Lee Academy Alumni

Laura de Groot

I started dancing when I was 3 years old and joined Lee Academy in 1995. Whilst at Lee Academy, and with Donna’s encouragement, I took part in summer schools at the Leicester College of Performing Arts and Sylvia Young Theatre School, as well as workshops at Urdang Academy.

At 16 I was accepted into Phil Winston’s Theatreworks Stage School on their 3 year Vocational Musical Theatre Course.

After graduating I began auditioning and secured a job with Med Ents Ltd, an entertainment company based on Rhodes, in their cabaret show ‘Stardust.’ After 2 years with the company I was promoted to resident choreographer. We expanded the variety of shows and began suppling to venues and hotels all over Greece and Turkey.

After 6 years with the company I moved back to the UK and began a job with British Airways as Cabin Crew.

After taking a break from work in 2019 to start a family I am now working in the Creative and Performing Arts department of a secondary school.

Gemma Lloyd

Gemma was taught by Miss Donna from the age of 3, originally at classes at Milverton House School and then a few years later when she opened The Lee Academy. Gemma took part in all classes the academy offered, gaining mostly distinctions for her exams across all styles. She performed in various shows during her time with the Lee Academy, with annual shows at the Bedworth Civic hall. As well as having the opportunity to perform on stages such as The Royal Albert Hall, Her Majesty’s Theatre and at Disneyland Paris.

Since graduating stage school she has been fortunate to have a varied career across Theatre, Film & TV both as talent and within the creative/production teams. With credits including lead roles for Musicals, revue shows, immersive theatre, pantomimes, and touring shows. Recently she has focused her attention to on screen roles and has credits for commercials, reality TV, short films and also as a lead actor for a feature length Film which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.           

Currently, alongside various acting and performing contracts, she is Principal of a Dance and Performing Arts school and Tap Dance Tutor for ESPA a vocational performing arts college. She is currently working on the choreography for a new Musical that will be pitched to various theatres later on in 2023. Gemma has her own Production company called Un:ted Dance Collective that has 4 different productions lined up for 2023.            

She will be forever grateful to Miss Donna and the Lee Academy for instilling passion, confidence, creativity and an excellent work ethic. The Lee Academy is a loving, nurturing environment where teamwork and life long friends are made.   

Credits

Theatre: Sleeping Beauty (touring), Moulin Rouge (The Royal Theatre), Into the Woods (The Corn Exchange), Legally Blonde (The Grove Theatre), Pantoween (Empire Theatre), A Christmas Adventure (Immersive), Book Club : An original Musical (The Grove Theatre), Talking Tales(Immersive), Cinderella (Stantonbury Theatre).  

Film and TV: George: ASDA Slay it campaign (commercial) , OFF Protection (multimedia), NHS Professionals (multimedia), Horoscopes: Pieces (short film), Cleavers (feature film), Made in Chelsea (TV).

Ruth Phillips

I attended the Lee Academy for 17 years, starting at the age of 2 in 1995 and leaving when I went to university in 2014. I passed examinations in all disciplines and also taught at The Lee Academy. I developed my love for drama and theatre during my time at The Lee Academy and I have now managed to make a career from that.

In 2014, I went to University of East Anglia and studied Drama (BA). Whilst there I branched out from performing, a love which I had discovered and honed at Lee Academy into theatre direction, choreography, and movement. In my final year, I was appointed movement director and choreographer for the three final year productions and this is where I learnt of the expanding field of movement direction. I went straight into an MA in ‘Movement: Directing and Teaching’ at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD), at the time the only course in the country offering the specialism.

Since graduating RCSSD in 2018 I have worked as a freelance movement director for theatre, film and opera. Credits include: National Youth Theatre, Almeida Theatre (Young Company), LAMDA, Guildhall, Kings Head Theatre, Neville Holt Opera, Historic Royal Palaces.

