Don’t get resigned, skeptical, judgemental, or hopeless. — Perhaps easier said than done, I know. If you are noticing this is happening, it’s ok, you’re human. Just know, it’s not the truth, and it’s not reality. If you’re feeling hopeless, it doesn’t mean there’s reason to be hopeless and you should throw in the towel. We all go through spaces of ups and downs, fears and unknowns. It’s normal. It’s ok. Keep going.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in theatre, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Catherine Waller.

Catherine Waller is an award winning actress and creator. Her solo show The Creeps has won awards internationally; (Best Female Performer Hollywood Fringe, Best of Amsterdam Fringe, Best Interactive Show, Best Physical Theater United Solo Festival.) She’s worked with directors including Eric Stoltz (Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk), Janicza Bravo (Netflix’s LOVE), and her role Amber on Hounds (Best Comedy Series NZTV Awards; “The Best Kiwi Comedy Ever Made”, NZ Herald) premiered in the US on Netflix and garnered the Best Newcomer nomination (TV Guide’s Best on the Box Awards.)

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

So glad to be here! I grew up in New Zealand with American parents. I am the youngest of 3 girls. We had a really happy and adventure-filled childhood. I remember always being around friends and family, going to the beach, having family barbecues, and my Mother enrolled me in dance class when I was really young. This is where I discovered my love for performing.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As I mentioned, I grew up dancing. One day, when I was 10, I was sleeping over at my friends house and we were playing video games on Saturday morning. Out of the blue my Mum called and said that my tap dancing teacher at the time (who was also a casting director for commercials), had called saying she thought I would be good for this commercial. I was very excited! I went in not knowing anything about auditioning except Linda (my teacher) told me what the lines were. I did the audition and got the part! From there I got an agent and started to act in more commercials, then local and international television programs.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

So many people have supported me along the way. I have a lot to thank for my teachers and tutors who helped develop me and my craft. My movement teacher at my conservatory in New Zealand, Tom McCory, was one of them. His philosophy and many tools I learnt at school (clown work, mask work, physical theater training) had a direct impact on the kind of work I get to create every day, and who I am as an actor and theater maker.

You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Something very unique happened to me when I was 16. I was in a local TV series and my character was a teenager who was discovering her sexuality. This is at a time when being queer and a member of the LBGTQ+ community was not as accepting or open as it is today. My character ends up kissing another female character. The day that we shot that scene was a day I’ll never forget. When the Director called “cut” I remember feeling amazed because I realized at that moment I liked women. It took a few years for me to really discover more about my identity, and now I proudly identify as a gay woman. I like to say it was Life Imitating Art!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is a little embarrassing! I’ve always had ambition and a big dream of performing in this industry on a global scale. After graduating from my conservatory (NZ National Drama School) I moved to Los Angeles. I guess I just had an idea in my head that it was going to be “easy”, and (truth be told), Hollywood would discover me. Well, life had a different journey for me (which I’m grateful for now). I learnt a lot about myself as a creator. And I learnt that I could keep carving out the opportunities that were important to me. Over the course of the past 10 years I’ve developed the skill set and community around me to keep achieving what I’m out to accomplish. Not just as an actor, but also as a Director, Writer and Producer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My solo show “The Creeps” Off-Broadway at Playhouse 46 Sept 1-Nov 5!! I’m so excited. This is a dream come true. We’re also planning a UK season.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of rejection, lack of support, or failure?

