Interview with Head Held High Teacher, Lydia Buckley-Gorman
In this post, we meet one of our amazing teachers, Lydia Buckley-Gorman. Who is she? How did she get here? Where have we seen her before (hint, it’s on TV)? And, what’s her message for young people with a love for speech and drama? We throw all the tough questions (and lots of fun ones) at Lydia!
Lydia is incredibly caring, empathetic, talented, and above all – FUN! As such an important influence on your child or teenager, we thought you’d like to get to know her a little bit better…
Q. You’ve recently starred on Shortland St. What was your character like to play, and how was the overall experience of being on NZ’s most successful TV show?
Talia was AWESOME to play. She is tough but has a lot of vulnerability which I think is easy to relate to. I loved bonding with my onscreen son (Marley – played by Billy) and acting alongside Ben and Ria (Drew and Harper) who were awesome. Working with a few different directors was a pretty special experience. It was an exciting challenge to act in some highly emotionally charged scenes, and with a really fast turnover. Shortland Street was such a joy – the people are honestly so welcoming, lovely and fun. It was definitely an experience I’ll hold close to me.
Q. What experiences led you to be teaching for Head Held High?
I got so much out of being taught by my speech and drama teachers growing up – whether it was extra curricular, at High School, University or in my Theatre and Screen classes I attended as an adult. Each one held something different to offer and I’ve always really valued that. I met the awesome Holly Shervey (fellow HHH teacher and successful NZ actor) in an acting class where we were doing a scene together. We became friends and she told me about Head Held High and how much she loved it. She thought I could be a good fit, so that’s where it all started! It helped that I started to spend a lot more time with kids when I moved up to Auckland – I have two young cousins here and I started working part time as a kid’s entertainer. I realised I wanted to spend more time with them and offer anything I could – kids are the funniest people I know.
Q. Did you do speech and drama as a child?
In Primary School I used every opportunity I could to do anything drama related. I wrote and directed our school film in year 6 – a ‘who-dunnit’ horror set in our school. I started taking speech and drama class when I first started high school.
Q. What do you most love about teaching speech and drama?
I love seeing growth in the students I teach. That growth can come from teaching the same student for years and seeing their confidence and skills develop, or sometimes it comes overnight. Someone will have decided they’re suddenly not afraid of speeches. Whenever I see someone make a breakthrough I get a little ‘proud mom’ moment and it’s so fulfilling. I also love when kids take me by surprise – recently I’ve given groups 5 minutes to come up with a devised scene, and the story and characters they have come up with in that time is so impressive. Kids often don’t have that overthinking voice in their head that adults develop – and it allows them to create the most imaginative and clever stories. One thing I want to do as a teacher is keep that voice away (or at bay).
Q. What are your 3 favourite books?
1. I’m a sucker for any of the Harry Potter books
2. ‘Kafka on the Shore’ by Haruiki Murakami
3. I really enjoyed reading three Stephen King books in lockdown (The Long Walk, The Running Man and Misery)…but I’m not sure if my heart rate has ever gone back down after reading those!
Q. What are your 3 favourite movies?
This is so hard! At the moment I’d say:
1. The Intouchables.
3. The Lion King (you can’t beat nostalgia), or The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli).
Q. Who are your 3 favourite actors?
Olivia Coleman, Steve Carell and Viola Davis. Special shout out to Catherine O’Hara as Moira in Schitt’s Creek (I think she’s one of the funniest characters in TV history).
Q. What’s a Head Held High value that’s important to you as a teacher?
“Inspiration!” As educators, this is what we want to represent, and what our classes should be about. We inspire with a sense of positivity and fun!
Q. What are you working on outside of Head Held High?
I’ve been writing on and off for a while on a few projects. The first is a solo piece that a friend is going to film and direct, the second is a series about the Dawn Raids and the third is a comedy web series.
Q. What have been your acting career highlights so far?
Touring Pop Up Globe around New Zealand and Perth, winning ‘Best Show’ at Short and Sweet with a little comedy show I wrote and performed in with my best mate, acting alongside John Callen (from The Hobbit) on a TV show called Straight Forward (he was so lovely), and playing Talia on Shortland Street!
Q. If you were given an elephant and couldn’t give it away or sell it, what would you do with it?
Win its trust, befriend it, and train it to enter when I say ‘we need to talk about the elephant in the room.’