Liana survives crushing blow to put focus on acting again
In February, Liana Hall put on a pair of high heels. They were black platforms she’d bought two years before. The shoes represented a personal triumph for the 26-year-old.
She’d spent ages recovering after a table fell on her foot, crushing the bones and nerves.
She spent three months on bed rest it was many months before she could feel her foot at all.
And then came the pain and the realisation that the injury might have ended her lifelong dream of pursuing an acting career.
At that point she’d been fortunate to be featured in a nationwide campaign for American music channel Vh1, and a Bermuda Tourism commercial that aired on the US East Coast.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to get a job in acting if I had a cane or I was walking with a limp. In the beginning, I had big metal wires in my foot,” she recalled.
Massage therapist Glenn Robinson of Ashlan Clinic helped her to get rid of her limp.
“He had to pull and massage the scar tissue out of my foot,” she said.
“He was really good. I started wearing heels again in February even though the doctor told me it was unlikely for the first two years [after the accident]. I will probably always be in some pain. It is just a question of how mangeable it is. It is important for acting to be able to wear heels.”
With Dr Robinson’s help she was able to focus once again on acting.
She went to Los Angeles and was able to land two agents, one who would represent her in theatre and one for commercial work.
“A friend of mine got me an audition with an agent,” said Miss Hall. “It is very difficult to get an agent, most importantly a Screen Actors Guild franchised agency, which mine is. I was lucky to get a meeting, let alone land their representation at my first audition.
“Finding an agency is definitely the thing actors spend most of their time doing. I went to Los Angeles for four months with the express intention of coming home with one, and I got one, so I considered the trip a success.”
While she was there she landed a plum role in a play, ‘Sand in the Air’. Written by award-winning playwright Brian Raine, it’s about a doctor who’s falsely accused of sexual impropriety by one of his patients. Miss Hall played one of his patients, a Mexican factory worker.
“I had to learn Spanish for the role,” she said. “When I got the call to be Dolores I was surprised because I hadn’t tried out for that part. I thought it was going to be a line here or there in Spanish, but when I saw the script, it was a two-page monologue. I was freaking out. I got another friend to record it for me, and I listened to it while I was driving and just learned it phonetically.
“But I also had a translator translating it for the audience, and this made it difficult because in my car I could listen to it and learn it, but when you have someone in the background talking right next to you, it is very difficult to keep remembering your Spanish.”
While in California she also appeared in a play in Hollywood, ‘Seven Deadly Sins’.
Miss Hall, daughter of the late lawyer Julian Hall, had wanted to be an actor since she was a young child. At the age of 11 she pestered her mother, Isabella, to send her to a prestigious acting school in New York City.
Her mother insisted she get a formal education first. She attended the Bermuda High School for Girls until she was 12 and then Seven Oaks School in Kent, England.
“My mother said when I was 18, I could go to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA),” said Miss Hall. “Unfortunately, when I was 16 years old, my father was declared bankrupt. I realised I really wanted something that would give me a good financial backing so I would always have something to fall back on. Instead of applying to RADA or any drama schools, I applied to law schools.”
Her father was also very interested in the theatre but he had a mixed view of her choosing acting as a profession. He wanted to see her called to the Bermuda Bar.
She said: “But he came to see me perform in November 2008 in Los Angeles, and he said ‘I can see that this is your passion and I will support you’.”
After graduating from high school, Miss Hall took a year off and found an agent in Toronto, Canada.
Unfortunately, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) scare hit Canada during that time and all the filming stopped, but she did a lot of modelling, and got more into theatricals. After her gap year, she studied law at University College, London where she obtained her law degree. She went to New York, passed the bar exam, and then entered the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York.
“I loved that,” she said. “It was like acting boot camp. It was emotionally wrenching sometimes. Every Thursday, when I had classes, I would come home and be crying and having an acting crisis of faith. But, by the time it was over I was like ‘I can do this’.”
She studied method acting, which she found worked for her. Method acting is about using things from your own past and experiences that you want to have.
Miss Hall is now looking to work as a clerk in a law firm in Los Angeles. “Acting is really my priority,” she said. “Law is just a way to keep myself afloat.”
Her dream is to appear in a situation comedy.
“You have this energy from the audience that pushes you through,” she said. “You also have to learn to pause for the laughter, but I would love to be in a sit com now.”
She is currently back in Bermuda until September.
“That is when they cast all the new shows,” she said. “That is the best time for anyone who is starting out, or unknown, or not from the United States. They cast a lot of unknowns because it is cheaper. They will cast you for a pilot, they shoot the pilot and then they wait.
“The network will decide if they want to take the pilot on. They order a few episodes. Hopefully, if you get a good 12 shows, that is great. Then you wait, and hope hope hope that the viewership is there, and if it is they keep you on. Being an actor it is very precarious all the time.”
Useful website: www.lianahall.com