Meet Kate Drummond: elementary school teacher turned actor currently starring in HULU’s Utopia Falls

If you’re considering a career transition and wondering if it’s a little too late — award-winning actor Kate Drummond is living proof that it’s not! As a former elementary school teacher who became an actor later in life, Kate is an advocate for people following their dreams no matter where they are in life. In May 2014, Kate was the keynote speaker at TEDx in Oshawa, Canada where she told her inspiring story of Chasing Dreams and Beginning Again. The presentation which garnered over half a million views has connected her globally with many people who are also on their path to reaching their goals. She can currently be seen starring in HULU’s genre-bending sci-fi series UTOPIA FALLS, a coming of age story following a group of teens in the distant future colony of New Babyl as they uncover an ancient forbidden archive of historical, cultural and musical relics. 

 

My first acting job was… a very small part in a movie called The Kate Logan Affair back in 2005. I was a police officer interrogating Alexis Bledel and I remember exactly when and where I was when I booked the role. I was a school teacher at the time, just starting in acting. I was walking out to my car when my agent called me on my cell phone. He said, “You booked the role!” I started bawling. Our school custodian was standing there and must have thought someone had died. I hung up and said, “Oh my gosh! I booked my first big part!” We both laughed. And cheered. My school colleagues were incredibly supportive of me.

I became an actress because…being a storyteller is what I was designed to be. I believe that. Right from the time I was a kid, I was performing. I was a natural storyteller and uber creative. I used to put on shows for the neighbourhood and organize talent competitions.  I used to stand on my bed and sing the National Anthem to my stuffed animals every night before bed. My parents and teachers didn’t know what to do with all this energy I had, so they put me into sports and my artist just got put on the back burner for a few decades while I competed.  But I think I became an actress at exactly the right time. I had life experience and heart experience to back up my love of storytelling.

My favourite thing about working on Utopia Falls has been… the people. I absolutely fell in love with the entire Utopia Falls family. From hair and makeup to wardrobe to my fellow co-stars to every director and every daily who came in to help…  everyone came together to create this show. We were all so invested in the show and what it stands for. Whenever I went to set, the support was unending. We were all in this together and it felt like a beautiful community. I also loved playing the misfit of the group… the antagonist of the show. Every hero needs a great villain and it was fun to play that role.

My proudest accomplishment is… my TEDx talk. Back in 2014, I did a TEDx talk called Chasing Dreams and Beginning Again.  I worked for months on that talk. I remember writing it and rewriting it so many times, each time getting a little more truthful. I remember reading what I thought was a finished talk to a very close friend. She said, “Kate, I feel like you have just wrapped your life up in a pretty pink bow… you’ve missed talking about the hard parts.”  She was right. I went back to the drawing board and spent another month working on the talk I ended up with. It was my truth. Fully. It was a very surreal experience standing on a stage and revealing my biggest vulnerabilities. But I did it. That is my proudest accomplishment; being able to stand in my truth like that. I never expected that it would go any further than the audience I had that day. Today, it’s reached over 550,000 views and I have connected with people all over the world who relate to me and share their journey with me. It’s incredibly humbling and rewarding and when people share their stories with me, I am equally inspired.

 

“I feel like I truly belong where I am. I feel like I fit this new life. I am excited to direct more, write more and act more.”

 

My boldest move to date was… leaving the security of my teaching job, after 12 years, to move to Toronto to be an actress at the age of 35. 

My biggest setback was… when I lost my dog, Jackson. He was my best friend and family for the better part of 13 years. He was with me through city changes, job changes, everything. He was everything. When I lost him, I fell into a very deep depression for almost a year. I was having a hard time booking work, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The grief was paralyzing.

I overcame it by… moving to my partner’s family ranch in Alberta for 6 months. About 2 weeks after I lost my dog, I packed up his ashes and my partner and I drove across Canada to Alberta. I lived in a bunkhouse in the middle of a pasture for the better part of 6 months. I needed the time to heal and it was the perfect place to do that. It’s really hard to take a break from our lives because of the fear of missing an opportunity, but really, I had no choice. I was struggling and needed the support of my partner, his family and the animals on the ranch. I hadn’t spent much time around horses before that, but I befriended a herd of horses there and spent a lot of my days sitting in the corral with them. They are very intuitive animals. They sensed I was grieving and I relied on them for animal connection. I remember one of the horses got badly injured and required daily care, for hours, to save him. I was assigned the job of taking care of this massive gelding. I was terrified. But it also gave me purpose. As I was grieving the loss of one life, I was saving another. That’s what got me through to the next chapter of my life.

I surprise people when I tell them… that I’m an introvert. People think that because I’m so social and “out there” that I’m an extrovert. Truth be told, I do LOVE people. I love the buzz of being on set and being around those I love. But truly, I need to balance it with a lot of time on my own. I’m an extroverted introvert in a way. I am very sensitive to the energy of others. After a day on set, I always have to manage my energy by taking Epsom salt baths and meditating.

I would encourage aspiring actors to…  never assume you’ve gotten anything figured out. We are changing with every single breath we take, and therefore so is our craft. Study a lot. Support other artists. Train. Be a nice person. Audit classes. Begin again every day. Ask questions. Don’t define yourself by the roles you get. Acting is a responsibility. Don’t take it lightly.  Get out there and volunteer in the community. Whether it’s at a local theatre or a soup kitchen, volunteering keeps things in perspective and also puts you in a position of service. Also… let your love for your art always be bigger than your fear.

When I’m not on set, you can find me…  at home or out walking with my new rescue pup, Zelda, from Mexico. I am a real homebody so my ideal day is sitting by a fireplace, listening to vinyl, and curled up with my family. I also love nature, so I like to spend as much time outdoors as I can.

The person I look up to is… Brooke Shields. We first met when working on the Flower Shop Mysteries a few years ago. We filmed 3 movies together and became instant friends. We still are to this day although I don’t get to see her very often.  Brooke is one of the most graceful human beings I’ve ever met. Her heart is huge and she treated everyone with such incredible respect. She was a beautiful reminder to me of what is right with the industry… famous people with lots of clout, who don’t act like they are above anyone. She truly is a role model for me.

The best advice I’ve been given is…  jump and the net will appear.

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know…  that I had to have my tongue sewn back together when I was a kid because I bit through it… and also that I survived a Tornado.

I stay inspired by… watching the work of other artists whether in movies or on stage. I talk to creative people and share ideas. I find talking out loud about ideas is like lighting a match around a pile of twigs… it just ignites so much fire!

The future excites me because…I feel like I truly belong where I am. I feel like I fit this new life. I am excited to direct more, write more and act more. I’m excited to be connected with so many incredible creatives in the business. I’m excited that there are more and more roles being written for women my age. I’m excited that less and less, I’m trying to make myself be or look different to get a job. I’m excited because the times are changing and voices are being heard.