“The seawall is a perfect walk whatever the weather”
Jill effortlessly conjured up the most maniacal laugh I’ve experienced during our portrait session. That’s what happens when one works with an actor, singer, dancer and performing arts teacher. Photoshoots take on a different dimension. As Jill is another of my Brits in Vancouver she, therefore, gets a chance to tell her own story rather than someone else’s. So, here we go.
I asked, “Why Vancouver?”
“A quarter-to-mid-ish life crisis; kind of a long story. But I had always wanted to live in Canada at some point, for an undetermined amount of time. However, there had always been more reasons to stay in England and put that off. Due to a few changes in my life at that time, the balance shifted to the point where I felt like the option became a no-brainer.”
Jill made the move early in 2013 and hasn’t looked back.
“I always felt an affinity to Vancouver when I’d travel over here to visit my dad (who lives in Prince George). There was something magical about it, still is.”
Being here has certainly offered Jill the opportunity to take her performing arts career to new heights and, a couple of years ago, she formed her first Theatre Company, ‘Direct Theatre Collective’ based in Richmond. With the current pandemic restriction, times are certainly challenging but I sense that Jill has the resolve and creativity to come through this period and offer Vancouver much more of her talent.
“How about when you’re not performing, directing, producing, teaching. Where do you go to have downtime or fun?” I asked.
“Outside, anywhere. Mostly the beaches though in summer, and the seawall is a perfect walk whatever the weather.”
There’s no escaping the outdoors answers from the Brits I speak to. Whatever their tastes, being out in nature or just the fresh-air usually figures in the replies I get.
As Jill had mentioned her dad being Canadian, I wanted to know where else she’d visited in Canada.
“Many places, I have family all over the place so I’ve been around a bit.”
The follow up was “Okay, how about some specifics of where else you’d move to if Vancouver was no longer an option? “
“The Okanagan. Or if travelling further afield likely Toronto or Montreal.”
That seems to be a split between a lifestyle choice and the draw of larger cities for their more expansive arts environments.
Speaking of lifestyle choices, what advice would Jill offer the potential emigrant?
“If you have the opportunity, do it. I was so fortunate that I already have dual citizenship - so my journey and my decision was A LOT easier than most.”
The Brits I speak to and photograph have all made that significant life decision to relocate from familiarity to something different. Even though Jill is a dual-citizen and has Canadian family, what did she find hardest about the move?
“Being far away from loved ones in England, family and friends.”
Despite being able to create a new or different life I often find that there’s still a desire to be able to just hang out with one’s friends or family. I’m still in contact with friends in the UK and I feel there are times when I’m closer to them than people I’ve met here. The familiar is comforting. Real friendships, grown over years, stand firm and that’s a good thing.
Other than family and friends, what else does Jill miss about the UK?
“Proper pubs and proper chocolate. An abundance of curry houses. Hula hoops. Oh, and 3 for $10 bottles of wine. Aaaaaand the accents; all of them. Okay, I’m done.”
I had a really fun portrait shoot with Jill. As with other performers I’ve worked with on this project, her ability to shape-shift and become different characters shines through. It also reminds me how much I appreciate and applaud everyone else that’s given their time to Brits in Vancouver. For some, stepping in front of the camera hasn’t been the easiest thing to do, yet they still do it. Maybe it’s part of the immigrants' mindset; stepping out of the comfort zone and embracing the unknown.
Jill, thank you for your time and laughter. It was great to meet you. Welcome to the Tardis.
Find out more about Jill the performer.
You’ll find more images from Brits in Vancouver on my photography site.