The Creative Process
I have wanted to be an actor my whole life. In University I realized that I also like directing and that I really love being part of the creative process of script development. With every new skill I learn, I have always found a way to incorporate it into my artistic practice. Many people have asked me whether I like acting or directing more, and I honestly have never been able to provide an answer. I love both for different reasons. I am a writer as well but most of the work I write is something that I either act in or direct. I have not written a script to be developed by other artists (maybe one day, but not at this time).
Most of my original work is developed in a devised theatre style. I usually start with a concept, theme or even just a vague idea. I will then dive into research on the topic gathering inspiration from books, poems, music, images, documentaries and anything else that might be a source of inspiration. Once I sift through all this material, I start the process of physical exploration. I will develop sequences and scenes through a combination of improvisation as well as physical exploration of the material. (For example: if I have found a series of images, I may try to mimic them with my body or a part of my body.) Through this exploration I will develop a performance. Some of my work has been more linear and some has been more abstract, resembling a collage. (If you are interested in the kinds of projects I have worked on, take a peek at the Creations page.) I am currently interested in how my devised theatre background can translate to film. This is something I have barely begun to explore because I am still learning the “film ropes.”
Although the above creative process is what I tend to specialize in, I am also happy to work in a more traditional way depending on the needs of the current project. My film work so far has been primarily in acting. (Although, any theatre trained actor can tell you that the initial transition from stage acting to screen acting can take some getting used to!) I feel very fortunate to have connected with some local filmmakers who are more than happy to teach while they create. I have written one script so far and have been part of the creative process for several of the other films we have shot. I have yet to direct something but have been happy to develop an on-screen presence. I will continue to post more about my new film life as it develops and I should be putting together a demo reel very soon.
Behind the Name
I adopted the stage name “Ce-Lee” at the beginning of 2020 but the idea of using a stage name was in the works for much longer. Rachel Elizabeth Smith is a very common name and in an industry based on name recognition, taking on a professional name was inevitable.
Seeley was the middle name of one of my Grandmothers. I felt incorporating a family name was a wonderful way to honour my ancestors while staying true to my roots. I changed the spelling to add my own personal twist to the name. All artistic endeavours have now been merged under “Ce-Lee” and “Ce-Lee Productions.”
When I was in my final year of high school, I had a difficult choice to make: Music or Acting. I know the two go hand-in-hand but with the programs I was interested in I could not do both, I had to choose. Once I chose Acting (and later Directing) I never looked back. My only regret is that in my focus on theatre school I kind of lost my passion for music.
I have always loved playing music and learning new instruments comes easily to me. The ones that have stuck are the piano and tenor saxophone. I also sing and have had vocal training from a young age. Recently, I have been working to rekindle my musical past. I am currently learning the guitar, have gotten back into singing, have slowly begun to play the piano and saxophone again and am working to develop my skills as a songwriter. I am still working on bringing forward my musical talents but my goal is to incorporate music into as much of my new work as I can. I am enjoying this new musical journey and am excited for the growth that it brings.