Over her approximately 12 years in Squamish, Amy Reid has become a staple of the community—many would say a sparkling staple.
Whether you have seen her in a play, been taught by her, co-starred with her, been directed by her, helped by her, know her kids, worked with her, or seen her on the screen in various shows—most famously in the Netflix hit drama Maid—she has likely touched your life in some way.
But Reid is planning her last local curtain call for this June as she bids farewell to Squamish.
The Squamish Chief sat down with Reid—who had just finished auditioning for a part as a quirky coroner—amongst the plants at Wonderlands Emporium for a chat about why it is (almost) time to leave, what she will miss, and advice for those who want to follow in her acting footsteps.
What follows is a version of that conversation edited for length and clarity.
Let’s start with why you moved to Squamish.
I was living in Indonesia at the time. I had young kids, and my son was going into kindergarten. I realized that it wasn't really a great place to put him in kindergarten—he had to take a speedboat, and then a taxi ride through the jungle to get to school.
My friend had moved here and was like, “You should come to Squamish!”
I spent my childhood in North Vancouver. Like a lot of people in those days, I thought of Squamish as a place on the way to somewhere else.
We landed here in 2011, the day before my son started elementary school. It looks like we will be leaving about the day after he graduates high school.
I made a commitment that I was going to stay in one place and let my kids have a stable childhood because I was used to just flitting around and moving around so much.
I've never lived anywhere as long as I've been in Squamish.
So what is the impetus to move?
It's two-sided; one was I was getting really frustrated with feeling like arts in this community was a bit like pulling a donkey through life. I have been feeling like it was always an uphill battle.
Like, how many meetings are we going to have talking about what we need in terms of space or theatres in the community? It just never goes anywhere.
And then I found out that my landlord wants his place back. When I looked at the rental market and what it's going to cost me to live somewhere else comparable—I live in a three-bedroom, top-floor suite in Valleycliffe—that's going to be about $3,700.
People have come to me and said maybe there's this place or that place, but you are just always living with this pit in your stomach—this fear of having to move again.
It takes a toll on you because you are always thinking any minute the carpet could be pulled out from under you. It's crazy. It's not sustainable.
And then, my kids are growing up, and they're going to be out of school. And so it's time to also start thinking, “What do I want?” If I ask myself that honestly, it's that I want to be working not just in film, but in professional theatre. And that opportunity just isn't here.
So all this, this is my life telling me it's time. It's all lighting up and it's time to look to another community.
You are moving to Ontario. Tell me about that.
It's Prince Edward County. I didn't want to live in a city, but if I want to be able to continue doing film, I have to be close to a film city. If you get cast, you need to be able to reasonably commute into wardrobe fittings or whatever it is that you need to do.
Prince Edward County is two hours from Toronto, two hours from Montreal, two hours from Ottawa. You're right in the centre of the three. I could reasonably audition for productions in all three of those. And then it has this thriving art scene in that area. And then to top it all off, I found a school in that area that's a dedicated art school, like a Fame school that you have to audition to get into, for my daughter.
She's an artistic kid. She's a very talented actor, and she's living in a community that prioritizes athletics. And not that there's anything wrong with that priority, but you'll always feel a bit like a fish out of water.
And the rents are reasonable there; for what I pay on my one-level floor here, I could get a full house, even on the waterfront.
It sounds perfect and exciting.
It's really exciting. But, I swing between being really excited and then wanting to vomit. Theoretically, it's going to be a great move for me, but at the same time, I've never lived anywhere as long as I've lived here. And the ties that I have to this community are really strong and I love that. I love that I know the lady who works at Nesters. And I love that everywhere I go, I run into people. I feel like people really root for each other here. When you see somebody who's in any field, you'll see a sign up in front of Sunny Chibas cheering them on. I like that the whole town kind of roots for each other. When I've had my successes, I'll have people coming up and being like, “I saw you. That was great.”
I'll miss that. It'll take a long time to be able to build the kind of community that I have here. And I don't know if I'll even be as successful at it, because a lot of that was having my two kids who were raised in this community.
So let's stay there a little bit. What are some of your highlights since you moved here?
Definitely Between Shifts Theatre Society. That is going to be the hardest.
And I worry most about The Studio [the Theatre Mentorship Program]. I work with a lot of kids, and that was something that I put in with Kathy Daniels. Some of those kids I've worked with since they were six years old and they're teenagers now. That's a big highlight for sure.
And, obviously, the beauty of Squamish. I walk every morning with my dog and I think, am I crazy? I'm walking on the dike in the most stunning, gorgeous environment to live in. That's going to be tough to leave, for sure.
You talk about the challenge of being in the arts here. What could Squamish have done or not done so you would stay?
I don't think it's anything Squamish could have done or not done. I think at the end of the day, it's not the focus of most people who live here. It just isn't. And that doesn't make them bad people—that's just not where their passions lie. Their passions lie on the mountain. And I want to live in a community that loves arts the same way that this community loves bicycles.
What is your advice for young wannabe actors?
Just to do everything. Don't say no to anything. Do community theatre, do spoken word at the cafe; write something even if you don't think you're a writer. Just keep doing things because, if nothing else, you're living in the place in life of what you love and that's always going to make you healthier and happier. And that's always what's going to move you forward.
You're definitely not going to move forward if you're not doing anything.
What about parting words for Squamish? So many people are really going to miss you.
I get a bit verklempt even thinking about it.
I'm going to be watching and cheering Squamish in the same way I feel Squamish has always cheered me on. It will always be near and dear to me.
Reid continues working on her Smoking Gun Supper Club (soon to change its name to Redrum Mysteries with the same link), which hosts interactive murder mystery dinner theatre events, and is hoping to have that going in both Squamish and back east.
And in the meantime, she will be here until June.