Leah Gibson grew up performing on stage dancing, singing, and in musical theatre productions. With a background in psychology at the University of Victoria, she turned her ambitions to a career in film and television acting four years ago. Since then, she has been featured in such films as Warner Brothers’ Watchmen, Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and in the SyFy network’s Caprica. Leah loves her work, loves her family, and loves her yoga– all of which she rarely goes a day without.
1. Could you tell us what attracts you to acting?
I love what I do so much and get so excited about the blossoming opportunities to do more of it that sometimes I have to pinch myself. Is this really where I find myself? How did I become so lucky? I have an appreciative fascination with the human condition, and a curiosity for ‘that which makes us all the same’. Specifically, understanding the evolutionary basis for human behavior. I was drawn to study psychology in university because I was intrigued by these questions. I aspire to understand the characters I play with a similar clarity—the difference is that in acting, I am able to embody the answer—a very exciting experience. I also love the elements of story-telling and mythology that movie-making, at the best of times, is heavily influenced by.
2. What has been your most significant acting experience to date- the one that’s left you changed?
I aspire to experience change with every character I play. Just as in real life, the practice of communicating with an open heart enables us to holistically connect with others, and be moved and affected by them. I find the same is very much true with my work. Meryl Streep has said that she gives no less respect to the life of every character she plays than she does to her very own. I try to keep this mantra close to my heart at all times. I find the more intellectual understanding I am able to offer my characters, the more the heightened experiences I have of connecting to their real beliefs and realizations, and the more I am changed, as Leah, because of it. It’s an amazing thing to experience personal growth from learning through another life– I have had a number of such heightened experiences on set, and now it is something I aspire to within my work as often as possible.
3. Can you tell us about some of your current or upcoming projects?
Absolutely! I have recently returned home from the Toronto International Film Festival, for the promotion of a beautiful independent film I was a part of, called A NIGHT FOR DYING TIGERS, written and directed by Terry Miles. It’s the dramatic perspective of a highly dysfunctional family, and I am honored to have been able to work so intimately with such an incredible cast. Among the stars are Jennifer Beals, Gil Bellows, and Kathleen Robertson.
Another beautiful Canadian indie that will be released in early 2011 is INDIE JONESING, written and directed by Stefan Wrenshall. It is a black comedy about the counter-balance of fate and personal responsibility, losing your way and finding it again… I play the romantic lead, opposite an amazing Canadian actor named Tygh Runyan.
Also being released in 2011 is Twentieth Century Fox’s CAESAR, RISE OF THE APES—a prequel to PLANET OF THE APES, directed by Rupert Wyatt. I star opposite the charming and wonderful Tom Felton.
And I am currently filming another Canadian indie feature called CAMERA SHY— I play a romantic lead in this black comedy, centred around a highly ambitious and largely immoral politician who learns a great lesson from karma.
4. What is the current state of the Canadian film industry?
It’s difficult for me to say, really. The state of any industry is largely declared from a comparative perspective- I haven’t been a part of this industry long enough to know what it looked like prior to the last 3 years—and the last 3 years have treated me well enough ;) I do find people are eager to make a judgement on the pace, the frequency, the amount, the quality- of Canada’s film industry… But I choose to perceive the industry much like the real estate market—there will be ups and downs and ebbs and flows, but at the end of the day, there will always be home-sellers and home-buyers; film-makers and audience members. Particularly with the prevalence of independent film-makers. Films will always be made in Canada. And I am proud to be a part of movie-making magic on Canadian soil.
5. What charities do you support?
I am a huge advocate for the use of artistic expression in public school systems. I will never forget how important it was for my own personal development. I passionately believe in artistic expression as a founding component in positive personal and interpersonal awareness, with potentially preventative forces that counter disordered self-belief systems and social disconnect—both of which can lead to self-destructive habits like substance abuse and addiction. If more elements of the Waldorf education system were integrated into public schooling systems, the universe would reverberate with gratitude for the increase in collective compassion wide-spread across the globe. I very much look forward to working with community outreach programs, particularly those that target under-privileged families. Song and dance are more than entertainment for an audience- they are forms of celebration and healing self-expression.