I also work as a movement teacher and teach regularly at conservatoires such as The BRIT School, LAMDA, Mountview and RCSSD. I use my dance background continuously in my work as a teacher and movement director.

I continue to teach dance with two companies, School of SOS (where I also train the teachers) and The Curve Catwalk and have run dance auditions for a number of musicals. I recently choreographed my first musical: ‘RENT’ by Jonathon Larson, performed at LAMDA.

I am an Associate Artist of SpeakUp Theatre, a theatre company that tell untold stories, largely from women’s perspectives. We also facilitate workshops and devise pieces based on the stories and experiences shared. I have directed three shows with the company which have received 5 star reviews. We have performed at The Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and twice at the VAULT Festival in London. I’ve also done two other shows at the Fringe since leaving UEA.

Lastly, through my personal practice and research, I am working to make theatre and dance more inclusive of different body shapes and tackle the issue of body image in training and onstage. I received a substantial Arts Council Grant to fund this work and allow me to develop my practice.

I think back on how much of my love for theatre was fostered in my sessions with Donna and continue to hold on to much of what I learnt there.

Key Credits:

RENT (LAMDA), Dennis of Penge (Guildhall), FAMEWHORE (The Kings Head) The Maladies (The Yard with Almedia Young Company), Emilia (LAMDA), Mr Burns (LAMDA), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Neville Holt Opera), Beyond the Deepening Shadows: The Tower Remembers (Historic Royal Palaces, Tower of London), Tortoise (National Youth Theatre)\

Ella Hill

I graduated from UCLAN in 2021 with a First-Class Honours degree in Music Theatre.  I studied performing arts from a young age. I have experience in film, theatre, Shakespeare, and musicals. In 2019, I successfully auditioned for and subsequently choreographed a production of The Addams Family for the University’s Musical Theatre Society. I now live in Manchester, but continue to act in various plays and radio plays professionally, for a theatre company based in Hinckley. My most recent production was a Play called ‘Being Dora’ that took place in April 2023. 

Megan Truslove

I started dancing at the age of 3 and attended The Lee Academy in 2000. During my time at The Lee Academy I took part in performances at Bedworth Civic Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Disneyland Paris. Whilst at The Lee Academy, Donna encouraged me to continue pursuing my passion by attend Leicester College for Performing Art and then further education at Stella Mann College of Performing Arts. 

After graduating from Stella Mann College of Performing Arts, with a First Class Degree and Student of The Year, I moved to London and have continued to work on a various project ranging from dance to fashion.

The skills and confidence I’ve gained from being a performer have also allowed me to work within the events industry for various companies. Includes AMEX, SarStraa, SAP, Wembley, Saracens as event lead and brand ambassador.

Credits:
British Movement Awards – Charise Renouf 
Pineapple 40th Anniversary party – Mark Battershall
NTU Fashion Show – Gaz Davis
The Phillip Birchall Method X Move It 
Annabels – Blackbird Cage 
Heropanti 2
Sante + Wade Campaign 

Izzy Feilding

I joined the Lee Academy in 2008, at the age of six, instantly I enjoyed the family atmosphere and positive learning environment created by Donna and all of the amazing staff.  I was fortunate to be able to perform in various locations with the Lee Academy, including aboard the MSC Poesia, Disneyland Paris and Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End. Additionally, at the Lee Academy I taught classes to younger students, as part of the student teacher program. This was a great experience, as it massively helped me gain confidence in large group settings and maturity, as I was looking after students and allowing them to express themselves creatively. 

I will always be grateful for my time at the Lee Academy, it introduced me to musical theatre, dance and drama, helped me develop the passion and confidence to pursue it professionally. Since leaving the Lee Academy I have furthered my musical theatre studies at Bird College, a drama school in London where I am currently completing a degree in musical theatre. Once I graduate, I aim to get an agent and work professionally in the musical theatre industry. I couldn’t recommend Donna, Kia and the Academy enough, be it for a fun hobby and making friends or if you are interested in pursuing performing