Y&T Alumni Liyah Summers is currently starring in David Edgars’s Maydays as part of the RSC Mischief season. Ahead of tomorrow night’s opening night Y&T sat down to ask some questions about Liyah’s career path.
Liyah decided at the age of 12 that she wanted to be an actor after performing in a school production. “I had the best time and I remember thinking , this could be cool to do full time.”
Liyah took part in a summer programme with Y&T when she was 14. It confirmed “that I wanted to be a performer. I sang in front of an audience for the first time…I had a new lease of confidence and excitement about the world of performing. From this I then done a year at Y&T, doing singing, dancing and acting classes weekly.”
She has fond memories of her time at Y&T. ‘What I remember most is the supportive environment. Everyone around you, be it tutors or peers, was so encouraging. Confidence, self belief and stepping out of your comfort zone was massively encouraged. We were given the perfect balance and compliments and criticism. I think it helped me on my path. It taught me to push myself and it taught it me the art of being professional. The first things I learnt about the business side of things ie. networking and agents was when I was part of the Y&T Rep Company. I think Y&T played a major part in helping me on my path, and I’m always grateful for that.” Thanks Liyah, we think your fantastic.
Liyah graduated from Bristol Old Vic this summer after an intense and enjoyable three years, feeling equipped for the industry. Her favourite role was playing Dorthy in The Wizard of OZ end of year grad show. We asked her what her advice would be for aspiring actors wanting to go to drama school, “If you’re applying for drama school, my advice would be, remember your auditioning the school too. You’re going to be at the school for about 50 hours a week, for 2 or 3 years! So make sure you’re auditioning for the schools that give you a good vibe. My advice would also be not to forget about self-care. The auditioning process can be stressful and there’s a lot of hard work to do, so don’t forget to take time to rest, unwind and do the things that make you feel good to help keep your energy and spirits up!”
On her experience with the RSC Liyah has enjoyed working with experienced, kind and professional creatives. Researching the subject and context of the play is one of her favourite things to do as a performer. She says, “I’m enjoying doing a play which is about something I knew little about, because it’s meant I’ve learnt so much about politics and history and human behaviour. It’s been enlightening… I’ve enjoyed having to work my brain and research things.”
In terms of her biggest challenges as an actor, Liyah says it is” having to be an activist, and fight for change. Being a black woman, I often have to speak up regarding diversity, gender equality, sexism and racism in the industry and it can be challenging,and tiring finding the energy and confidence to do it, but I think it’s important, and it’s also rewarding when you see changes happen because you spoke up, so it’s a good challenge to have to face.’ We think this is amazing Liyah and we are behind you in speaking up 100 percent.
After ‘Maydays Liyah is doing shows over Christmas at The Cheltenham Everyman Theatre with Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company. She will be performing in The Velveteen Rabbit and The Old Curiosity Shop. On her upcoming roles Liyah has been cast as an actor-musician,’I’m not very good at the ukulele so that should be fun.’ We know you will be great.
Y&T is proud of Liyah and all her achievements. We cannot wait to see what she does next. Maydays is on until October 20th in Stratford Upon Avon in The Other Space.