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Livi Birch: “Every audition is a win”

Every audition is a win. If you don’t book a job even after a callback and great feedback try not to get down. You made it SO far which means you did the best you could, and even if you didn’t book that job you made an impression on the Director, Producers, Casting etc. Have […]

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Every audition is a win. If you don’t book a job even after a callback and great feedback try not to get down. You made it SO far which means you did the best you could, and even if you didn’t book that job you made an impression on the Director, Producers, Casting etc. Have faith that another job which is right for you will come along when the time is right. I had a callback for a major movie, and they flew my Mum and me to New York to meet with the Director. At the end, he called my Mum in and was talking about things that really got my hopes up. It was a really big movie and it was for the lead. It took two months to find out I hadn’t booked it. You hear you are ’still one of the top picks’ and of course you have hope — and then you hear they have offered it to somebody else. Of course, you are sad, but now looking back I know it was the right thing that I didn’t book that job, and I landed a dream role in something else.


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing eleven-year-old Atlanta native Livi Birch who plays Tulsa in the award-winning movie “Tulsa,” which was released nationwide August 21, 2020.

Livi Birch plays the lead role of Tulsa alongside Scott Pryor who also co-directed and wrote the story. The movie — which also stars John Schneider, Cameron Arnett and Nicole Marie Johnson — is based on a true story about a desperate marine biker (Scott) whose life is turned upside-down when he is united with the sassy nine-year-old daughter (Livi) he never knew existed.

Livi has been in three other films: “Redeeming Love” (releasing in theatres in Spring 2021), “Front Row Killer” and “The Farmer and the Belle.” Livi also has a small part in an episode of Lovecraft Country by JJ Abrams.

Livi writes her own songs on both ukulele and guitar. She has licensed two songs to movies: “Tulsa’s Song” which she wrote for Tulsa, and “LA” which was licensed by Front Row Killer. Livi is working with Mama Jan of Jan Smith studios on her other songs.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Livi! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

My parents are English and moved to the United States about 16 years ago for my Dad’s work. My brothers and I were all born in Atlanta so I actually have dual citizenship which is super cool. I grew up living just off the main street in Little Five Points, Atlanta and we would use all the walking paths to go to all the play parks and would refuel at King of Pops and Flying Biscuits (best and biggest muffins ever). I went to a local church preschool and tried ballet (lasted only one session), gymnastics (was not a fan of the beam) and ended up doing a hiphop camp. My teacher said to my Mom ‘forget gymnastics — this is her thing’. When we moved across town, I changed schools and got to play the farmer’s wife in the Farmer and his Wife nursery rhyme. I was five and loved it, but I loved music too and started asking my Mom if I could have guitar lessons. She said no. I didn’t give up. When I turned six, we borrowed a friend’s guitar, and I started weekly lessons. I was hooked! The first song I learned was Set it All Free from the movie Sing, and I played it to a packed local bar as part of a different kind of recital! I remember I had a really bad cold and I was a little nervous, but when I started playing with the band I was just super happy. I think that’s when I, and my parents, started to realize I liked performing.

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

When I was seven, my friend wanted me to do a musical theatre camp with them, and I LOVED it. I stayed there for just over a year and was so excited because they were doing a production of Cinderella. Of course, I really wanted to be Cinderella, but I was the Town Crier. So I wrote a song called ‘So Say Hey’ which is about how you don’t always get what you want in life. After I performed that song at my music club’s “unrecital,” people were coming up to my parents and asking them “Who’s she with?” and “Who’s her agent?” My mom took some headshots, and we sent out my resume to some Atlanta agents. We were super lucky when Jacob Lawson and Corey Lawson at Privilege Talent took a gamble on me.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your entertainment career?

I think it would definitely have to be going to Cape Town, South Africa for a month in January of this year to film Redeeming Love. We went via Washington to get my work permit, so I also got to go around some of the museums which was a really cool way to learn about civil rights — a topic we were studying at school at the time. I scored 100/100 on my civil rights test at the end of the school year, so I guess learning about it as I traveled around the world helped! South Africa was amazing and it is funny because I had an image of it being all savannahs but Cape Town is beautiful with cliffs going right into the sea, which was chilly, beautiful beaches and of course the wildlife. We got to swim with penguins in the sea who are part of a successful conservation program. I also visited Cheetah Outreach which is an educational conservation charity. As I was the only child on set, I started up a swear jar for all the adults to donate to when they swore in front of me. Working with the cast and crew was incredible, and everyone was really kind and helpful.

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?

When we heard back from Jacob and Corey Lawson at Privilege Talent, they asked my Mom to send in videos of me performing. Then they asked us to record some sides and send those in. My Mom and I didn’t even know what sides were, but we got some and rehearsed to my Mom’s iPhone looking right AT the camera. We thought we had done a really good job until we went to record at a taping place — and found out that you don’t look at the camera! I learned to always ask questions if you have never done something before — it’s always best to double-check!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Who do you think that might help people?

I have one film which is due to shoot in September, but I’m only on set a couple of days. I am using this time to focus on finishing off and fine-tuning my original songs. I have written nine songs on both the ukulele and guitar and have been lucky enough to record two: Tulsa’s Song for Tulsa Movie and LA for the movie, His Killer Fan. I’d love to record a couple more. One of my songs, Crazy World, is about how crazy life has been this year with COVID. I hope when people listen to it they feel reassured not to give up and also to be thankful for what is good in their lives. Actually, a lot of my songs are about trying to look on the bright side of life and appreciating that even when things happen that we don’t understand and make us feel unhappy or sad — often, in the end, we are a better person from going through that experience. My family believes that things happen for a reason and to follow your journey with your eyes and heart wide open. Don’t lose hope!

Most young people your age don’t have to balance work and school. Can you tell us how you manage to balance your schoolwork, auditions, and time on set?

It can be a real tricky balance. Whether I am super busy at home with auditions and school or away on set, like when I was in South Africa for a month shooting Redeeming Love, I have to make sure I stay on top of things so that I get enough time to be a ’normal kid’. I’m not going to lie… there have been some times where I don’t stop ’til I go to bed and wake up early to go over sides again, but I know that there will be quiet time — and so I try to be grateful for the auditions and work that come my way. On set, it is different as really your time is mapped out for you; how many hours of school I have to do with the set tutor per day, etc. In a way, it is almost easier on set because it is so structured. When I am at home and fitting in auditions, callbacks and music lessons, it is a juggling game but luckily for me my Mom is really organized. If I can’t see friends in person to hang out, like with COVID, then we jump on a call while we are having lunch. If there is a time difference, then we sometimes send video messages. It’s not the same as normal life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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?

I think the main people I need to thank are my agents, Jacob Lawson and Corey Lawson of Privilege Talent who took a chance on me when I had no reel and no film or tv/film acting experience. I also wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of my family. My Mom runs everything, my Dad works super hard so my Mom can be with me, and my two brothers are amazingly supportive. My big brother, Luke, really looks after my little brother a lot, and my little brother gives the best hugs ever!

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s jump to the main part of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

“Do your best forget the rest” — It is so hard at the start when you do loads of auditions but don’t hear back. The sooner you can really follow through on that quote the easier this process will be for you. I didn’t expect to really hear back from any of my first auditions as I had no idea if what I was doing was right but it was and still can be super hard to not think about IF you might hear back. My Mom and I decided that the best way was to just acknowledge it is ok to wonder, and we often laugh about it when you think a decision hasn’t been made….. will I hear, won’t I hear but at the end of the day what will be will be, and it is out of your control, so just try and enjoy the ride!

Try not to take things personally. Do what is right for you. You will be offered lots of advice and feedback all by people who mean well. It can be confusing and even overwhelming. Remember to stay true to you and your family’s values. Don’t feel pressured to do anything or worried to do something because it doesn’t align with someone else’s opinions. It is perfectly fine to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’. I was in the running for a great part in a very different movie a few months ago. I was super excited about it, but it was different from anything else I had done so my Mom and I were nervous if it would be the right move. For every person that said ‘yes you have to go for this’, we also heard ‘no you should never do this, this isn’t right for Livi.’ Now a few months down the line, and I didn’t get that part, so clearly I wasn’t meant to. But I also know that if, in future, I feel as excited about a project as I was about that one, then it’s ok with me!

Every audition is a win. If you don’t book a job even after a callback and great feedback try not to get down. You made it SO far which means you did the best you could, and even if you didn’t book that job you made an impression on the Director, Producers, Casting etc. Have faith that another job which is right for you will come along when the time is right. I had a callback for a major movie, and they flew my Mum and me to New York to meet with the Director. At the end, he called my Mum in and was talking about things that really got my hopes up. It was a really big movie and it was for the lead. It took two months to find out I hadn’t booked it. You hear you are ’still one of the top picks’ and of course you have hope — and then you hear they have offered it to somebody else. Of course, you are sad, but now looking back I know it was the right thing that I didn’t book that job, and I landed a dream role in something else.

Be prepared and be early to auditions/set. When you book a job, be completely prepared, and then you can just enjoy the project when you are on set. When I booked Tulsa, I played Tulsa the lead actress in the movie, I actually learned the entire script before we started filming. I just took several scenes a day and memorized them. That way, I never had to worry if the schedule changed while filming, and I even played a game with the Scripty — when people couldn’t remember their lines, I would try and beat him to prompt them! Always be on time or early to set! Only one time we were driving to set and we hit major roadworks, and it was so stressful. We still arrived on time but it can be tricky to find out where to park and where to report, so giving yourself as much extra time as you need so you can just enjoy everything is so important.

Do what makes you happy. Remember to pick classes that work for YOU! Not every acting, singing class or workshop will necessarily be the right fit for you. It is really important to work with people who you love working with and who let you be you. You don’t have to do the most-talked-about class in town, just do the one that you feel helps you the most and is fun too. Every actor/teacher will have their own spin on how to coach, and it is so important to find the tricks that work for you. I did musical theater to start with, but for various reasons, I wasn’t truly happy. Thankfully my Mom and I listened to our gut and moved on even though at the time we weren’t sure if it was the right move. If you aren’t happy, then move on and try something or someplace new. It is important to have people who support you and share your passion, so you can do the same for them.

Celebrate every audition, stay humble and be happy for your friends when they are successful I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to be getting auditions so quickly. I think it is important to recognize how hard it is to get an audition and celebrate that fact, then do your best and no matter the outcome, remember you were one of many to submit for the part. If you book it, you might want to yell from the rooftops, but there is a time and a place (probably in your own home). To book a job takes hard work but also luck and being in the right place at the right time and fitting in with the rest of the cast also plays a part. I have a friend who helped me out from the very beginning, and we have been up for the same parts, which I have then booked. I look up to her so much as she has always been supportive of me and kind, and I know that has to be hard at times. As kids we are learning we don’t all win every time in this industry, and that is a life long lesson.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

This is something we ALWAYS say at home and so we say it on set too. Whether you are talking to another member of the cast or a member of the crew, always treat them with respect. It’s nice when someone acknowledges you, or gives you a smile, so be the person to give those things too. On my very first tv show, I met someone who is now an amazing friend and mentor really. At the end of the day on set, she put a note in my bag which was congratulating me on my first job and also told me to thank my Mom for all she did to get me on set. It meant so much to me and my Mom. I always want to be just like that, so if I see an extra who is hanging around, especially if they are a kid, then I want to give them a hug or thumbs up or thank you too. Hopefully it will make them happy too.

You are a person of enormous influence. How do you think you can use social media as a platform to be a positive influence to your fans, and for society at large?

I would like my followers to know they are good enough as themselves. I think everyone should try to be true to themselves, as that is what makes them different and unique. Sometimes it is hard as we all naturally compare ourselves to others, but being able to be content with what we have in life, while having big goals, I think can help us stay positive and happy.

From the projects I have worked on, in particular Redeeming Love, which deals with the issue of human trafficking, I am working to find an organization I feel aligned with so I can use my voice to share that this is still a huge problem in the world. In fact, where I live (Atlanta) is a huge trafficking hub, and I would like to do what I can to help highlight the need to do what we can to stop this and make people understand what they can do to help.

If you had the ability to choose to work on any TV show or film, or work alongside any co-star, or with any director, what or who would that be, and why? You never know who might see this article, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Well, that is super easy, I love Zendaya. I saw her first on the Greatest Showman, and then I watched all her Disney shows, so it would be a dream come true to work with her. I also love Jamie Foxx — I can’t tell you how many times I have watched him in Annie. I’d love to do a show or movie where you get to sing too, although I guess I have already done that, but maybe where that was the actual theme of the project. I’m also obsessed with Danger Force on Nickelodeon, so to be on that show would be a dream come true.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8ZrbTViZQwXqYqjHRAEBcw/featured
https://www.instagram.com/livibofficial
https://www.facebook.com/livi.birch.35

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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