Meet Shona Struthers, AKA Lilith in UBC Theatre's Newest Production, She Kills Monsters

Full Name: Shona Struthers

Year: 3rd

Major and how you chose it: BFA in Acting – it kind of fell from the sky to be honest. I wanted to be a nurse and then go to med school, but once I got a taste of the professional world there was no turning back.

Why UBC: I fell in love with UBC when I toured it with my older brother for one of his university prospects. A lot of my family is in Vancouver, but the campus and how many possibilities were offered was what pulled me in.

Favourite place on campus: There's a little pond between Buchanan and IKB in the bushes. It's been closed off for construction for about 2 years, but every time I pass it I want to scale the fence and read there. 

How long have you been acting and what made your pursue it in the first place?: My family will say I've been acting since I could talk, but I started taking lessons when I was 11. I took a gap year at Pacific Theatre and was an Acting Apprentice and it changed my life and my whole outlook on theatre and the arts. You can be a working actor! It's not impossible, and people are really kind, willing to invest in you, and are willing to take chances on up-and-coming artists. 

How did you become involved with UBC theatre? What is your favourite production you’ve been in thus far?: I auditioned for UBC in my gap year after talking with a few former grads about it, and got accepted into the BFA. This production is absolutely my favourite so far because it's SO FUN and incorporates so many cool elements! Also, it introduced me to the world of stage combat, which is like having a grade school crush all over again - I get excited to get up in the morning, I actually wash my face, it's great. 

Which character do you play in She Kills Monsters? What about this character inspires you?: I play Lilith, who's a Demon Queen – I love how aggressively herself she is, how unapologetically intense she can be. 

What about playing this character has challenged you?: Just going balls-to-the-wall and going for things. There's no space in Lilith for my insecurities about my choices, and I have to completely trust the whole team and dive in the deep end. And if I'm doing something that's not working, Keltie (our director) will tell me! 

Why do you think it is important to portray strong women in entertainment?: Strong women have been in my life since day one (thanks Mom!), and almost all the women I know are strong, inventive, creative, and most importantly, complex and therefore fully human. We need female empowerment stories portrayed because we are surrounded by them every day, and female empowerment doesn't just mean women kicking some ass (although that's my personal favourite version of empowerment), it means giving female characters full allowance to be complete people (or magical creatures), and not just a hollow shell or a throwaway character. You're going to see some messy parts in this show that happen because of what women choose to do, and that's truly empowering.

What do you think that audiences will love most about this play: Oh MAN, all of it? This play is a spectacle! Probably the fighting (our fight directors have done an AMAZING job choreographing this beast), but hopefully audiences leave here with much more than that. There's a huge heart to this show with the sister relationship between Agnes and Tilly, and complicated emotional hurdles being tackled between spilling some monster guts. 

What are your future goals? Do you plan to continue with acting?: I'd like to work! TV, film, theatre, I'd like to work as an actor. Which is laughably difficult, but I like to laugh, so... who knows? I'm going to work my ass off trying to get jobs, or creating them, or a mixture of both! 

How do you balance being a student with extracurricular activities?: You tell yourself you're going to meal plan, you tell yourself you're going to start that project early, you tell yourself you're going to get a full 8 hours sleep tonight, you tell yourself that yeah, for sure you still have other friends, you tell yourself you're going to finish all your work tonight and not tomorrow at lunch, and you try and do all of them. Sometimes you only succeed at a few, and – the most important part – you don't beat yourself up about it.

How can other students get involved with UBC theatre?: Come to the shows! Tell your friends if you liked the shows! Get involved backstage! Audition for the BFA if you want to! Only the BFA Acting majors are onstage for UBC main stage shows, but the UBC Player's Club puts on plays with open auditions if that's your thing! The theatre is like a clock, and acting is only the face of it – backstage, designing, pulling all the invisible strings you don't see is where all the magic happens. 

Quote you live by: "The roof is not my son, but I will raise it." – Nancy Reagan

If you could be any literary/TV/movie character, who would you be and why: I was obsessed with these medieval fantasy books by Tamora Pierce – any of the heroines in those. They get to where they're going because they work at something and they just don't stop. It's dope.

She Kills Monsters will be showing at Chan Centre from January 18th to February 3rd, 2018. Make sure to get your tickets and support some amazing UBC talent! Also be sure to check out Shona's instagram @shonastrut.

Headshot of Shona is photographed by Emily Cooper