Thursday, October 13, 2011

PAC Alumna Brooke Blanchard, formerly of 'Grey's Anatomy,' Stops in for a Visit!

PAC was graced with the presence of one of our many talented alumnas yesterday, the one and only Brooke Blanchard (Class of '98). She and newborn Cole showed up (her third child) to say hello to Beth and sit down with Conservatory Confessions for some dish.

Brooke Blanchard, Class of '98
If you don't know Brooke, she's an absolute PAC success story: after leaving the Conservatory, she moved to New York City, where she played twins Lily and Rose on "As The World Turns" for four years (2000-2004). After that, she moved to Los Angeles where she became a series regular on "Grey's Anatomy" as Jill the Paramedic. Brooke's character has appeared in 11 episodes over six years, often spouting medical jargon that makes your head spin around WHILE wheeling a gurney down a hall at top speed.

Recently, Brooke and family have been spending more time in Portland, where Brooke will be able to concentrate on raising her brood while managing her photography business, Brooke Blanchard Photography.  

We got some great pearls of wisdom from Brooke while Cole slept, nursed and gurgled here at the PAC office. She remembered waitressing in NYC and doing theatre when she was first cast on "As the World Turns."
On doing a soap:
It was a lot like theatre, it's the most similar camera-acting job to theatre, because they film you in longer takes. And you get a new, complete script every week. It was also the first time in my life I got to say 'I’m an actress because I make my living off of it.'"

On going to the Daytime Emmys for "As the World Turns":
“I was like a kid in a candy store” 

After three seasons, Brooke's character(s) got kidnapped. Unsure if she'd get axed and craving a change, Brooke started finalizing her intended move to Los Angeles. In the meantime, she'd get written into an episode of ATWT. Brooke's ex-boyfriend was FedExing her the scripts that would show up at her old apartment, and she'd book a plane to make the shoot dates. She'd often jump on a redeye from LAX, take a car service to the ATWT studio, and head straight back to the airport without setting foot in a domicile. When waking up at night on an airplane, sometimes Brooke didn't know if she was headed East or West!

On establishing oneself in LA:
"I theorize that if you are 19 and gorgeous, or very unique and quirky you will find your place. I was not really any of those things. I was a dime a dozen – usually I went in the back door through theatre."

Brooke was living off her ATWT residuals and bartending when another return to the boards brought her closer to her next on-screen gig. While doing a world premiere play by one of the writers of "Grey's Anatomy," “Me, My Guitar and Don Henley," Brooke got to know the playwright, who helped get her into the casting director's office for GA. 

On getting on GA:
"It game me a certain sense of accomplishment, getting on primetime. I had thought of giving up acting after moving to LA"

On working with Sandra Oh:
"Sandra Oh has a fantastic work ethic – she was amazing on set to everyone. She knew me through the writer, but she was not just nice to me because of that. I saw her go introduce herself to extras – and I saw the opposite of that with other people."

On playing Jill and memorizing her medical monologues:
"I stressed more over that paragraph than I would over 20 pages of dialogue."

On what PAC gave her: 
"PAC is a really great program. I've worked with people who went hrough Tisch, Northwestern, Columbia, and I never felt that they had a leg up on me. Everyone has their own style and talent, but as there’s talent and then there’s knowledge. I always felt like I had a really good base coming from here." 

On school, pressure, and classes:
"When I went to PAC, the audition process to get into 2nd year was a really intense…do or die. For me it was, 'If you don’t do second year, what do you do?' The pressure on you was good. We worked hard here. I've taken lots of classes to stay in touch with my creativity since leaving PAC, and nothing has been as serious."

On how children have changed her perspective on acting:
"I used to stay up nights thinking about my career. That changes. I know now I can do some theatre here and there, but I don’t have to make my living at it."

On her career as a whole:
"What I’ve seen as a life lesson is when you get to one rung, no matter where you are you need to figure out how to be happy, because there’s always a next rung. You've got to find joy outside the business of acting."