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Interview: Bri Neal

Hollywood is known as the place where dreams can come true, but it takes more than just dreaming to make it happen. You need skill, talent and just a little bit of luck to make it in the business. One such individual who has all those components and more is actress and model Bri Neal.

The Canadian born Neal first gained national recognition with her work as a model through her photos on Instagram, Maxim and more. This lead to her current passion, acting. She has been seen in television series such as R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, Once Upon a Time and The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story. Her most recent appearance was on the recently renewed FOX series Lucifer where she played Ali Thornton.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Bri and talk about her beginnings in the business, the good and bad aspects of social media and her work with the organization Hope of Life that helps children in other countries.

Pop Culture Principle – Sometimes it takes a person years to find out what their true calling is, but for you it seems you knew at a very early age. Would you agree?

Bri Neal – I would definitely agree with that. For me personally, I found acting through dance. I was first and foremost a professionally trained ballerina for the first thirteen years of my life, and I loved it. But the moment when I discovered my passion for acting was when I was in the Associates Program at the National Ballet school in Toronto.

I had the opportunity to be in Canada’s National Ballet’s Nutcracker and it was actually then, on stage, that I felt the need to further express myself artistically. Performing as a ballerina you are a storyteller, and I was able to carry that with me into acting. It was a deeper way of finding and just expressing my true self. Being able to tell stories is the reason why I fell in love with acting. As a child I was always immersed in the arts, whether it was dance or singing; it played a huge part in my life.

Pop Culture Principle – You mentioned performing in The National Ballet of Canada's Nutcracker. What was it like for you to step on that stage for the first time?

Bri Neal – Oh my gosh, let’s just say it was every girl’s little dream! It was a gorgeous production, and the costumes and the ballerinas and just everything as a whole were fantastic. Just being able to participate in something like that was amazing, and it’s everything that I worked for as a dancer.

Pop Culture Principle – Ballet takes a lot of discipline. Did that discipline and work ethic help you at all with your acting?

Bri Neal – It did, immensely. Ballet especially, of all dance forms, is very strict and disciplined. When I was in high school, I was training up to 20 hours a week. I would leave school every day at one o’clock to start training. It was a really huge part of my life. Definitely the discipline and the structure of ballet helped me with my acting.

Pop Culture Principle – Your first professional credit is listed as the episode “Headshots” on the series R. L Stine’s The Haunting Hour. What was that experience like for you?

Bri Neal – Stepping on a television set for the very first time, it was a great experience. It was a kid’s television show, so they made it very comfortable. I was working with Ariel Winter from Modern Family. Haunting Hour was a great production. They offer great opportunities for starting actors, so I was very lucky to land that episode as my first role for sure.

Pop Culture Principe – One of the biggest shows of the Nineties was Melrose Place. Lifetime recently did the The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story. What can you tell us about working on that project?

Bri Neal – It’s funny, I auditioned for some of the female roles on Melrose Place, and it ended up that I didn’t look close enough to any of the women, which was the main purpose of the project—finding look-a-likes who could portray those roles on Melrose. So I ended up just doing a small little part on the movie. It was fun to just work and be on set.

Pop Culture Principle – Fox’s new series Lucifer has become a hit for the network. You recently appeared in the episode “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness”. Can you tell us about your character, Ali, and what it was like working on that show?

Bri Neal – I portray the role of Ali Thornton, who was a small town girl and a young actress who was desperate for fame. Unfortunately, she associated herself with the wrong people, and undeniably was killed.

It was an amazing time working on set. The cast and crew were so fun and so welcoming, and I just had a wonderful experience. I played Ali for a few days, and it was really relaxed and everyone was full of energy. I love working in environments in which there is so much passion, and I really felt that on set.

Pop Culture Principle – You also have done some modeling in your career. What do you enjoy most about modeling?

Bri Neal – Well, first and foremost, my main focus is acting. But also, being in this industry, I have had opportunities to do some editorials as well. I do feel as though the two tend to intertwine at times. I was fortunate enough to do some editorials in Ellements Magazine, New York. I was also featured in Maxim, and I was lucky enough to model for Sports Illustrated designer Anna Kosturova and a few other designers. It’s been great, but my main focus is definitely acting.

Pop Culture Principle – Social media has become an important part of the entertainment industry. How important has social media been in regards to your career and getting your name out there?

Bri Neal – Well, honestly, I am not the biggest fan of social media. If I didn’t have to have it, I wouldn’t. In this business, it’s definitely important to develop and have a fanbase. If I didn’t have to have Instagram or Twitter I wouldn’t, because I am a very private person. I almost feel like we aren’t left with a choice because it’s the kind of thing you almost have to have being an actor.

I’ve had some scary instances via social media, and I feel that some people get it mixed up with reality. I could go on for days about social media. It’s a scary world, but it’s just being able to handle it.

Pop Culture Principle – You have a lot going in with your entertainment work, but you also find time to help children in other countries. You recently visited Guatemala to help kids in that area. Can you tell us about that experience?

Bri Neal – I would love to! I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala and work with an organization called Hope of Life. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was so humbling and so wonderful to be able to go and help these children. We would build houses in this village, and I was lucky to go on a rescue mission. We would go to a village with a doctor and four other people. We would rescue starving babies from elderlies to single mothers that can’t afford to feed their child. I was able to carry these babies out of these little dirt huts. It was emotional, but such a beautiful experience to go and help these babies.

What Hope of Life does is they have this hospital and they have housing facilities for these families in need. They give them fresh water, food, and a home, and they are given the option to stay there with their families or they could choose to leave.

It was such a beautiful experience, and I am definitely going back to work with Hope of Life again. It definitely put things in perspective, and it truly shows you what’s important in life and how lucky we are. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Pop Culture Principle – What would be your definition of success?

Bri Neal – Well, success to me isn’t measured by social media! It’s definitely not measured by how many people know my name. It’s more personal, so, for me, it’s being able to do what I love, and to have the opportunity to have people who believe in me, and being able to story tell and being able to take on different roles. Being successful is being able to wake up every day with a smile on my face and do something that I love.

Pop Culture Principle – As your career continues to grow, do you see yourself getting into producing, writing, and directing?

Bri Neal – Yes, definitely. I do write, and I think part of being an artist is being able to have all those outlets and it is just part of the craft. I would love to write and direct and produce my own projects one day. It’s definitely a dream of mine, but, in the meantime, I will focus on my acting.

Pop Culture Principle – If you were given the opportunity to work with any actor right now in a film, who would it be?

Bri Neal – Meryl Streep, hands down! She is a legend. Of course, there would be other actors I would be grateful to work with, but number one for me is Meryl Streep.

Pop Culture Principle – When you aren’t working, what do you like to do with your free time?

Bri Neal – I am a busybody, so I love going for hikes with my dog. I just love being out and about. I am fortunate enough to be from such a beautiful place as Vancouver, so literally my backyard is mountains and oceans, so I can do what I want. I love exploring, and I love traveling.

We would like to thank Bri Neal for taking time to sit down and talk with us. If you would like to keep up with all her latest news and projects, you can like her official Facebook page here, follow her official Twitter account @Bri__Neal or her Instagram account @brineal.

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