INTERVIEW WITH GYMNAST, DANCER, AND AERIALIST EMILIE LIVINGSTON
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emilie Livingston, originally from my hometown of Toronto, Ontario. Emilie currently resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Jeff Goldblum, and her baby boy, Charlie Ocean Goldblum. Emilie is a former Olympic Rhythmic Gymnast. She dedicated her life to becoming an athlete in order to pursue her dream of going to the Olympics. She competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and came out an impressive 17th, representing her home country of Canada.
This interview will give you a glimpse into the life of Emilie. She highlights the importance of following her passion, being an athlete, a dancer and an aerialist, what it is like to be a working mother, her love for her husband and the pressures of body image at a young age.
In the Luc Besson's 'Valerian', what is your role?
My role in Valerian is called Bubble Dancer. I’m dancing and doing many of my specialty skills. It’s going to be a very interesting scene!
How did you prepare for your role in the Valerian?
Well that is a complicated answer because when I met with Luc about the job, I was three months post pregnancy. So I not only had to prepare to create a scene which required many different kinds of dancing skills, but I also needed to get back into performance shape. I used the first part of my day to create ideas and possible sequences to show Luc at our second meeting based off of what we had discussed in our first meeting. The second part of my day I worked out, focusing on my hip-flexor’s flexibility, my back flexibility as well as my core strength. I did a lot of aerial strength training, like hanging leg raises, pull-ups, tic tocs and just climbing silks. Once I was done with the hard part, I would jog lightly on the treadmill or go for a long walk with my son (on me, in a baby carrier) up in the hills of Hollywood.
You recently became a mother to Charlie Ocean Goldblum, congratulations! How do you balance traveling for work while being a mother and wife?
I have to say I don’t feel like I’m one of those mothers where it all just feels effortless to be a mother as well as high-level performer. I think being a mother full time is a very rewarding experience, but it’s also a lot of hard work. Charlie is the sweetest and has a great temperament so that helps a lot. Patience with yourself and with your baby is key, as well as not being afraid to ask for help whenever you may need it.
How do you balance being a new mother and finding time to do the things that you love?
Whenever I start something I am very passionate about or something I am dying to do then I find the time to make it work, and make the proper arrangements. For example, most recently I performed in The Weeknd’s Oscar nominated song “Earned It” as a solo aerialist on the 88th Annual Oscar’s Ceremony on Sunday Feb 28th.
What is your favorite part of being a mother?
I think it’s the love you feel, the selflessness. It’s nice to care for someone else, for his happiness, for his well being, for his everyday routine. His needs are more important than my own. Feeling that profound sense of selflessness is quite spectacular. Watching him look at nature for the first time, his infinite sense of wonderment, how everything is new for the first time. I can see through his eyes, allowing me to see the world with a renewed sense of wonderment. I get a big kick out of that.
What is your favorite part of being a wife?
Every day, my whole day with Jeff is beautiful, silly, enchanting, inspiring, and he challenges me to be a better person. Overall being his wife gives me purpose to my life, to take care of him, to take care of each other.
What are some similarities you find from your athletic and acting career?
How did your passion for gymnastics begin?
Through dance really. I started ballet at two years old. My sister, who is three and half years older than me, was enrolled in dance classes, and I would be at the dance studio with my mom. While she was dressing my sister, I would use that opportunity to bolt, and sneak into a class. Eventually, it continued from there and I was placed in a dance class without having to sneak into it. Here, my love of being on the stage, for creativity and movement began to take off. Opening myself up to the curiosity of the endless possibilities found artistic beauty. I feel that Rhythmic Gymnastics is a very beautiful and feminine sport requiring superb discipline. My first coach, I saw her perform in Toronto. She was doing a show to get kids interested in RhythmicGymnastics. This is where I first saw a high level representation of Rhythmic Gymnastics. What I was exposed to in Canada wasn’t near that level. Canada doesn’t have the same resources as say Russia, for the sport to really be taken to its highest potential. Seeing this high caliber of performance really got me inspired and energized, bringing me closer to my passion. I said, that’s what I want to do. I want to do this and make it to the Olympics, and I did. I competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, placing a well respected 17th, representing Canada.
What has helped motivate you to master your craft as a contortionist and aerialist?
Witnessing other exceptionally skilled contortionists and aerialists really helped motivate me. Enjoying the day-to-day practice of it. Stretching, practicing balance and strength moves. It’s fun! It’s exciting to climb, and learn new tricks. Once you learn how to transition in your own way, it becomes second nature to you. The whole process, the trick plus the transition, eventually allows the whole sequence to become second nature. Whichever piece of music you choose really dictates the tone of the aerial choreography
If there is one piece of advice you can give a young athlete, what would it be?
Not being afraid to be passionate about something! Whatever your passion is, follow that passion early on. Sometimes these sports are a young person’s sport. Your body needs to be youthful, and be able to bounce back. There is a clock and time frame to really do anything athletic on a highly completive level, such as the Olympics. Don’t let time go by, and do not let other people talk you of it. You have to sacrifice things like prom and parties. Determination requires sacrifice. If you really want to do it, then you will. Stay on track. Start as young as you can, and follow your passion to the best of your ability.
Growing up, have you ever struggled with body image issues? How did you deal with it?
Growing up as a Rhythmic Gymnast in Canada, people would taunt me, thinking I had an eating disorder, that I was too thin, etc. From my competitor’s coaches in Canada, they would try to say I was unhealthy or too skinny so that I wouldn’t be able to compete. But in reality, I was healthy. I was fortunate as well that my mother would also cook healthy and balanced meals. Genetically speaking, I am also petit. I did feel confident that I was healthy. At the end of the day I knew I was training for the Olympics, and I adjusted my diet accordingly. I am also blessed with genes that were conducive for the sport I chose. I was lucky.
You are from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. What are some of your fondest memories of Toronto?
My best friend, Melissa and I went to school and gymnastics together. I’d say something as simple as taking the streetcar on Queen Street to go to trainings near Queen and Pape.
You live in LA now. With all the pressures that come with living there, do you feel pressured to have a certain body image?
You do want to look your best. It’s easy to make healthy decisions in LA, as we are around fresh fruit and vegetables, various farmers markets, and many natural food stores. The weather makes it easier to stay motivated as well. Jeff and I also eat pretty clean. We don’t drink or smoke. Very rarely, I will have a glass of wine.
How do you stay active with your busy schedule?
My work, my career is active. Having a baby requires you to be active as well. It all goes hand in hand.
Do you feel any kind of pressure for being married to your actor husband, Jeff Goldblum?
No, he makes me feel safe, and obviously very happy. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, especially Jeff. I tend to be on the more serious side and he definitely can turn any intense situation into something filled with laughter and warmth.
Can you share some information about any upcoming shows/performances that you will be involved with?
Most Recently the Oscars were pretty fulfilling and exciting! The Dolby Theater stage was very special to perform on
Do you have any social media sites where fans can visit to find out more information about you?
Instagram and Twitter. My website is currently being redesigned but stay tuned! Twitter: @emchka Instagram: Emilie Livingston
MAY TOUMA is a Youth Worker who has a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University in Toronto. She is a bit of a rebel who likes to challenge the status quo. She is passionate, boisterous and wears her heart on her sleeve. May has a personal style blog at www.boldlycurvy.blogspot.ca. She loves experimenting and having fun with fashion.