Life Sentence’s Brooke Lyons Shares Her Life Lessons
Brooke Lyons’ journey to acting is marked by drive, resilience and infectious energy. She’s had plenty of screen time on hit TV shows like 2 Broke Girls, iZombie and The Affair, and is starring in CW’s upcoming series, Life Sentence. But Lyons is more than your average actress: she’s a studied dancer, author, wife and mother.
Lyons shared with Terroir a bit of her personal journey, career and family life.
From dancing to the big screen
At 14, Lyons was set on becoming a professional ballet dancer. Growing up in Connecticut only an hour away from Manhattan, she would often take the train into New York for dance class. Studying ballet throughout childhood had her dancing in some of the city’s best programs, and dreaming of her debut as a ballerina with a world-class company.
All that changed with a diagnosis later that year: Scoliosis.
“I had a severe curvature in my spine. Although this condition is common, the doctors said mine was really progressing and that I would need surgery. I pretty much knew right then my plans of being a professional dancer weren’t going to pan out,” says Lyons.
What does one do when life forces you to change course unexpectedly? For Lyons, the answer was to pivot and become a spokesperson for her illness.
“I got really involved in the Scoliosis association. I was looking for community and support, and ended up being very vocal. This led me to writing a book about my experience with the condition, since there was nothing out there at the time. I wanted to create something that would connect people who were going through the same thing,” says Lyons.
This was all before she started college. When listening to Lyons recount this period of her life, she relayed it with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and wit. It’s the same magnetic energy that’s so evident in her acting.
After high school, Lyons headed off to Yale to study English literature. While recovering from back surgery in her freshman year, Lyons really started to miss performing on stage. Doctors had advised no physical activity for a year, so dancing was out of the question.
On a whim, Lyons went to audition for a play instead – Rumors, by Neil Simon. She got the part. “That audition was the moment I started acting. From then on, I was hooked.”
Life Sentence and filming in Vancouver
These days, Lyons is busy filming for CW’s new series, Life Sentence. The show tells the story of Stella Abbott, a young woman who beats cancer and gets a new lease on life.
Lyons plays Stella’s older sister, Elizabeth.
Lyons shared what convinced her to play Elizabeth’s character, and her love for the unique storyline of the show.
“When I read the script, the depiction of Stella’s family is what drew me in. They’re wonderfully dysfunctional in a way I relate to. Elizabeth is Stella’s older sister, type-A, and the oldest sibling of three. I have a younger brother and sister in my own family, So I’ve got plenty of experience to pull from,” laughs Lyons.
While the show centers around a dramatic and serious theme, it’s treated with heart with humor. This resonated with Lyons and was one of the reasons she jumped at the opportunity to be involved.
“The writing so elegantly handles the complexity of grappling with illness and its aftermath. Is it devastating? Of course. But when you’re facing something challenging in life, laughter is one of the only ways through. Finding those pockets of light and levity enables you to survive. The show is a combination of heart and humour – the writers did an amazing job of balancing the two,” says Lyons.
As for the rest of the cast, Lyons can’t speak highly enough of her screen mates and the chemistry between them. “Going to work every day feels organic, like we’re a real family. We all connected immediately and really care about each other,” she says.
The LA-based cast set up shop in Vancouver to film for six months in late 2017. While filming, Lyons’ family came along to keep her company: her husband, 5-month old son and Shitzu ‘Lucy’ – named after the famed Lucille Ball. When asked what she thinks about the city, Lyons turns out to be a big fan.
“I love Vancouver! I’ve worked here on other projects and each time I wished I could stay longer. The nature and city is stunning. When I found out Life Sentence was shooting here, it was really a dream come true.”
A New-Englander at heart
Even though Lyons has lived in California for the past 14 years, she identifies most with her hometown, Connecticut. She’s certainly come a long way since then. Gaining progressively more prominent roles on various hit TV shows, she’s continued to make leaps in her career by harnessing her passion and drive since day one.
Of course, success hasn’t come without it’s challenges. When asked about the greatest obstacle she’s had to overcome, Lyons put it simply: fear and doubt.
“So many obstacles seem like they’re coming from the outside, but they are actually rooted internally. I find the key to resilience is not letting rejection have any power over you. In my experience, if you act from a place of love and confidence, it shifts your mindset from getting to giving. Get in the habit of asking, what of value can I contribute here? To me that’s really freeing,” says Lyons.
When she’s not acting, Lyons is busy caring for the newest addition to her family, their 5-month old son. He is one of her biggest inspirations, giving her a whole new outlook on life and acting. “Children are pure heart and instinct. They’re not socialized or second guessing themselves. My son inspires me to me loving, present, playful and true, which is also great for acting since it’s about trusting your instincts moment to moment,” muses Lyons.
What about before the baby? Any other hidden talents?
Writing. Lyons has always had an affinity for it. Between daily journaling and authoring her first book before college, Lyons loves putting pen to paper. Lately, she’s been collaborating with friends, working on an array of writing projects and scripts. One includes a comedy pilot she has yet to pitch.
“I write to process my thoughts and share experiences – I even have a shelf at home full of notebooks from over the years. I love getting together with creative groups of people to tell a story, and my hope is that what we have to share will resonate with others,” she says.
Lyons’ own story is one of inspiration. Here’s to making the most of whatever life throws at you, with perseverance, humor and class.
Catch Brooke Lyons in Life Sentence, premiering March 7, 2018 on CW!