Interview: Luvia Peterson – Canadian Actor/Director
This edition, Mojo Junction was lucky enough to catch up with Luvia Petersen, an actor/director hailing from Vancouver, BC. She’s best known for her work as the sexy and powerful character, Jasmine Garza on SyFy’s Continuum. Her first professional job came at the age of 25, when she was cast in the Emmy-nominated TV series The L-Word. She has most recently guest-starred on TNT’s Proof , ABC/CTV’s Motive the CW’s The 100 and The Tomorrow People, USA’s Psych and Dreamworks Falling Skies. Among her film credits, Luvia is proud to have worked on two features that originated as iconic television series, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan , and The X Files: I Want to Believe. It was a pleasure speaking with Luvia about what inspires her creatively and what goes on behind the scenes.
What was the initial lure to acting for you and is that element still a meaningful part of your job?
The initial lure to acting was the way my heart felt when I was introduced to the possibility that I COULD be an actor. From that moment on I couldn’t quiet the voice inside that said DO IT! Now more then ever, I listen to my heart and try my best to follow the path it leads me down. Not only is it still a meaningful part of my job, lt’s a requirement. I used to think being an actor meant portraying someone else. Someone not at all like me. I now have come to understand that acting is allowing the most authentic part of me to be seen. That ability stems from leading with my heart.
In your development as an actor, did you have a light-bulb moment when you felt like a professional or was it a gradual process?
My development has been, and continues to be, a series of light-bulb moments followed by plateaus and setbacks. My growth process in acting, much like life, is volatile. I sometimes wish it could be a beautiful and exponential bell curve, alas, that would rob me of the journey. Just when I think, ‘I’ve got this thing handled’ the carpet gets pulled out and I am given the humble gift of feeling like a beginner all over again. I call it a gift because once I’m on the other side of adversity, I am a better human being and actor. What a gift.
Do you have any personal rituals that help you prepare to be on camera?
I prepare the night before. Make sure I’ve done all my homework so that I can let go and be myself in the audition room. The day of, I like to do some stretches, vocal warm ups and anything else that gets me in my body. While I’m putting on my make up, I like to give myself verbal affirmations. It’s silly but it works! I say things like, ‘I’m a good actress!’ and ‘People like me.’ I need to do these things because if I don’t, my inner critic will speak for me. It says terrible things to me like ‘You are going to bomb this audition’, and ‘They are bringing you in out of pity’, or ‘your agent probably had to push to get you this audition, don’t screw it up’. I used to do this without even knowing I was doing it. Then one day, I woke up and said, ‘Holy shit! What am I saying to myself?’ This awakening has helped me immensely, although the critic is always there waiting for me to feed it. So I must remain mindful and present as to not give it a soap box in my head!
You have often been cast in high-action roles. Do you perform your own stunts or work with a stunt double and how do you decide when to do so?
I like to perform my own stunts but I leave the acrobatic stuff to my stunt double. I am no good as an actor if I can’t walk the next day. In my experience, the production has always provided a stunt double for me. Even if I am going to do many of my own stunts, it feels good to know there is someone there specifically for me. My stunt double makes sure I’m safe, provides pads for me and watches to make sure I look good at what I’m doing.
You have recently started your directing career. How does the experience of directing differ from acting. Do you prefer to be in front or behind the camera?
The way I look at it, as an actor you are much like an instrument. You are to be played by story tellers, the writer, the director, the editor etcetera. Your job, therefore, is to take care of your body, keep it in tune, and allow the story to be told through you. As a Director, I get to PLAY all the instruments. I have a much more hands-on responsibility to tell the story. I can be much more creative and tell the story I want to tell. I’m not sure if I enjoy one over the other as they are both very different passions of mine. Who knows where I will be in ten years time, but for now, I can’t image a life where I’m not actively doing both.
Photos: Jessie Robertson Photography
For more info or to follow Luvia’s blog visit: www.luviapetersen.com