Such a great question. Look, I know it can be daunting, especially when there’s not necessarily a clear path to success in front of you. My advice is if you have an unwavering commitment to something, don’t take “no” for an answer. Every so often over the past 10 years I would stop and ask myself, is there anything else I want to be doing with my life? The answer was always No. I didn’t want to live a life that was inauthentic. I wanted to achieve what I had always been fiercely committed to. My advice is to keep creating a vision for your life in these instances. And know it’s ok to feel challenged. Also, reach out to someone you admire in your work and ask for 20 minutes of their time to ask their advice. This is a great way to find out what other people did, and to make new connections on levels where you want to be operating. And, if you’re so inclined, start creating your own work.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the live performance industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

This is something I’m in the midst of learning myself. I have a trainer/Movement Specialist (@aaron.jessee) who has a unique practice of evaluating your body and movement patterns to address any underlying pain/discomfort. I’ve had him design a program for me for the upcoming season. I also like my sleep and I like to work out, I love time with my wife and going out to eat. So my tips would be to find a daily structure that works for you, and try to listen to your body to give it what it needs; Eat well, rest, go for walks, take time for yourself and/or time with loved ones, whatever works for you.

Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in Broadway, Theater or Live Performances” and why?

  1. Train. — I’ve always been amazed and inspired by the level of Mastery in this field. It’s similar to watching Mastery in the sports arena. So I like to think of myself in this career, similarly. Like I’ve mentioned already — find structures, programs or classes that allow you to train and develop your craft so you’re ready to perform at this level. Keep developing your skills and instrument.
  2. Find other people who have done what you want to do, and talk to them. — Either by getting their advice, or, if you have a project you want to produce. If you’ve done the project before, get feedback on it, invite people to write a testimonial for you. This can support the projects/your credibility when you’re talking to others or building your team.
  3. Perform in Fringe Festivals. — I started out performing The Creeps at my local Fringe Festivals. It’s a great way to automatically find an audience, because people are usually looking for things to see at Fringe! I was able to get great reviews and even win awards. It was because of this that I actually discovered the show was impactful! From here, I toured it to the Edinburgh, Camden and Amsterdam Fringe, and again I had reviews to support me the next time I wanted to perform it.
  4. Articulate what is important to you, and what YOUR idea of success in this area is. Write it down, meditate on it, take actions towards achieving that vision. -You don’t have to worry if you don’t have the “perfect” or clear vision yet. It can be a process to define it, and it can even change and grow. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with it.
  5. Don’t get resigned, skeptical, judgemental, or hopeless. — Perhaps easier said than done, I know. If you are noticing this is happening, it’s ok, you’re human. Just know, it’s not the truth, and it’s not reality. If you’re feeling hopeless, it doesn’t mean there’s reason to be hopeless and you should throw in the towel. We all go through spaces of ups and downs, fears and unknowns. It’s normal. It’s ok. Keep going.

For the benefit of our readers, could you describe how the skill-sets you need in a theater performance are different than the skill-sets you need for TV or Film?

I actually think there are many more similarities in the skill set required, rather than differences. I’ve struggled in the past thinking I couldn’t be “big” and expressive on screen, and when I’d try dialing it down, I’d feel stuck in my head, trying to “get it right”, which was not fun or effective. I think it’s more helpful to know if the beats of the scene are being noticed by the camera, which an actor can do with rhythm and physicality rather than trying to keep still (like I used to do). I’m a very physical performer, so I’ve now allowed that to come through on screen. I’ve not mentioned other skills including script analysis, voice, characterization. I also think there are many ways “in” to a performance and sometimes its about discovering what works for you.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think the most important thing we can do for the chance to understand just how alike we are as human beings, is to practice stepping outside of our immediate judgements and opinions about someone or something, and venture to understand what the world is like for someone else. I try to do this in my work — which is giving people the benefit of the doubt and knowing I don’t know all the nuances of their lives or story, or even what has happened in their day. It allows me to experience great compassion, connection, and empathy to others — It’s awesome.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You never know what someone is going through. Be kind.” — Similar to what I said before. You never know what someone else is experiencing. If I can choose to be any way, why wouldn’t I be kind?

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I can think of a handful! I would have to say Darren Aronofsky (Director of Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, The Whale). His work has been an enormous inspiration to me. Hi Darren! Let’s get coffee — I think you’ll really like The Creeps.

How can our readers continue to follow your work online?

Follow me and my show on Instagram @catherinewallerofficial, @thecreepshow and get tickets for the show at!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you for having me!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.