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Josie Lane in the driver’s seat

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Josie Lane is the star of our interview series today and gives us hilarious and poignant insights into her passions and her talents that have kept her in the driver’s seat of her career for over 5 years. 

At the time of our chat, Josie has just come off the back of her Spiegeltent debut and reveals her joy and attitude about what has kept her successful in landing roles in some of Australia’s biggest stage shows Priscilla- The Queen Of the Desert, Avenue Q and Fame. 

Josie Lane headshot

Australian actress and singer Josie Lane. Image by Blueprint Studios

You’ve most recently performed Josie in the Bathhouse at the Spiegeltent in Melbourne, what was the highlight of that experience?

Lets see… Umm, performing at the famous Spiegeltent!

Other than that, I think it was mainly two things:

The first being that I was able to do something that was truly mine in my hometown, so all of my family and friends could see it. I was also in town previously doing shows with David Campbell, so it was a nice double bill for all of them.

In this line of work you are always either performing somewhere else on a tour in another state, or at a private event where they can’t see – so it was very special to finally have them see what it is I do for a living.  And in turn they were all happy, proud and finally understood why I am always away, and why this is all so important to me.

The other was working with certain people… once again with Dean Bryant, which is fantastic for me, as I feel we understand each other so well. Our partnership has made the show so much better every time. Working with Mathew Frank again as Musical Director, which was another full circle moment (we first worked together professionally on Spelling Bee), and my partner Chris Wright who played guitar in the show.

It was really a highlight to be able to share this accomplishment with those special people in my life who matter most to me, and being up there with them and performing for them in my hometown was a very special feeling. 

" I am always eternally grateful for all of the lessons I learnt during my time at CPCA, which is where I gained a lot of the core values that have kept me going strong today."

You’ve been performing since a you were a young girl at Melbourne’s CPCA, what has been the best advice you were given on your journey?

So many things! I am always eternally grateful for all of the lessons I learnt during my time at CPCA, which is where I gained a lot of the core values that have kept me going strong today. Being taught by people such as Mathew Frank, Colette Mann and Jackie Green who all have “strong work ethic” was probably the best thing for a teenager to observe.

Also, some great advice I was given was to “let things go” and trust. Sometimes your body and voice will ache, but you have to let go of the worry and fear. Trust “Dr footlights”, and if all else fails – take a break, be calm because the fear and worry only exacerbates. We are people, not machines, so you have to accept that a little bit of wear and tear is normal!

How important is it to you to live a FULL life that encompasses both theatre and other passions?

For me that is the BIGGEST factor. You MUST and I say again MUST have interest in so many different things, because, of course, that is what a life is made up of.

It’s so important to have other hobbies, talk to people from all walks of life and try new things – because that’s how you learn to be a better person and artist. A colourful life can also help you recover from certain things, like a really awful audition or gig. It’s good to have those bigger picture moments when you’re feeling crappy, and being able to laugh at yourself, because you know your life is bigger than a bad moment.

For instance, I’m learning how to do magic tricks! No, I’m not planning to be the next David Copperfield, but it’s something that’s random and fun. My partner is a musician, but he is also really into scuba diving. He finds the experience of being underwater surreal, and a total departure from music. I love finding out these things about people, especially because you get to learn about their other passions.

Experience is the key to a wealth of knowledge and a greater life – onstage and off.

"Experience is the key to a wealth of knowledge and a greater life – onstage and off"

How do you prepare for gigs? You work a lot, so I’m sure our readers would love to hear your process and tips!

What does Josie do to bes her best on the day?

Well, like most people I like to research the hell out of something – not too much though. I don’t usually like to watch a Broadway performance of a show first, as I don’t want to subconsciously borrow from other actors.

I generally like to learn material before I go to bed. It may just be my own kooky thing, but I find I can really focus and remember things at night. Before the day, I look everything over again just before I go to sleep, and then BAM, there it is the next day!  So when I wake up, it’s more about feeling good and ready for the audition. Then I can just focus on getting there and being the part.

I generally go in with the mindset of being confident in what I can bring to the party, because the rest isn’t up to me. Sometimes I know I may not be the best fit for a role, but even if I’m “Fanta” in this audition room – I’m gonna f**king rock as Fanta! Take that Coke! 

What do you do when you slip up on stage?

To be honest I don’t know…  I wish I could say I take a big deep breath, then I’m back on the horse, but I don’t know… I actually can’t describe how I’ve ever gotten out of them. All I know is that it happens, and all of a sudden it’s not happening anymore… I guess it’s just knowing your material inside out, so when it happens you just move on.

Of course those moments seem a million times bigger than they are. I’ve had so many of them – really silly things – like singing the wrong verse in a song and laughing a little, or falling over in a giant paint brush costume while leading a chorus of other paint brushes.

I love the concentration that comes after – the hyper-awareness you feel when that adrenaline hits. Let’s not forget the big, “Oops”! 

How much does goal-setting play in your life as a performer? 

I like to set smaller goals that intertwine with a bigger picture.

I find it helpful because I’m feeling satisfied all the time. Setting near-future goals is great – it’s an addiction! Your many achievable “small goals” along the way keep you on track, because there is more fruit for your labor.

It’s also important because it helps me assess life situations better, like when to say yes or no to jobs, or where to invest my time and money.

For example, I really want to get into the Australian revival of the Lion King in 2013, and hopefully play one of the Hyenas (Shenzi). I have set myself many smaller goals for this, which will benefit me regardless if I get into the production or not, i.e. working on my core strength, character voice acting and revisiting my puppet skills.

Having a lasting career is a big lifetime goal for me! It’s not so much the ‘rise to the top’ that I’m focused on – I just want to be happy, proud and respected for what it is I’m doing – and have a whole lot of fun doing it!

Josie can be seen during the year touring with David Campbell on the road  in his Let’s Go Tour  

Rebecca has written 35 articles on AussieTheatre
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Website: Bex Grennan