames. She enjoys her job, but she’s disappointed that she doesn’t get to do it to her fullest extent, but she’s a great character. She’s got a lot of strengths, she’s got a lot of flare and pizazz, and she’s tough.
As you said before, your character is a flamethrower and it’s really sad you don’t get to use it in the episode! So, if you could have a Fae power, what would it be and why?Â
LB:Â Oh, I would still take the Fae power of my character, just because it’s super cool and it’s got a lot of intensity and I love that fire represents passion and energy and and fuel. I love her powers and I love that she gets to be someone who gets to sit in her power and isn’t scared to use it, but understands that there’s a control that needs to be opened with it as well so that she can effectively use it and not be dangerous. So, playing with fire in the best of ways!
You’ve appeared on a lot of really neat shows like Nikita, Lost Girl, and Being Erica. Tell me what are some of your favorite television shows?
LB:Â A lot of the stuff that I’ve been on, actually, which is kind of cool. I loved working on Nikita, the people there were so fantastic, and I loved working on Being Erica as well. They were fantastic to work with. In terms of all the shows I’ve worked on, I really love Against the Wall and I got to work with Kathy Baker who is one of my favorite actresses, so that was just a treat when I was told that I got the part for that. I love The Firm, I got to do a nice cameo on that in the first episode. I love Lost Girl, I love The Firm, I love Nikita, I love a lot of the shows that I work on. In terms of shows that I haven’t worked on but I’d love to be on, my top favorite shows, I love the Vampire Diaries. It’s good and it’s a guilty pleasure (laughs). I love Suits, it’s a new show that just came out and it’s going into its second season. Gina Torres headlines that one and I’m a huge fan of her work as well, and it’s just inspirational to see all of my favorite television stars working in towns like Toronto, so I can actually have an opportunity to work with them which would be great. The Walking Dead is another one and those are in terms of regular TV shows.
In terms of cartoon shows because I’m a total geek, I love the Justice League, I love Wonder Woman, I love the Superman series, I love the Batman series, I love cartoons. I think they’re made with the same integrity that any full blooded television series like Vampire Diaries or The Firm are made with today because the story lines and the actors who get to voice these characters are so real that I’ve actually caught myself getting choked up watching an episode of X-Men. So, I’ve got an affection for that as well.
Okay, can I just say that you just got a little cooler becauseÂ my friends and I are total geeks and we love those kinds shows too? How awesome!
LB:Â Oh totally, I was just like, “Um, I love Wonder Woman and all of those shows. Is that weird?” I’m a total geek, but I’ve learned to just embrace it because they really are great great great works of art and my boyfriend, Dion Johnstone, who is also an actor was the one who introduced me to George Perez. I’m actually going to my first Comic Con this year! I’m super excited to just dive into the whole world because it’s fun to just be around that energy of people who also enjoy the same things, and then you don’t have to feel like a geek.
Well I hope you have fun at Comic Con. It’s fun.Â
LB:Â I’m sure I will! (laughs)
What is your favorite genre to work in and why?
LB:Â My favorite genre would have to be comic books or, and this is a total switch, law and order dramas. I just love the idea of arguing a point and I think it’s just a fun thing to do because you get to live in a world of debating. It’s nice to have a point of view to argue and to be able to create work that gets other people who are watching, like your audience, thinking about stuff. Moving through things like, “Oh, I never even thought of it like that.” So, I love lawyer dramas and I love comic book genre just because I think it’s fun to play, to have adventures, to have a different world, and to exist in a different paradigm.
I’m a big believer just like everybody else who saw Star Trek, which is another one of my favorite shows, that we just haven’t figured out how to do it yet! (laughs) That’s all that it is, it’s not that it’s impossible because I’m sure we thought we could never fly and now we have airplanes and stuff like that. Soon there will be deep space travel. It might not be in my generation, but I do not put it past the human consciousness to be able to evolve to a place where they could actually do that. So, those are my favorite genres. They keep the imagination alive and growing and wanting to challenge itself.
What would be your dream role?
LB:Â Oh my God, my dream role is Wonder Woman! I would love to be the black Wonder Woman who gets to embody that kind of strength, power, and just ambition to change the world in the most positive way. I just love everything that she represents. I love her story, I love the mystery of how she’s come to be with all these gods, and learning about all of this has just opened my world, I mean I can’t help but be excited about it! So, my dream role would be Wonder Woman.
Awesome! Alright, so tell me what’s next for you? What work of yours do we have to look forward to?Â
LB:Â There’s a few more episodes of Nikita coming up which is great because I was just supposed to be in one episode, and then they brought my character back for two more episodes, so you’ll get to to see me on Nikita for two more episodes. I just got offered a part in a feature film with Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Zegers called The Colony and I start filming that in about a week. It’s very exciting because it’s new to me to be on a feature film, and I’m excited to be on a sci-fi thriller kind of set and see what that world is going to be like. It’s exciting to be a part of it.
LB:Â My advice to aspiring actors is to constantly be training, and growing as a person and as an artist so that you can always be coming from a place of new life. As actors we basically recreate what we do as human beings. As human being we’re living and breathing and going through life. A big philosophy of mine is “breath is life” and as an actor you want to learn how to breathe really deeply into the center of who you are, so that you can be a true artist who tells stories from a place of honesty. As you grow and continue to train, never let yourself get stuck in a rhythm where you think you know it all. I think the best chance of evolving into the kind of artist that you’d be proud of for yourself is to constantly grow, shift, and evolve. I don’t regret performances because even when I look back on certain projects I’m just like, “I would do a better job if I did it now.” I’m still proud of it because I know that it came from a place of learning and growth, so I get to look back on my career with nothing but affection and no regrets. Also, be in a class! Always be training, and if you’re not training in terms of working then be in a class is my advice to actors.
Aside from the eventual Wonder WomanÂ starring you, what is your favorite comic book movie and why?Â
LB:Â I would say Justice League just because I love the whole Green Arrow, Hawkgirl, and Vixen triage. I love it because it gets me so excited and it gets my imagination firing on all cylinders and I can’t help but have a smile on my face when I talk about it. All of my friends are just like, “You watch comics? You read comics and you watch cartoons?” I’m just like, “You don’t know how cool it is!” Justice LeagueÂ for sure because I love the whole dynamic of the storyline that’s going on and all of that stuff.