Ali Liebert drives with a GPS, but on the road to success she follows her heart.
A 27-year-old up-and-coming actress, Liebert moved around a lot as a child and didn’t study acting professionally until she became a student at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, British Columbia. There, an experience Liebert describes simply as “amazing,” one of her teachers told her she might do well in theater and television. Perhaps, as Ali thinks back, it was she who planted the seed.
“As long as I can remember I have loved performing,” Liebert said in a recent interview with Blast. Growing up in a small town near Vancouver, she competed in music and singing festivals and acted in myriads of school plays.
It was her gay uncles, she says, who had a strong influence on her love of performing. Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, and Barbara Streisand: she wanted to be those ladies. Often, her parents could hear her around the house singing “Papa Can You Hear Me?”
Jeff, Ali’s brother, is a talented guitarist, and her Dad dabbles in music as well. Her late mother was once a dancer and model.
“My Mom’s family is very outgoing,” she said. “All of the women are extremely gregarious and funny. Maybe that kind of rubbed off. Maybe I was trying to get attention because everyone was so loud.” As a result, whether it was a backyard barbecue or family room stage, Liebert has always been performing.
After graduating, Ali was approached by an agent who recommended a move to Vancouver. That she did, and she was able to break into the scene while working at a casting agency. During her job as a reader, she went from being a non-working to a working actor. Not only did Liebert learn the ins-and-outs of auditions, she also learned more about human emotion, about someone being there for the part, or maybe just desperately needing to pay rent. “I basically know every actor in Vancouver now, because I read with them,” she laughed.
This appreciation for human emotion has helped catapult Liebert’s career. Four years ago, she played the little boy, Anybody, in Edmonton’s Citadel Theater production of West Side Story — a role that she was so passionate about she cut off all her hair and dyed it from blond to brown.
“I cannot believe I did it!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know if I could do it again. I mean, if it was an amazing role in a story that had to be told, such as Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, I’d have to do it again.”
Lacking neither passion nor dedication, Liebert’s resume continued to blossom even faster than her hair was able to grow back. Following small parts in “The L Word” and “Dead Like Me,” Liebert quickly landed recurring roles on “Whistler,” “Intelligence” and “Kyle XY.”
It was 2008, however, that proved to be Liebert’s breakout year. Having moved to Los Angeles for pilot season, she landed the role of Nikki on CBS’s “Harper’s Island,” a show that, ironically enough, was being filmed in Liebert’s home of British Columbia.
“It was so weird! I lived on Bowen Island for a year and when we would go over there to shoot, with everyone being from all over the country, I’d be like ‘I went to school there.’ It was so beautiful. It was Heaven,” Liebert said
Described as “the biker chick,” Liebert’s character, Nikki, is a very straightforward and tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl. “I can get very rambunctious and sarcastic,” she said, “and Nikki is definitely like that.”
Nikki is the girl from the small town who never left, and Liebert identifies. “I do feel like that small town girl- big heart, high hopes and dreams.”
Liebert recently completed roles in two motion pictures, “The Breakup Artist” and “Year of the Carnivore,” both premiering later this year. She also just wrapped “Hardwired” with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Val Kilmer.
Sylvia, her character in Sook Yin Lee’s “Year of the Carnivore,” is Liebert’s favorite role so far.
“I loved her whole perspective on life. I am kind of a people-pleaser and she’s just not. I like playing characters that are so straight up with people, honest and to the point. I hope to become more like that,” Liebert said.
While building her resume and making sure to choose roles that are family friendly and respectful to women, Liebert isn’t too “choosy” yet. Is that the ultimate goal? Of course! “I hope it continues and the parts get bigger and more exciting.”
As for her dream role, she laughs as she says it would be Liza Minnelli. Realistically, she thinks, it would be something that included singing. One day, a role in a series based in Vancouver would be ideal. In addition, Liebert’s plan is to be on stage in Vancouver in the next year. She says her heart is where home is.
Back and forth from Vancouver to L.A. can be exhausting, but she hasn’t yet made the plunge to live full time in Tinsel Town. Perhaps she is delaying the inevitable, or perhaps she will always be that small town girl, or maybe Liebert just really is one of the few down-to-earth, sweet, family-loving people refusing to fall victim to celebrity. When asked about her love life, she becomes shy and won’t elaborate, but makes sure to point out “not because I think I’m famous.”
When she’s not working, Liebert loves being around dogs and taking photos of them, though she hasn’t picked one out for herself just yet. “I may have a secondary career as a pet photographer,” she quipped.
What’s to come of the future? One thing seems likely: Liebert hopes she will never lose sight of what’s important. Family, friends, pets, good food (croissants, more specifically) — her appreciation for the simple pleasures in life is palpable.
And ss for that GPS? Well, for right now, it’s recalculating.