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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Senior Amelie Beresford-Wood credits Coeur d’Alene High for helping her grow as actor

Coeur d'Alene High School senior Amelie Beresford-Wood is photographed on stage at the school on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. She is an accomplished actor and plans on acting while attending Chapman University in Orange, California. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Tyler Wilson For The Spokesman-Review

Amelie Beresford-Wood is bursting with energy. Combined with a strong work ethic and a healthy dose of natural talent, it’s easy to see how the senior has made such an impression in the Coeur d’Alene High School theater department.

“Amelie is this ball of positive energy, and not in such a way that’s fake; it’s authentic,” said CHS theater director Jared Helm. “She is such an open human being who is passionate, caring and empathetic, especially amongst her peers.”

Beresford-Wood was born in North Idaho but was living more recently in California before moving back to Coeur d’Alene ahead of her junior year.

“At first it was pretty terrible – we moved back into the same house I lived in here for 10 years,” Beresford-Wood said. “It actually ended up being better for me. It was the best decision my mom ever made, and I was so mad at her at the time.”

In California, she was an active member of the Peter Pan Foundation, a theatrical company that performed and raised money for children’s hospitals. Just a few weeks after moving back to Coeur d’Alene, Amelie landed the role of Wendy in the school production of “Peter Pan.”

Beresford-Wood said she’d loved acting for some time, but was always wanting to get better and be challenged by the process. Helm’s approach proved to be the spark for her development.

“Everything was really professional – the way Mr. Helm directs, he’s so on top of everything, and he knows the best ways to get into the pieces,” Beresford-Wood said.

She credits the program for helping her find a more natural way to connecting with characters, learning the Stanislavski method of better empathizing with the characters being portrayed.

“The acting is so naturalistic, and at first it was really hard for me,” she said.

Helm said it was a matter of allowing herself to be more emotive on stage.

“She really needed that permission to tap into those feelings and emotions, and she has,” Helm said. “She’s done it in such a truthful way, and that’s hard for a director to ask of a high school student.”

Beresford-Wood has been a force on the school’s competitive drama team too, winning state competitions by challenging herself with material that takes her further out of her comfort zone. She takes little of the credit, instead championing her classmates, Helm and drama coach and writer Michael Murray.

She’s also played on the varsity water polo team both years at CHS, was an active peer mentor and member of the school’s National Honor Society chapter.

As a capper to her illustrious high school career, she was back on stage – playing Ariel in CHS’ production of “The Little Mermaid.”

“All my best friends were in the show with me, and it’s been such a fun ride,” she said. “It was one of the best times I’ve ever acted.”

Helm said her leadership in the department has been invaluable.

“Just having such energetic and passionate seniors, it just shows the underclassmen what this art form can really do,” Helm said. “When Amelie is around you feel the love. I am such a big believer in what we give is what we get, and she gives and gives and gives.”

Next year, Beresford-Wood is headed to Chapman University in Orange, California, to pursue theater acting, but she hasn’t narrowed her career focus completely – she’s also thinking about going into education.

“Broadway really was my dream, but I need to do more soul-searching,” she said. “If you want this, you need to be sure. But I’m obsessed with school and learning since I moved back here. My teachers just care about their students so much. I’ve been really inspired by them and how they teach.”