Photo by Molly Crealock
Fiona Reid is set to play the Queen of England in The Audience. A play focusing on the Queen's meetings with various British prime ministers over the years. The play opens January 17. This interview is from a past issue of dandyhorse magazine published in 2014, where she talks about acting and bikes. For more past issues go here.
Heels on wheels: Fiona Reid, Actor, Age 60
Story by Tammy Thorne
Fiona Reid played Cathy, the wife of Larry King, aka the King of Kensington in the popular Canadian TV series of the same name that ran from 1975 to 1980. Today, Reid is the Creative Director of Eclat School of Performing Arts with multiple awards under her belt, including two Doras and an Order of Canada. She can usually be found biking around town looking more like a messenger than a thespian. dandyhorse magazine caught up with her in Kensington Market this spring.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m auditioning for television roles and doing various play workshops and readings. My next theatre gig is in the fall in The Arsonists is directed by Morris Panych at Canstage.
As one of the Creative Directors of the Eclat School of Performing Arts you work towards teaching and mentoring young actors.
Why do you think mentorship is important to the future of live theatre?
Toronto is brimming with amazing professional resources for students interested in theatre. There is so much we can do to give high school students more hands on training. That’s where the Eclat school comes in. It’s a way for students to learn in a meaningful environment while gaining an Ontario course credit. I wish I’d had access to something like this as a teenager. I feel very lucky to be part of such a terrific team of professionals teaching there.
Today’s youth represent the future of our craft. Their interest, their talents, their hunger for excellence is a cause for hope for us all. I love working with them. Sometimes when I least expect it, I find myself astonished by a young performer’s talent and dedication. It’s thrilling when one has that moment, which usually comes from hard work. It’s deeply inspiring. eclat-arts.com
Why is it important to support Canadian content in Canadian broadcasting?
Well, it’s getting pretty dire. So many of us have been fighting for our stories to be told on our media for years and now it’s all in some peril. To choose to become an actor in Canada is becoming an increasingly risky career choice. For example, the average wage for an ACTRA member is $8,000 per annum.
We are a vast country geographically. The CBC is mandated as our way of talking to each other across these great distances. But now, the Harper government is cutting the very backbone of the corp. So, no more radio drama; series’ are being dropped. There’s less money all around and that means less development of unique stories. We’re losing our ways of connecting, our myriad ways of expressing our national identity. Canadian culture is not only our means of communication and identification with each other; it is also our face to the world. It’s the very lifeblood of a country. Every developed country besides the USA and India supports culture. We should not apologize for that. Besides, our cultural industries are a great investment with significant economic effects.
Have you ever worn heels while riding your bike?
If I go to an opening, or a lunch date, or even an audition, I’ll generally wear heels. They’re so easy to wear on a bike, because the heel isn’t a factor when pedalling. I get the odd comment, which is nice. That doesn’t happen so often at my age.
What’s your usual cycling apparel?
I usually look like a bike courier. Black bike pants or jeans, red MEC jacket, bike gloves, Blundstones. Sometimes I bring out some skinny pants and nicer shoes and wear my M0851 raincoat, which is a bit more chic. Still, it’s black, so not the best for night time, so I have to have lots of lights. I have a thing about bikers who ride at night with no illumination!
Have you ever ridden your bike to a gala event wearing formal attire?
Not yet. I would like to try, but I’m a bit afraid of getting oil on a silk dress. My bike isn’t very clean most days.
Have you ever rehearsed lines on your bike?
I’m ALWAYS rehearsing lines on my bike! It’s the best! No one cares with the vehicle noise all around. I find the act of riding very freeing for vocal delivery. Once I rode to an audition. The main draw back of that is helmet head. But, this one time, I guess I’d rushed a bit, because as soon as the camera started shooting me, I started dripping with sweat!
From dandyhorse magazine Issue 9
What is your favourite ride in Toronto?
I love going down that hill on Rosedale Valley road, after visiting my mum at Belmont House in midtown. Then I haul my bike up the stairs near Bayview- that’s a bit of an upper body work out for an old broad like me – and ride through the bottom of Cabbagetown, on to River and down to Dundas, then towards home on Carlaw. That part of Cabbagetown near the Riverdale zoo is an oasis of charm and character.
Please tell us about your commute route?
I’m usually heading to the Y in the morning. There’s been major construction on a lot of roads, so the road condition is lousy. I have to keep my eye out for uneven terrain. I enjoy watching the new Olympic pool structure as it’s coming along. And there’s usually a crossing guard lady on Dundas, west of River who’ s super friendly. Every morning it’s ‘Hi, darlin!” You see so many interesting sights that you’d never really catch in a car.
What’s one thing you’d like to see change in Toronto for cyclists?
More bike lanes. Transit and bikes need to become the preferred means of getting around Toronto. We need to de-amalgamate. The needs of downtowners when it comes to bikes are particular to its geography and character. I do find cars in general are becoming a bit more respectful about sharing the road. Oh, and safety guards for trucks are a no-brainer.
What is your advice to young actors trying to “make it”?
Be determined. Learn to deal with rejection from the outset. And know how to do more than one thing.
Why should youth be hopeful for the future?
That’s a tough one, because I think my generation has a fair bit to answer for in terms of what we’ve handed down to the younger generation. But when I see so much amazing indie work done on a shoestring, I realize there’s enormous talent and creativity in our midst when it comes to young artists.
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