Updated: Aug 6
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Jeremiah Lussier
Current Location: Orange County, CA
Jeremiah, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I've always been a singer. Since childhood, I've always sang. Like most performers, I began voice lessons at age eleven and have continued since. When looking at colleges, my path could have been two ways: one, pursue musical theatre at a BFA program or two, study classical voice and go the opera route. My voice had the potential of doing opera which led me to study at Chapman University's Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. I was a vocal performance major, specializing in operatic performance. About half-way through college, I realized that opera wasn’t for me nor did it fulfill me as a performer. My first voice teacher started me with classic musical theatre like Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim. I did musicals and plays all through high school but as I said, I chose the classical path. This realization led to finishing my degree because I knew the training would never be a detriment to my artistic path. It would only further progress my training as a performer. My college voice teacher, the late Carol Neblett, suggested off and on that I would do well in musical theatre. She instilled in me the importance of discipline and always finding the opportunities to stretch myself. After graduating, I enrolled at South Coast Repertory and Saddleback College in their acting programs. I chose Saddleback College because of their esteemed acting faculty and opportunities to try out new things. It was there during an audition prep class that I met Joanne DeNaut, the casting director of South Coast Repertory. She encouraged me to do their Acting Intensive Program. It was here that laid the foundation of my acting technique. It was a crash course in everything from Michael Chekhov to Meisner methodology. At the completion of this program, I was cast in SCR’s lauded, annual production of A Christmas Carol. This allowed me to book my first equity job and thus began my career in theatre. Since then I’ve done various productions from The Fantasticks in Santa Monica to playing Jesus in Laguna Playhouse’s production of Godspell. I find that each role I tackle teaches me something new about humanity and the importance of the human experience. Each of the productions I’ve done have been relevant to the times we’re living which is why theatre is so important. I look forward to the many opportunities in the future that this path will bring.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
I'm currently the Director of Music at St. Kilian Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orange. Since high school, I've always had a church job. These are essential, especially for classically trained singers. They give you the experience of singing in front of various congregations and working with different musicians. Collaboration is key and this job allows you to work one-on-one with an accompanist weekly. As director, my goals are to unify the ministries and work for the betterment of the parish community. I'm overseeing 6 ensembles including two choirs, cantors, instrumentalists, and accompanists. It's a great blessing that in these difficult times that I'm still a full-time employee and still able to do art, just in a different manner. In regards to my current job, we debuted our digital Christmas Concert in December to great success, comprising over thirty five singers and a 6 person instrumental ensemble. It was 4 months in the making and we shot everything separately over the course of 3 weeks. On the theatre side, a good friend of mine, and fellow actor, and I have a production of Into the Woods that we're planning on mounting in the L.A. area once a new normal is established in the theatre community, most likely a year or two from now.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
No road is smooth. If it was smooth, then everyone would take it. I've definitely dealt with struggles and failure. However, failure is what builds you not only as a performer but as a person. It makes you more resilient, especially in this industry. Having the courage to keep showing up at auditions with the possibility of getting a no is admirable. I believe that every audition is my opportunity to one, work on my craft, and two, to help the casting directors make up their minds. Success is when hard work meets opportunity. It doesn't happen overnight. It's a long process but I believe it's worthwhile.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
Trust your instincts. Yes, technique is necessary as an actor and a singer. Yes, research and character study is important when learning a new role. Yes, repetition is key to learning lines. This is all the fundamental work that is built in to being a performer. Once that work is done, then the fun begins. I've learned over the years to trust my instincts as a performer. Be present in any given moment and never anticipate. Anticipation leads to worry and the actor should never worry when they're on stage. If you've done the necessary work and put the time in then there should be no anticipation.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
Take everything one step at a time. A career is built overtime. It's a long run, not a sprint. I know I'll experience challenges along the way but I know that it'll be worth it as long as I stay humble, gracious, and keep my eyes focused on where I want to go and who I want to be as an artist.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
I remember in the 5th grade I had to open up my school's Christmas concert with an a capella solo. I vividly remember looking out at what looked like a sea of people and experiencing that stillness. I again felt this when I stepped on to the stage in my high school production of Beauty and the Beast. I played Lumiere and I recall taking my first turn before singing "Be Our Guest." They're both feelings I can't really express other than pure joy and feeling very centered, I'm home.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
This would have to be booking my first equity job after finishing SCR's Acting Intensive Program. I couldn't believe that this opera kid fresh out of college would book a job at one of the most reputable regional theatres in the country. This definitely gave me the confidence to say, "Ok, I can do this."
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
The arts are essential to society. For too many years, the arts have been viewed as an escape, a break from reality, expendable. A majority of people don't realize that it's a vibrant, very present industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people. When this pandemic hit, everyone turned to their favorite TV shows, movies, streaming services. These are all part of the arts. Until we respect the profession for what it truly is we can't move forward.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I know the arts industry will endure. Even through this pandemic, you see artists everywhere from TV and film to singers continue to make art. It's forcing the industry to become creative in how they present content. I look forward to an inclusive industry where everyone is welcomed and given opportunities regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion, just to name a few. I look forward to when there's equal pay for equal work. It's ridiculous that often male and female co-stars are paid differently based on gender. If two people are sharing a film, tv show, theatre production, it should be equal pay. It's time the industry steps it up in equality for all. Often there is only talk in how to move forward. We need to see more action in making that change a reality. I know it's possible and we're starting to see those steps toward that better, progressive future.
Rose Center Theater
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