Lisa Durupt builds something new
Lisa Durupt is a veteran actress with a long list of credits to her name, but even veterans need to switch it up every once in a while to show that they’re capable of more.
Since her breakout role as the villainous Shandra in Mark McKinney’s Less Than Kind – which earned her a Gemini nomination and multiple Leo noms – the Winnipeg-born, GVRD-based actress has thrived in what she describes as “quirky roles”: comedic turns in network, studio, and indie projects like Preggoland, Sunnyhearts Community Centre, and Hallmark’s über-popular Murder, She Baked television film series.
But 2018 has been a year of change for Durupt. While she hasn’t completely eschewed her place in what she once described as the quirky corner, she’s finally getting the chance to shine in thoroughly un-quirky roles, too.
“I understand why it can take people longer to see something the way you see it,” she says in a recent phone interview. “You can view yourself in one way, but maybe people view you differently, and somewhere you have to get real with yourself and go, ‘Okay, is it that I’m not understanding what they’re seeing, or does it mean that I have to work harder and prove myself more to get them to see what I have to show them?’ I think this is the year it came together for me.”
What does this shift in perspective look like? It looks like the role Durupt filmed earlier this year in Breakthrough, a faith-based drama based on the bestselling book by Joyce Smith that documents the miraculous recovery of her 14-year-old son after he nearly drowned in an icy lake. Says Durupt: “The mom wouldn’t let them give up. She wouldn’t let them pronounce him dead. She stayed with him for days and prayed. In the actual notes of the doctor, he wrote something along the lines of, ‘Child pronounced dead, mother prayed, child somehow came back to life.’ It’s a very sweet story.” Chrissy Metz (This Is Us) plays Joyce Smith; Topher Grace (That '70s Show) plays Pastor Jason Noble; Durupt plays Paula Noble, the pastor’s wife. The film will be released in April 2019 – just in time for Easter.
Durupt also returned to Alberta for multiple episodes of Heartland (CBC’s long-running, horse-centric family drama), amped up the quirky for a role in Benchwarmers 2, and reunited with Murder, She Baked co-star (and daytime royalty; #TeamSamiBrady) Alison Sweeney for The Chronicle Mysteries, a new Hallmark series developed by Sweeney.
Sweeney stars as Roberta McPherson, a true crime podcaster who inherits her uncle’s newspaper, the Harrington Chronicle, and begins to pull the thread on cold cases in her hometown – including one involving Durupt’s character, Gina DeSavio. “In real life, Ali loves true crime stories,” says Durupt, who will recur throughout the series. “It’s one thing – of many! – that she and I have in common.” The Chronicle Mysteries will premiere this fall.
Durupt’s growth isn’t limited to the kinds of characters she's (finally) getting the chance to play. In September, she’ll begin a new chapter with Tricities Film Studio, which she describes as the first-ever film training studio in the Tri-Cities.
“We film all the time out in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge and Langley, but there’s really nothing past Burnaby if you want to take class, or tape,” says Durupt, who lives in the Tri-Cities region.
Thus, Tricities Film Studio will offer acting classes for kids, youth, and adults, as well as a full-access taping studio and classes in tactical fighting taught by Gary Herman.
The acting classes will be kept small – no more than 10 students – and will reflect what Durupt (a former hockey player once on the fast-track to a professional career) calls her sports-minded approach to acting.
“You make a game plan, figure out what you need to work on specifically, and keep it fun,” says Durupt. “It’s not about being the best at anything. It’s about being your best, and how do we find that and coach that out of you? With sports, what always helped me was having a coach that I trusted and that understood me, as opposed to trying to fit me into one particular model that everyone fits into. No two people, no two kids, no two actors are the same.”