Take it from actress Georgina Reilly, Canada will grow with compassion by way of understanding.
By Sarah Fox
Photography by Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
British-Canadian actress, Georgina Reilly, was raised among artists—her father was a songwriter and composer, while her grandfather, Tommy Reilly, introduced the world to the classical harmonica.
Their influence has informed Georgina’s outlook; she is steadfast in her support of the arts as a bonding agent. The individual relationship people hold with art proves, for Georgina, that “it’s the most universal thing… it’s a way we can all understand each other better.”
Determined to deepen her own understanding of the world, Georgina—best known for her role in CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries—walks into every setting, whether in her professional or personal life, with an open mind and curious heart. Engaging in open conversations is the first act in Georgina’s approach to change-making: she listens, learns and spreads newfound knowledge.
“It’s not always easy,” Georgina admits. “To understand someone else, we have to be willing to really look at their viewpoint—regardless if it is in conflict with our own.”
For the young actress—who first garnered the attention of critics and cinephiles with her breakout role in Bruce McDonald’s Pontypool—some of her most important lines concern human rights. The disparaging circumstances of human rights around the world has galvanized her into action, specifically hunting for more information in order to educate herself.
Looking to organizations such as Youth for Human Rights (YHRI)—a non-profit that teaches youth The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)—Georgina treats everyday conversations as a chance to learn and spread awareness, stressing that “if every country took a stand to make sure that these rights were a reality, as they were intended to be, we could be on the way to a much more ideal Canada and world.”
When choosing a life partner, it’s no surprise Georgina chose Mark O’Brien, a fellow actor and Canadian who shares her affinity for creative arts, collaboration and communication. Together, the two strive to foster a considerate and compassionate lifestyle, with an appreciation for what they can learn from each other and others. “We don’t live alone in this world,” Mark shared during his own “WE are Canada: Future 50” interview. “If everyone only looked out for themselves exclusively, mankind simply wouldn’t have made it this far.”
Georgina—a fierce optimist—holds humour and joy as staples in her everyday life. When we lose sight of those core values, she postulates, “everything becomes ‘bad’ and that makes it much harder to get things done.” In her experience, the secret is focusing on the light, even when stumbling in darkness.
An artist with a passion for communication and an individual with a love of learning, Georgina’s Canada is one that stands tall upon a foundation of shared understanding. Read on to learn why she believes the arts and education are intrinsically linked.
Why is “we” stronger than “me?”
Life is always a group effort. It’s very rare that you spend a full day not talking to anyone. Even when you’re watching TV, you are in communication with the people who created it, you are being effected by them in some way, even if it’s small. Ordering food, buying groceries, writing a script, it all involves other people at some point. I think we all need to be more aware of how many people our daily decisions actually affect.
What is the kindest action you’ve been on the receiving end of, and what about the gesture touched you personally?
My mum is the kindest and most selfless person I know. She’s always been there, always shown up and never once asked for anything in return. I know this isn’t something that everyone gets to experience, so I have always been so grateful to have a mum who is steadfast and reliable. I have learnt so much from watching her. She’s taught me to be a kinder, more patient person in life.
Fill in the blank: Moving forward into the next 150 years, our country needs [blank] in order to build a more caring and compassionate Canada.
Art educates, inspires and gives us a place to experience the way other people see the world in an open-minded setting. It can change someone’s day, viewpoint or make them laugh when they’re feeling sad. Our country needs more of it.
Describe the core values of your ideal Canada.
Kind, understanding and helpful to those in need. One of my favorite quotes is: “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”
Nominate someone you believe is working to positively change the future of Canada.
I have two friends, Alexandra and Lindsay Lorusso, who created this company, Nudnik. It’s a line of kids clothing that is 100 per cent upcycled [manufactured without the use of water, oil or harsh chemical] and leading the way in environmentally friendly fashion choices. They are a change-makers, showing that with a little extra effort, we can make beautiful products without harming our environment.
As we work to make Canada a better country, what is one action you would like people to take?
To find more positivity in life. It’s so easy to give into the hate… the gossip… the “did you hear?” The good news seems to be overshadowed, and we become overwhelmed because of how wrong it all looks, when actually there is so much right in the world!