I Got Into Theatre By Mistake

Julia Hunter as Mrs. Potts

I got into theatre by mistake. I was the quiet shy person growing up who played sports. When I joined theatre class in Grade 10 I was on 2 basketball teams and 2 hockey teams. I ended up there because the media class I wanted to take was full, now I can’t imagine my life if it wasn’t. In grade 10 drama we were asked to write a monologue of a character accepting an award I chose to create someone accepting a crazy potato award, yes, A Crazy Potato award. I remember the thrill I got when creating this character, I even went out and bought a giant beehive wig for the performance. From that I was asked to be in the school musical Bye Bye Birdie where I played an overprotective New York mother. I was terrified to go on stage and perform lines in front of my classmates and adults but once I was on stage I fell in love. I was extremely nerve racking and quite frankly scary to step so far out of my comfort zone, away from hockey pants and basketballs. The following year I joined a local Youth Theatre  company in my home town. I auditioned for the role of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (having never sang on stage) and GOT IT! I remember spending hours working on the song so that I wouldn’t mess up on stage.

A month before the opening of Beauty and the Beast my parents decided to separate. It was a highly emotional and sad time for me but my theatre family at my Youth Theatre made me happy. I cried on stage when singing tale as old as time partly because I was terrified to be singing in front of 500 people and partly because I was sad but mostly because I felt this overwhelming amount of confidence and support from everyone around me. Being a part of a Youth Theatre programs gave me something to be passionate about and the confidence to be myself.

When I graduated High School I wasn’t set on doing anything except Theatre. I completed an acting training conservatory at Fanshawe College then moved to Toronto to try and ‘break into the scene’. It’s not a lie when people say it’s a tough industry but I think every industry is tough, if you love something enough you want to do the best kind of work and doing the best kind of work is tough. It was tricky finding my feet in Toronto but that part where I felt it was too hard and too difficult inspired me to begin writing a play with a friend I moved to Toronto with. We wanted to write out our frustrations with the things we began experiencing once being out in the so called “real world”. That following summer we toured our show to London, Montreal and Winnipeg Fringe Festival (the fringe festival is a non-juried festival that allows independent artists to produce their own shows in multiple cities across the country). Transitioning from Youth theatre to school theatre to real life theatre has been full of ups and downs but one thing has stayed consistent throughout and it’s the passion and power that writing and performing gives me.

Theatre has given me more than just a thrill, it has given me confidence in my own voice, an interest in activism and using theatre as a tool to propel stories for social change. In 2015 I was a part of the AMY Project, a theatre training program for women and non binary youth that is FREE! Being a participant in the AMY Project opened 101 doors for me.

In 2017 I will be assistant directing the AMY Project as well I am the Alumni Program Coordinator for the AMY Project. I am working on my next play called 2102 which will hopefully open sometime in 2017. I would never be where I am today without the opportunities of youth theatre and the confidence it gave me to find myself and what I want to do in the world. Receiving mentorship has been crucial in my journey whether it’s an email, phone call or coffee date I always feel a little bit more on track when I talk to someone who’s work I am interested in. I am happy to also be a mentor so I am always open to emails or questions.

With care,

Julia Hunter

julia Hunter

julia Hunter

The AMY Project

Julia is the assistant director and alumni co-ordinator for The AMY Project. She is also working on her next play, entitled 2102, set to debut in 2017.