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A mutual friend introduced Dion Johnstone and Lisa Berry.Handout

Who: Lisa Berry, 41, actor and life coach; Dion Johnstone, 45, actor

Location: Toronto

Relationship status: Together for 12 years, married for almost three. Parents for eight months.

Setting the Stage

Lisa: A mutual friend of ours wanted to introduce us and neither of us were in a space where we wanted to date. Then a year later I went into the rehearsal hall [at the Stratford Festival] and there he was. I had a full-on crush.

Dion: I was playing Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird and Lisa was in the choir. Lisa has an amazing sense of humour and she can hold court. I was interested, but I honestly didn’t know if I could keep up with her. I also had a relationship that wasn’t finished so that was a major obstruction. When the season ended, I moved to Vancouver for work in film and TV.

Lisa: We started talking on the phone. For me, that’s when we really got to know each other outside the auspices of the theatre community. When he came back into town for an audition, I said to him, “Come live with me.” My roommate thought I was crazy.

Dion: I went over to her place and we had an awkward conversation where neither one of us was saying what we were thinking. Finally Lisa broke the ice and said, “Have you ever thought of us getting together?” She listed all the reasons why it could work. I said, “Let’s do it.”

Lisa: I was like, “Oh my god, for real? Give me a second.” And I texted my roommate and said, “Don’t come home tonight.”

Second Act

Dion: That was 2008, and we were immediately a couple. We lived together for about three years and then we bought a house. We learned very quickly that we weren’t ready to be homeowners and we definitely weren’t ready to renovate. I was dividing my time between Stratford and Toronto and Lisa was doing a lot of film and TV work in Toronto.

Lisa: We realized we had to find a way to merge our lives together. So we sold our house, and moved to Vancouver while we waited for our green cards to come through. It was a year when the weather was incredible. It was like we were following the sun.

Dion: I asked Lisa to marry me on the top of Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler.

Lisa: He had scoped out these chairs that sat on a ledge, which was not easy to get to. He took my arm and kept saying, ‘I’ve got you. I’ve got you.” He’s had me ever since.

Curtain Call

Dion Johnstone said it was an instant crush when he saw Lisa Berry at the rehearsal hall.Handout

Dion: Our green cards came through and we lived in Studio City for a year. We loved our time in L.A. Then we got an offer to work in a theatre production at Soulpepper so we moved back. We got married exactly 10 years from the day we met.

Lisa: We were pregnant, and had our son, