In this interview with Vancouver actor, Aliyah O’Brien, she uses the word penis and vagina casually while discussing her role as a lesbian on the hit Global TV show, Rookie Blue. But O’Brien is more than just a liberal speaker, she is an altogether liberated actor, and a self-proclaimed “personal growth junkie” on a quest for joy, awesomeness, and a life lived on a picnic blanket.
If she had divine power for a day, this sweet cookie wouldn’t want to win the lottery or ensure her unfaltering fame, no, she says she would fill every person with self-love and see what happens. One can’t help but wonder if songbirds help her dress in the morning before or after she dips her soul in sugar.
While a big, fat Non-Disclosure Agreement puts the hush on her projects, she assures that she is “sitting in her trailer right now working on a big feature.” This feature is nothing shy of “super fun,” where she gets to work with and learn from some amazing people.
What O’Brien can tell us however is details on the indie TV show she is working on called “School of Fish,” about a bunch of people approaching 30, and the challenges they face. “The writer, Mark Lewis, is brilliant and it’s one of those projects where you feel your inner artist will be fed well.”
Talk to me about your character, Holly, on Rookie Blue (lesbian) – how do you feel playing that character, do you believe yourself when you are playing Holly or do you feel like you are acting?
Hmmm that’s a good question? I love playing Holly! I think often in film and TV women characters end up being a little 1 or 2 dimensional. Holly is a real person. She’s smart and caring, a little nerdy and she sees Gail for who she truly is, a quirky, scared, beautiful woman. And Charlotte is just so delicious (interesting choice of word) to work with it’s easy to step into Holly’s shoes.
You have gained quite a following in the lesbian community, how does that make you feel? Do you feel like the lines are ever blurred between who you are and the characters you portray, as in, some people assume you actually ARE a lesbian?
I love my lesbian fans! They are truly awesome! And as a proud supported of gay rights, I feel honoured to play a lesbian on TV. What I love about Holly and Gail is it’s not some cheap ploy to have lesbian sex scenes to boost ratings – they are real people that see each other for who they truly are and fall for each other.
THIS is what I identify with. If you asked me what my sexuality is I wouldn’t say “straight”, I’d say “who cares”. I’m attracted to men and women, it’s not about the penis or vagina, it’s about the person.
If you had to choose between fame and fortune, either everyone knows who you are but you are struggling, or you are wealthy but you get no recognition for your work, which would you choose?
Oh geez! Here’s the thing, I don’t want to be “famous” at all. I quite like my privacy and anonymity. However I do recognize that I have great hopes of influencing the world in a positive way and inspiring others to be more joyful and humanitarian. I really want people to love themselves and each other more! So I can see the power in being recognized and “famous” if you will.
I’ve already experienced some amazingly positive feedback from fans of mine that melts my heart and shows me that there is a lot of power in profession I’ve chosen. But if I could influence and still remain quite private, that would be ideal. And I think money is great! It gives you more options, but it’s not what drives me to do what I do.
When you wake up in the morning, what are some of your first thoughts?
I’m one of those annoying people that springs out of bed (I told you, songbirds). Sometimes I want to stay in the wrapper a little longer but usually I’m like “Up and at em, go go go, let’s do this! Holy shit it’s sunny, yay!” I love brushing my teeth and staring out over the ocean, I literally say to myself every day “This is where I live!!!”
Acting is one of those occupations where you can either work at it and never get to “where you want to be” or all of a sudden make it big… does that make you nervous and how do you coach yourself not to give up? And secondly, where is it that you want to be when you picture your future?
Oh acting is a brilliant career choice if you want to challenge all your shit around security, being liked by others, facing rejection, and having NO guarantees. I think that’s part of the drive for me is that it really has taught me that I have to learn to love myself and be solid within, because I can’t get it from out there. It’s a constant struggle but the personal development work has helped a lot with that.
As far as future goes, I have a picture of myself sitting in the sun on a picnic blanket with my family, kids are playing, we’re laughing and of course there is cheese. Then the creative team for a show I’m a creative producer and actor in shows up and we have a work sesh/meeting outside together. I have the kind of life where I get to work on projects that mean something to me and are doing amazing things in the world, and I also take time off to chill and connect with my loved ones. Ultimately I am present in everything I do.