A conversation with Vancouver actor Natalie Grace

Natalie Grace is an up-and-coming Vancouver actor. She made her small-screen debut on the TV show Fringe and had a supporting role in the Canadian horror film Evangeline, directed by Karen Lam. I sat down to talk to her about her start as an actor, the audition process, and her experiences on set.

Q: When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?

Grace: I started doing it when I was pretty young, in elementary school. Anytime they would have a play for the assemblies, I’d always volunteer to be in those. And then in later elementary school, they had actual drama classes which I took and I guess then was sort of like, “Yeah, I like this and I could do this more.”

When did you start going towards film and television?

Grace: That was actually one spring break in Grade 7. My mom signed me up for this week-long film and TV acting workshop out in White Rock. That was my first experience with film acting. So, I took that and the coach was like, “Hey, do you have an agent?” and I was like, “No, what’s an agent?” and she’s like, “Well, you should get one.” So she talked to my mom and that was the start of that.

What other training have you done since then?

Grace: Tons of training, lots of weekend workshops. Casting director workshops are really helpful. You know, seeing casting outside of the room, and getting to know them without that pressure there and actually being able to work with them instead of just job-interview style, going in there and getting your one chance and leave.

So, you think training is important?

Grace: Training is definitely important. I mean, everyone uses the same analogy all the time. It’s like athletes: if you don’t train, you can’t expect to run a marathon and do well. Skill is important, but if you don’t hone your skill and keep working at it, then you’re doing a disservice to everyone else in the industry and to yourself.

What’s the audition process like?

Grace: Torture! I mean it varies. It’s different for commercials then it is for film and TV stuff. So, usually with both of them, you’ll get the call the day before the audition. If you’re lucky, they’ll call you on a Friday for a Monday audition so you have a whole weekend, and you want to cherish those times. But it’s usually the day before. Sometimes it’s less than 24-hours notice. You get your scene — sometimes its one page, sometimes its eight pages — and are expected to have it prepared by the next morning. If it’s a bigger audition, you’ll scramble to try and get a coach for it. And then you go to the studio, or the office, wherever it’s being held for your call time, sign in on the sheet, wait your turn. Most of the time, you can hear everything that’s going on in the audition room, which is always super fun, getting to judge everyone else’s performances and rethink your own choices.

What was the first professional role you booked?

Grace: That was a commercial I booked, I was 17. It was a commercial for this telecommunications company in the States. I think they were based in Texas or something. So, it aired in maybe one state in the U.S. and it was on YouTube for a while. It’s not anymore but I have a copy of it. You can barely recognize me in it. It’s quite funny.

I know you did an episode of Fringe. Can you talk about that?

Grace: That was actually probably one of the most exciting things I’ve ever booked because I was a huge fan of the show at the time. So, even when my agent called me for the audition, I was like, “Oh my goodness, I have an audition for Fringe!” I was freaking out because it was the season four premiere and season three ended on a huge cliffhanger.

So, there was a lot of pressure?

Grace: There was a lot of pressure but at the same time I said, “I’m just gonna go in, do my best, and walk out and have that be that.” So, I went and I did it, and I felt good about it, but I didn’t hear. Usually you hear within a few days if you get it but that one took a whole week. And then my agent called me and told me I booked it. I cried. I was freaking out. I remember I was working at the ice cream store and I was in the back room when he called me, and I was crying sitting on the freezer. It was pretty funny.

Did you have a fan-girl moment? Did you get to meet everyone?

Grace: Oh yeah, my scene was with Anna Torv, the lead in the show. I was trying very hard to contain myself and I did very well, I didn’t freak out at all. It was a night shoot, so everyone was kind of doing their own thing. But they were all super-nice and it was a really cool experience.

What was it like working with Karen Lam on Evangeline?

Grace: She’s amazing, I love her so much. She was in the audition room when I auditioned for it but then when you actually start working with her and seeing what she’s like as a person, it’s quite the opposite of her films and her writing. She’s like this bubbly little woman. She’s so cheerful all the time. She knits, she bakes and she has cats.

And she makes movies about demons and murder?

Grace: Yeah, these ideas just come out of her head and I think it’s the greatest thing.

What was the dynamic on set?

Grace: It was so much fun. I’m still in contact with all those people and we still talk and stuff. It was very much a family dynamic, We all shared one big trailer, and we all were in most of the scenes together, and it was a small crew too. Probably one of my best experiences on set.

It went to a lot of film festivals. Did you go to any of those?

Grace: I went to the Vancouver International Film Festival premiere of it.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Grace: I do, actually. There’s a show coming out, it just set a release date, I think its Jan. 13. It’s called Second Chance. it was originally called The Frankenstein Code. And then, while I was filming, it was called Lookinglass. And then last week, they changed it to Second Chance and set a release date. So, I think that’s the one they’re going to stick with. But yeah, Jan. 13, I’ll be in episode 5. And I don’t think I can really tell you much more than that but the trailer is on YouTube, you can check it out.

How do you balance work and auditions?

Grace: It’s not so much a balance because auditions come at the drop of a hat. It’s more having understanding bosses and being flexible to work around things and coworkers who will take your shifts last minute. My job has been really great with that and it helps that they support me in what I do and they want me to succeed, which is nice.

What is your dream role?

Grace: To work in anything with David Tennant, anything with him or Carey Mulligan or Olivia Colman would be amazing. I don’t even care what the part is, just anything with them. Or a Tim Burton movie. I think working with him would be awesome.

For more information about Natalie Grace, you can check out her IMDb page.

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