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As soon as Kitsilano-born Rachel Cairns graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, she was cast as Juliet for the UK’s Pilot Theatre. Three leading Shakespearean roles later, she dishes on Yoga, rejection letters, and the Pacific Ocean.
Vanmag: Ophelia, Viola, Juliet…now Cymbeline. Are you a prodigy?
RC: No. I’m just lucky. I had auditioned once for Bard before landing Ophelia and Viola, but Christoper Gaze wrote me a lovely rejection letter. It was really sweet and delivered to my house — that never happens! Then they remembered me and called me in to audition a few years later and the stars aligned.
VM: Your promotional shot for Cymbeline is vaguely reminiscent of last year’s Twelfth Night shot of Viola unclothed. Are you in your birthday suit again?
RC: No, I think we’re all fully clothed in Cymbeline!
VM: How did you get your start?
RC: I’ve always liked acting. When I was 16, in an acting class with the Lyric School of Acting, I had a real mentor. We did a showcase, and another kids’ agent came and signed me. So I started getting TV stuff in my late teens. And I decided to go to drama school in London.
VM: Do you experience anxiety onstage?
RC: I’m an actress. There’s anxiety all the time. Right now, I’m waiting to hear back about an audition that I want. It’s taking everything in me to not think about it. Every time the phone rings, I’m hoping it’s my agent. That’s part of the discipline of the job. You have to be comfortable to live in the unknown. Some days it’s fine, and some days I wonder, “Why did I decide to do this again?”
VM: How do you keep that anxiety at bay?
RC: In my darkest hours, I can always give my parents a call and they will tell me what I need to hear. And yoga. Going into a room with a bunch of people and taking some time to breathe — that’s never a bad thing.
VM: How did London compare to Vancouver?
RC: London is a global metropolis and theatrically speaking for western culture, that’s where history it. The culture shock of walking past a wall and realizing that it’s older than my own country — it was so educational. In Vancouver though, so many times I’ll be on Granville Street, looking across the ocean and think, “Oh my God, the world is amazing.” When I’m in Toronto or London, I get geographically homesick. I feel like the Pacific Ocean is in me somewhere.
Realted Reading: Bob Fraser: Q&A, Jennifer Line: Q&A