50 Remarkable Alumni: Andy Thompson enjoys an enduring career in the arts

UFV2024 0026 50thAlumni Andy Thompson

It was in a UFV counsellor’s office at the age of 17 that Andy Thompson decided he would be an actor. Since that pivotal appointment with Dave Birkett, this alum has been following his art, and his heart.

Andy’s instructors at UFV were the first to encourage his passion for acting, which still fuels his success today. Back then, Theatre program head Ian Fenwick was the one to convince Andy’s mother that his career had a shot.

“That’s so important for young people in any field, to have those mentors who believe in you so strongly and are so in your corner that it forces you to grow,” he says.

After taking exploratory courses from 1987 to 1990 and being named one of UFV’s Top 40 Alumni in 2015, the last 10 years have been full of accomplishments. When he’s not teaching acting or writing and directing original stage productions, he’s been rubbing elbows with the stars on his latest projects. These include collaborations with Christina Ricci, Jon Hamm, Keri Russell, Jason Alexander, and Kate Beckinsale. Fans may recognize him from TV shows like Riverdale, Firefly Lane, Yellowjackets, and The Flash, or films like The Chronicles of Riddick, Antlers, and The BFG. One of the credits closest to his heart is his longest recurring role as Lionel Winters on the TV show Upload (which is streaming on Amazon Prime Video).

“I was on this profound journey which kind of burned out my ability to be nervous because it was so intense.”

Andy’s advice? UFV Theatre students must learn to practice patience and preparation, along with their craft.

“It can take a long time to get a foothold and build your reputation and, frankly, to have the skills required. A lot of them can only come by studying the craft. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s kind of like carpentry: no one’s just a naturally talented carpenter, you have to learn it.”

After working with Steven Spielberg, Andy learned the valuable lesson of how beneficial nerves can be.

“On The BFG,” he remembers, “I was shaking inside in a way that I’ve never shook. I was on this profound journey which kind of burned out my ability to be nervous because it was so intense. By just sitting in the experience and going through it and feeling the feelings, the next time it came, it was a little bit easier. And so I tell my students, ‘Hey, it’s okay that you’re nervous. Just feel it. Go through it.’”

Through all the ups and downs of a career in acting, he can’t imagine doing anything else.

“I just love doing it, and there is a lot to be said for waking up in the morning and knowing that you’ve devoted your training and your time to something that you really, really love,” he explains.

Thinking back to his 17-year-old self, Andy feels grateful for the pivotal support he received at UFV.

“It was all because I decided to follow my heart, and I don’t regret it at all.”

More than 50,000 people have graduated from UFV since 1974. Over the next year, we’ll be introducing you to 50 Remarkable Alumni.