Langley, British Columbia—It is a challenging task to blend faith with the entertainment industry. But Vancouver Island-born actor and Trinity Western University graduate Michelle Lieffertz has managed to do just that—and find joy in the process. Lieffertz, who earned her masters of fine arts in acting from one of the top five training schools in Britain, recently returned to Canada to appear in the production of Charley’s Aunt at Chemainus Theatre on Vancouver Island, and to share her wisdom and experience with Trinity Western’s drama students.
“When done well, theatre is a very powerful voice,” says Lieffertz, who was one of only 16 actors selected from approximately 600 in a six-hour audition in New York for a place in London’s Arts Educational School. “It reaches out to people at an intellectual level, but also at a deeper level, at the place where we’re all human and suffer from the same condition—a sin nature.”
Lieffertz didn’t always think she would be an actor. She originally planned to be a missionary in South America. Now an active part of England’s arts scene, she would say that her plans to be a missionary have come true, even though God has placed her in a different setting than she imagined.
“One of the most powerful industries in North America is the entertainment industry,” says Lloyd Arnett, PhD, chair of TWU’s drama department who has worked on films with Paramount and with companies including the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Stage. “I think it’s important for our students to be there, to influence what happens at that power base and to reach other people who are in that industry.”
It was at TWU where Lieffertz gained her grounding in acting and the arts. Performing on TWU’s chapel drama team, TWU’s touring shows and in several productions at the University, Lieffertz credits her classmates and instructors with helping her learn how to integrate faith and art.
“I realized that it was important to do what I do with excellence, not just to a good enough standard,” says Lieffertz. “And that in doing my very best as an actor, by finding the absolute truth of a character or play, God was glorified. He’s not just honoured when we paint rose coloured caricatures of what the ideal person should be.”
Lieffertz worked as an apprentice actor at Chemainus Theatre on Vancouver Island after graduating from TWU, and decided to further her training in England, where she dedicated 12 hours each day, six days a week to London’s intense year-long acting program.
“There is something deep within Britain’s 1,000 year-old culture that turns out exquisitely technical actors, people who have talent honed to a fine point,” says Lieffertz, who continues to act on London’s stages and has become a member of British Actor’s Equity, the professional union for actors in England.
But it is not only work on-stage that motivates Lieffertz to continue in her challenging profession. “Many people in theatre have felt the heavy hand of the law from the Christian community, but never the love of the gospel,” she says. “That is my privilege—to introduce them to the joy that comes from knowing the love of God, from knowing and living it myself.”
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,000 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2007-09-26