When Thea Gill called me from her oasis in the mountains, the connection was a little shaky, but she was certainly not. The Canadian-born actress best known for her role on the Showtime series Queer As Folk was down-to-earth, gracious, full of energy (regardless of the fact that she was fighting a cold) and extremely welcoming. It was an absolute joy to spend a little bit of time with the iconic personalityeven if our conversation was paused in order to redial a few times.
Gill's steadfast commitment to her craft is taking a new musical turn that has her reliving her roots in the theatre. At one point in our conversation, we discussed how the monumental success of Queer As Folk both helped and hindered the 5'8" blonde beauty's career and personal life. With time, distance, spiritual inflection, and patience Gill has once again found her voice. Here, she talks about her new movie, Slip Away, and much more.
Windy City Times: Lovely to talk with you, Thea! How did the project of Slip Away come to your attention?
Thea Gill: You know, it was offered to me and I'd been a friend of Michelle Bonilla's for a couple of years now. We've always had such a lovely interaction with each other. She's such a great ladyhighly intelligent, self-motivated and creative. I've always wanted to work with her on something. My part is a small one in the film, but I wanted to be a part of the ensemble. It was very intriguing to me. I was able to have the chance to get up close and personal to Michelle and it was such a treat.
WCT: How was it working with Wilson Cruz?
Thea Gill: He's great! He's such an enthusiastic actor. Every time he's working he's talking and discussing the art of acting. He's an actor who wants to learn more about the art of acting. Also, he's an actor who loves to learn from other actors. A lot of the time we were just hanging out and talking about the film and the subject of Slip Away and our personal stories and intentions. He was such a team player and made everyone feel safe in the environment and in the ensemble to share their personal stories. I loved working with Wilson. He's just a great personality and one of those gentlemen that you know is going to be a good friend. He is very consistent and loyal to his fellow peers and co-workers.
Hal [Sparks] was also in the film and he is always full of energy. He's fun to have on the team. You know, I only had one day on the set so I spent a little bit of time with everyone. That one day I was on the set, though, I had such a fulfilling time. Even though I had such a small part in the film, Michelle never made me feel unimportant or that my part was actually small.
WCT: You mentioned Hal and it was a bit of a reunion for you to work together being that you last shared the screen on Queer As Folk. What was it like working with the hilarious actor/comedian again?
Thea Gill: It was great to work with him again. He's never stopped being Hal! He probably never will! It felt like being back on the set of Queer As Folk at Babylon or something! It was like that when we were on the set together on Slip Away. He's a joker and keeps the set light. I consider him a great pal.
He's just one of those guys where if you ever needed to borrow $100, he'd be there. He's such a dependable and loyal guy. He's a good friend. You know, Hal's an actor, but he really is a stand-up comedian. Sometimes when you're working with him on the set you wonder if he's working as an actor or comedian that day. You know that when you get to work with him, he makes it easy breezy time. He wears different hats and that is what keeps him fresh. I admire him for that.
WCT: Speaking of wearing different hats, you sing as well as act. There is a musical in the works, I hear.
Thea Gill: I'm venturing into song and live stage. I did perform in A Streetcar Named Desire. I played "Blanche" a few months ago and it really whet my appetite for stage performance again. I hadn't been onstage for a few years. I am developing a musical with the great Gail Deadrick and just came out of my first rehearsal with her today. This lady really knows how to twinkle the ivories. She is an exquisite artist. She's worked with Gladys Knight and The Pointer Sisters. I am very excited and lucky to be working my voice with her and discovering sound and musicality with her. My business partner Gina Glass and I are working on this project via our new production company Wonky Girl Productions.
WCT: You are also working on a new film starring Cathy DeBuono (We Have to Stop Now) under Wonky Girl Productions, too, correct?
Thea Gill: Yes, it is called Spitfire and it's based on Gina Glass' novel. It made the top 100 on Amazon and is a beautiful lesbian love story.
WCT: You are in L.A. on a more permanent basis now. What is your main focus at this time?
Thea Gill: I am focusing on my singing at the moment and really trying to spread my wings. It's something that actually helps my acting and it's the key to a lot of freedom that I think I was missing in my artistic life. I am so happy that I have sort of discovered another way to express my art and my different ways of doing art. I always found that even before I started working in television and film, I'd always dabbled in music as more of a hobby.
I sang on a Caribbean cruise in the late 1990s and then I stopped. I lost my voice there for awhile. It wasn't just my singing voice, but also my personal voice. I think that I was frightened because I was expected to talk. I think I needed to sing in order to be able to talk again. I know that sounds strange. Singing opens my voice to confidence when I talk, if you know what I mean. … I am not going to hold back now. I am not going to be hesitant when I speak. I owe that to finding my voice again through singing. I think that had I not re-discovered singing, I could've very easily lost my way in this business.
WCT: When do you feel the loss occurred?
Thea Gill: I think after Queer As Folk ended … there were lots of transitions for me. I moved from Canada to the United States. I went through shifts in my marriage and personal life. I made a wrong turn and I lost my confidence. I think I expected too much for myself. I think that a lot of people were expecting a lot from me and I was not ready yet. I was quite timid and very shy and overcompensated with too much energy.
The singing and music balanced me and sort of calmed and soothed my insecurities. It raised my awareness for myself and opened up doors within me that I didn't even know were inside. That is the power of music. It's healing and elevating on a spiritual level and an intellectual level. Music is maththere's a lot of discipline to music. Even though acting is an art as well, it's a different kind. Being an actor and trying to get work can steal your spirit. I needed to find my resources again spiritually and music helped me do that.
WCT: You know, the people who respect your work will always be there to support you and your ventures.
Thea Gill: That is very nice to hear, thank you. I do wonder sometimes [laughs]…and you never know. You need someone to tell you in order to hear it. There are times when you wonder if the fans are still there or whether or not you've changed too much for them to remember. In a way, you have to fall in order to find the perspective on where the next road is coming from.
WCT: I'm glad you were able to receive that and feel it.
Thea Gill: You're sweet. I so appreciate that!
Find out more about Thea's upcoming film Slip Away at www.slipawaythemovie.com . Follow the actress on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Thea-Gill-Fans/220465924918.