16th January 2022
Photographer & Editor in Chief: Owen James Vincent
Make Up Artist: Jessica McQuaid
Hairstylist: Rowan Ireland
Styling: Megan Smales
Designer: Siim Adamson
Interview: Rory Mcnerney
Logo: Emily Curtis
A big thanks to Emily at Multimedia & Flow Hub
We had the chance to sit down with the exceptionally talented and beautiful, Liisi LaFontaine!
Liisi gave us an insight into what she has been up to, what inspires her, the importance of representation and what projects stir her interest! If you have been living under a rock and haven’t booked your tickets to see Moulin Rouge The Musical in the West End, what are you waiting for? Go do it now and see Liisi do her thing as the iconic Satine!
Hi Liisi! Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us at ReVamp! We love to hear how you’ve been since Moulin Rouge came out?
Hello! I’ve been good, I’ve been very tired, It’s definitely the hardest role I’ve ever done. But truly the best cast I’ve ever imagined, the team is so sweet, there is some really good energy and it’s very surreal to be back in London first of all and also back to work after the 18 months that we’ve had. I truly have all the feelings, so grateful, so happy and so thankful but also so stressful and so daunting. The show won 10 Tony’s so people are excited for the show to come out and it felt like the pressure was really on for us at rehearsals to do a good job.
How did you prepare for the iconic role of 'Satine' ?
The show goes hand in hand with the film but it's not an exact replica as the music is more up to date so there is a different vibe. I didn't want to watch the film and get caught up with what Nicole was doing, I wanted to do my own thing. I did study what was going on in the 1800’s and 1890’s in Paris because that’s what the show is based on. I watched a lot of iconic female characters such as Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyonce because it’s a mixture of the pop stars of now and also classic old Hollywood. Also a lot of working out and conditioning my body to have the stamina to do this! [laughs].
If you wouldn’t mind taking us back now! When did you first discover your passion for performing and the craft?
My Mum is a singer and my Dad a voiceover artist so I was always surrounded by artists. My Mum would always make us harmonise, you know when you go through a tunnel and you hold your breath, so instead of holding your breath she would sing a note, and my sister and I had to harmonise around her. I went to theatre groups, choirs, I also went to summer camps for performing artists. So I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing this or didn't want to do this. I generally can’t imagine my life not singing, dancing, or acting. I feel lucky growing up in Los Angeles, such a liberal city where being an actor is a valid craft unlike other places.
I had a chance to have a little stalk on your Instagram and love your sense of style! Is fashion something that interests you?
Oh yeah! I never pursue or thought about it deeply but I think it’s so cool that we can personalize our bodies with make-up, hair, and tattoos, and most importantly what we wear. I have a lot of different moods as I’m a Gemini so I can feel very tomboyish like when I arrived on set today but other times I like to be in the skimpiest possible thing I can find or something more edgy. I think it’s very cool you can personalize your mood with what you’re wearing. I love fashion, I would love to get deeper into it.
Any advice would you give to young inspiring performers out there?
I think just try and not be anyone else. Individuality is the most valuable asset you can have in this industry, there are a lot of carbon copies and a lot of “Oh who do you sound like?” etc. I think the people that become really successful are the ones who don’t look like anyone else or sound like anyone else. Even though it’s hard to mimic and be inspired by people, just stay true to yourself, and finding out what makes you a unique individual will make you set yourself apart long term.
When you’re in those audition rooms and you see other people who are different versions of you, you start getting into your head but I never look at a job that way, I always think I’m going to do this my way and just do it!
Looking at the other Satine’s who are in Broadway and Australia. The three of us are so different! We each bring something different to the role and the show and they are all equally valuable, and it kinds of shifts what the show is and what we’re bringing. Obviously, I look nothing like Nicole Kidman, I am half black and what I brought was the essence of the character in my own way, that’s what sets you apart.
Lastly become friendly with rejection because it’s 90% no!
Do you have anyone that inspires you or your work as an actress?
Yes of course! I mean a lot of people would say, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Regina King, Halle Berry but when it comes to the younger generation it comes like Zendaya and so many amazing women of color. I love Nicole Kidman, love Reese Witherspoon, and Rachel McAdams and I love a lot of people that are like chameleons like those women who have such iconic roles that are so different from each other.
Following this… What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else is something I’m still working on which is hard as we have the life of social media. I feel the happiest I’ve ever been is in the presence of people that I love and what I'm doing at the moment. I’m in the show for a year and I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do when it ends because that’s just the society we’re in. I think I’m most at peace when I’m focused on myself and try to achieve a better version of myself of who was last week, last month or even last year. The only comparison you need to focus on is to become a better version of yourself.
In the light of the BLM movement, how important do you feel representation is in the performing arts industry?
I mean it’s always been important and it’s silly that now we’ve just focused on it. We should have focused on this from the beginning and not when we saw black people being killed. I think it’s important for everyone to see themselves I’m mixed race but in our society, I am a black woman and I know that I’m representing a lot of girls who would never see themselves as Satine because they watched the movie like that’s nice but I would never be Nicole Kidman, I would never be the sparkling diamond. I can feel it when I’m coming down in the show and hear the gasp of people who probably look at me and think “Woah! She looks like me!” or “Wait? I can do something like this”. I’ve played two glamorous women in the UK and most shows about black women are about trama or slavery or the help instead of dripping in crystals and singing at the top of my lungs in a corset and a gorgeous wig is the best possible thing I could be doing and not making it about race at all and the best thing is every Satine is a woman of color all around the world right now.
When Natalie Mendoza was cast as Satine in Broadway, she received so many breathtaking comments about her Pilipino background. People were commenting saying “I’m Pilipino and I would never ever thought this would happen". So beyond the BLM of it all and being black I think every culture needs to be represented better.
You have had the opportunity to play some exciting roles in both theatre and TV/Film. Do you have your eye on any projects or characters that you’d love to sink your teeth into?
So many things! I love theatre but I would definitely like to do more TV & Film. There are so many musicals made up for films these days that I would love to do one of those. I also write a lot of my own music and would love to push out one of those projects.
Thank you so much for your time today and hope you have a fabulous run in Moulin Rouge!
Thank you so much! Come and see us!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre, London moulinrougemusical.co.uk