Catriona James ’98

Post-graduate diploma in Acting, East 15 Acting School
MA Shakespeare & Theatre, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
BA Honours, English & History, University of Toronto

Catriona started in Elmwood in Grade 8, and graduated in the class of 1998. She works as an actor and physical performer in Cardiff, UK, specializing in devised and site-specific performances, contemporary dance, and cabaret.

We chatted recently with Catriona to look back at her experiences as an Elmwood girl.

Do you have a fondest memory of being a student at Elmwood?

I don’t really have one particular fond memory, but I had really good times with my friends there, and very good relationships with some of my teachers. I also loved the two school plays I did.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was involved in so much extra-curricular activity that I can’t remember it all! To name a few: Choir, yearbook, the Duke of Edinburgh Programme, two school plays, and trips to the Stratford Festival. Drama was absolutely my favourite, although I didn’t work up the courage to take part in it until Grade 12. Playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan in Grade 13 is still one of my favourite roles.

What was your favourite subject?

English was my favourite subject, because I love reading and storytelling. I also got along really well with my English teachers. I remember moments of English classes with clarity.

How did Elmwood affect your university path?

This is a tough one to answer! When you’re young, I think it’s difficult to figure out whether you like something because you’re good at it, or whether you should strive to be good at something because you love it. I was strong academically, so that’s the direction I first went in at university. It actually took me most of my twenties to figure out that what I really loved was acting. So I went to drama school quite late (after doing two other degrees first) and it has changed my life.

Do you have any advice for today’s Elmwood students?

Well, it’s a cliché, but I’d say it’s often the things you learn outside of classrooms that are the most important. Also, it’s important to trust your instincts about what you feel is right for you.

If you could sum up your feelings about Elmwood in a single sentence, what would it be?

Being at Elmwood definitely gave me a lot of opportunities for exploration, and that is something I still appreciate greatly.

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