NIDA Women – Lyn Lee

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we sat down with NIDA Corporate Course Manager & Training Consultant and 1965 Acting graduate, Lyn Lee, to discuss what the day means to her and how she is helping our students find their artistic voice.

You can view more NIDA Women interviews here.


Lyn Lee:

Some of the challenges that I faced were family disapproval. Very, very, strong family disapproval. People in the family saying ‘when are you going to stop playing games?’ ‘When are you going to get a job?’ and I actually had someone say to me you, won’t believe it I’m sure, but someone say ‘only prostitutes act’.

Well I first came to NIDA as a student a lot of years ago and, and that journey was very interesting because I needed a lot of courage to come against family background, but subsequently into this role I taught in the NIDA Open program for about 14 or 15 years as a casual teacher and then came maybe eight years ago, eight or nine years ago, as a full time employee as the Course Manager and Training Consultant in NIDA Corporate.

International Women’s Day is a reason to celebrate. I think too often we look at the downside that women are perhaps not getting as far as they should but in my lifetime women have come a long way. So I see it as a day to applaud how far we’ve come without losing sight of the fact that many people in other countries and other cultures do not have it as good as we have it here in Australia.

I’m inspired by the young writers, the work that they bring to the table I’m inspired by people like Judi Dench, Margaret Olley, people that, that just go on acting. You know, both those women worked until they’re, well Judi Dench still working in her eighties; Margaret Olley, and I’m inspired by a lot of the students here, because I teach a lot of the students here and I’m inspired by the stunning, what I go ‘wow.’

Some of the advice I’d give young actors would be never to lose the dream, to hang on to their self belief because frequently you’re battered, and I don’t mean physically battered but you get rejection, you don’t get the role and when I was young I often thought ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough.’ Maybe I wasn’t good enough, but maybe it was just that they wanted somebody tall or they wanted somebody blonde or they wanted somebody short or that, do you know. So frequently you don’t get the role because it’s logical that not all people are right for all roles. It took me a long time to learn that.

I think there are two ways that I probably assist, help young actors achieve their goals. NIDA is funded partly by the Government, but the Venues department the Open program and my department, the Corporate department, bring in income in to NIDA, which helps these young actors, young prop makers, young staging students, young designers, young writers, helps them to be able to have this wonderful institution with an enormous amount of personal attention.

I’m privileged to teach the writers, the directors, the designers, the staging students, the prop makers, I’m privileged to teach them presentation and communication skills. Many of them think their work should just speak for itself but that’s not the way it happens out there, they have to present themselves, they have to encourage people to look at their work, to read their play, to look at the designs, to use their props, and that requires them being able to say, ‘hello I’m here, come and have a look at my work.’