SURNAME: Lehman nee Willis
GIVEN NAMES: Valerie Kathleen
DATE OF BIRTH: 15/03/1943
PLACE OF BIRTH: Perth, Western Australia
MARRIED TO: Lt. Francis Charles Lehman - 1962 Divorced 1978
Charles John Collins - 1989 Divorced 2004
SON: Jason Leslie Charles (Lehman)
DAUGHTERS: Cassandra Kathleen (Lehman) Dip Phot. MVA.
Joanne Frances (Lehman)
EDUCATION: St Hilda's CEGGS. Perth. Western Australia 1948 - 1949, Westleigh College. Melbourne, Victoria 1950 - 1959
National Theatre Drama School one term 1957
Royal Melbourne Institute Of Technology 1960 - First year Fine Arts
CAREER TO DATE: 2010 Appointed Brand Ambassador Green Lizard Australia
Jally Productions Actor - Mrs Meadow and Director, touring production - Steaming
1997- 2010 Stage: Actor director Australian touring production 'Steaming'
Melb Theatre Co. Script development - Scarlett O'Hara At The Crimson Parrot
Union Theatre Melb. Dibs - Inheritance
Victorian Arts Centre Director Short and Sweet Festival
Screen: Guest roles in a great many Australian Television series City Homicide, All Saints, Blue Heelers, Good Guys etc
Promotion & Fund Raising: CEO Captive Audience Events: Prisoner 30th Anniversary Event. Funds to Positive Women and Bushfire Relief
1989 -1996 UK THEATRE:
Tabs Productions in association with Wimbledon Theatre: Annie Wilkes 'Misery' toured UK and Nth Ireland
Tabs productions Pomegranate: Theatre Directed last of The Red Hot lovers
Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich Mrs. Northrop - When we are Married
Coliseum Theatre, Oldham Directed French Paste
Key Theatre, Peterborough Momma Morton - Chicago, Ouiser - Steel Magnolias, Miss Daisy - Driving Miss Daisy.
Redgrave Theatre, Farnham Beatrix Potter - The Secret of Beatrix Potter,
Gallery Productions UK Tour Mrs Bolton - Lady Chatterley's Lover
Granville Theatre Wicked Witch of the West - Wizard of Oz
Manchester Opera House Empress of China - Aladdin
Birmingham Rep. Pearl - Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
Screen: Guest on numerous interview programmes including: Wogan, Jonathan Ross.
Television Commercial Phostrogen plant food
1983-1989 STAGE: Melbourne Theatre Co: Eunice - Street Car Named Desire, Lorraine - A Lie of The Mind. Mrs Davidson- A Touch of Silk
Queensland Theatre Co. Fania - In Duty Bound
Elizabethan Theatre Co Tour Betty - The Foreigner
St Kilda Community Theatre Mom- A Piece of Cake
Canberra, Tempo Theatre Inc. Momma Morton - Chicago
Wilton Morley and Associates Tanzi's Mum - Trafford Tanzi
Screen. Mary Facey - A Fortunate Life. Television mini series
Guest roles in many Australian TV series ... Flying Doctors, Prime time etc ..
Guest on most interview programmes Featured in Best of Parkinson in Australia.
1978-1983 SCREEN: Big Lil - Kitty and the Bag Man, (Feature Film) Mrs Montaubuyn - Out Break of Love (ABC Television)
Bea Smith - Prisoner (Cell Block-H) Many benefits were associated with my four and a half years in this Australian Television series. The fact the character I was portraying took such a strong stand against drug abuse, gave me the opportunity to become personally involved in a number of worthwhile campaigns, Odyssey House, Supportive Environment for the Elimination of Drugs (SEED) Australian Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Dependence (AFADD), and the WINDANA Society, where I spoke at their inaugural meeting in Melbourne in the mid 80's.
Whilst acting as the Australian Actor's Equity' representative on Prisoner, and supported by the strong female cast, we caused major changes to the standard actors contract, improving the lot for all Australian actors.
Prisoner screened in 20 countries including: UK, NZ, Thailand. Sweden, Canada, USA, Chile, South Africa, Hong Kong. It was a showcase that Screened to millions in the UK.
Pioneered the Australian accent and idiom in the USA. Opened doors for Australian actors.
Stage: Festival Theatre Co. Carlotta - Follies. Margot - Applause.
Arena Theatre: Amanda - Glass Menagerie
1973-1978 STAGE: Five years with the Children's Arena Theatre: Actor, Tour Manager, Designer, Writer. Innovator.
CAT situated in Melbourne was Australia's first 'subsidised' Theatre In Education Company.
We performed original and commissioned shows in primary and secondary schools all over the state of Victoria.
Established a regular cooperative to each year perform the entire High School's Certificate, Poetry curriculum.
I ran drama workshops during the school holidays and was loaned out by CAT to a number of regional community programmes to do the same. My children were still young, so this afforded me the opportunity of parenting and acting as well. At the same time (in the evening) I took roles in the first commercial theatre restaurant production of Dimboola Wedding, and the following production of Goodbye Ted. at the Chevron Hotel in Melbourne. At one stage I was doing 21 performances a week, surviving on my own with, three children, no extra support, never busier and never happier.
Screen: I was spotted by an ABC TV producer whilst acting at the Chevron and cast in a leading role opposite John Mellion in the AB Television Drama Obsession. I had never before spoken a word on television. This lead to small featured roles in Power Without Glory, BellBird, and Tandarra.
Before CAT I had run a drama workshop programme for latch key children at Toorak state school for a year. I managed to gain my Equity card by playing extra roles in television
1967-1972: Whilst in the UK accompanying my first husband on his posting to the Royal Military College of Science (1967- Jan 1969)
I pursued an interest in amateur theatre, appearing in the College revues, (as I had at Art School), directed my first play, (Woman in a Dressing Gown) which was entered in and won the Rose Bowl drama festival. Played Mrs Barker in Edward Albee's The American Dream which was runner up in the 1968 British Drama League Festival .
When we returned to Australia in 1969 I expressed an interest in becoming a professional actor, this was not well received by my spouse and I fell back into amateur theatre both performing and acting. After six consecutive productions with the Pumpkin Players I accepted offered of introduction to an agent. I was sent to auditions gained roles, took a job promotion job with Melbourne Theatre Co. promoting a tour of 'Ideal Husband' and 'Cherry Orchard' with Frank Thring and Googie Withers. Left my husband to pursue the career in acting he refused to support.
HONOURS AND AWARDS:
1981 Penguin Award (presented by the Television Society of Australia for excellence in Television broadcasting) for ensemble acting in Prisoner
1982 TV Week Logie (Australian Television Industry Awards) : Silver Logie, Most popular Television Actress for 1981
TV Week Logie Award: Best Actress in a series for 1981
1983 TV Week Logie Award: Best Actress in a series for 1982
MEMBERSHIPS: Australian Actors Equity
British Actors Equity