Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
How long have been a Vancouverite? ?25 years
I am an Entertainment Entrepreneur in the special event industry. Using quick-change celebrity impersonations, I inspire audiences to play along with high-energy musical numbers and a unique style of improvised comedy. I host events and perform as Madonna, Cher, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Liza Minnelli, Dolly Parton, Marilyn Monroe and more as part of my own show, 8 Divas in 44 Minutes. In 2005, I won the Canadian Special Events Industry Award for Entertainer of the Year and was nominated for the same award this year, which is also my 30th year as a performer.
Your professional pursuits take you all over the world, however when you are in Vancouver, do you have any favourite venues or local events where you perform?
25 years ago, I walked into Richard’s on Richards with a VHS promo video. The manager said, ‘Tonight and tomorrow night, $500”. That was my favorite venue for many years because of the sound, lighting and atmosphere.
These days, the River Rock Show Theatre is one of my favorite venues for the same reasons. I’ve also enjoyed many great memories of shows at Celebrities Nightclub.
This work travel also supports activities in Cambodia, with your Aeroplan points being used to fly to the region to assist with children, as well as being able to donate your time and funds to a number of other charities. Can you tell us a bit about this focus and how you came to choose Cambodia in particular as a destination?
In 2010, a series of circumstances and coincidences led me on an unplanned trip to an orphanage in Cambodia. I had an amazing time there and posted pictures on Facebook. Word got out that I was planning to return and buy supplies for the children. There was an outpouring of generosity from my friends. I was able to buy 50 kids thousands of dollars worth of necessities including food, medication and basics like toothpaste and soap. The children were especially grateful to have mattresses and pillows to sleep on and new underwear. To date, I’ve made four trips there.
Besides my time in Cambodia, it has been an honour and a joy to perform for dozens of Canadian charities over the years. I met most of my closest friends 20 years ago through the Vancouver charities Friends for Life and A Loving Spoonful. Besides fundraisers, I also have also performed as my original character Lucy Potatoe for children at hospitals, Muscular Dystrophy picnics and events for persons with AIDS.
With performances on television, on stage and in film, can you describe your career trajectory and what projects you are currently working on?
Right now, I’m busy creating shows for corporate special event clients and I’m planning a public show in Vancouver to celebrate my 30th anniversary in show business. It’s been a time of reflection and inspiration that has left me looking forward to new creative opportunities.
When I’m not working, I love buying new wigs, designing new costumes, and spending time with my colleagues in the industry. We find a lot of inspiration together.
Through it all, I believe that following my bliss has been a big part of my success. If I’m having fun, the audience has more fun. At this point, I’m amazed by the surprises that I’ve had along the way and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my career has in store for me.
Any tips for young entertainers looking to break into the business in Vancouver?
When I broke into the business, I had to literally knock on doors. Google and YouTube didn’t exist; never mind social media. Things are different now, but I think professionalism is still as important as talent. Don’t act like a diva (unless it’s a part of the show). Work hard. Create, build and maintain strong relationships with clients, agents and the media. Don’t spend all the money you make – save some. Most of all, don’t ever lose your own sense of fun.
re shared from Insider Vancouverites and written by Ehren Seeland, September 8, 2015