Victoria Maxwell (BFA/BPP*) is one of North America’s most sought-after speakers and educators on the ‘lived’ experience of mental illness and recov- ery, return to work and reducing mental illness’s powerful stigma. She is the first in Canada & the U.S.A. to use the ‘lived’ experience of mental illness to disseminate scientific research and transfer knowledge into action at the international level through theatre.
Her most recent show, That’s Just Crazy Talk, is endorsed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) as one of the top stigma reducing interventions for health professionals in Canada.
The show was the focus of a research study measuring the potential of a lived experience theatre piece to improve attitudes towards mental illness. Re- search results show significant reduction in stigma and increased belief in recovery from psychiatric illness.
At the age of 25, Victoria was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety and psychosis. For 5 years she refused to accept this and in turn was in and out of the hospital. Finally after acknowledging her disorders, with the help of her family and a good psychiatrist, she became proactive in her recovery.
Awards and Honors
An award-winning actress & playwright with over 20 years experience, Victoria has acted in small roles opposite big names such as David Duchovny, John Travolta and Johnny Depp. Since 2001, she has written and performed her four, critically acclaimed one-person shows about living with mental illness throughout North America and internationally. Her plays and other efforts have collectively won or been nominated
for 11 awards, including the Entertainment Industries Council PRISM Commendation Award, SAMHSA
Voice Award, Moondance International Film Festival award for best foreign stage play, finalist at the Cana- dian National Playwriting Competition, being named one of Top Ten Entrepreneurs with Disabilities.
Using her theatre background, personal experience of psychiatric illness and professional knowledge as a mental health worker, Victoria gives a unique, irreverently funny and powerful ‘insider’s’ perspective of mental illness. Victoria crafts each play and workshop to intentionally ignite dialogue, raise awareness, dis- mantle stigma and shame, inspire hope, and help families and individuals reach out for help. Further, her work assists health professionals and employers gain a better understanding of this very taboo subject. She has presented over 600 shows and 500 workshops to more than 65,000 people in 4 countries.
*Bachelor of Fine Arts / Bi-Polar Princess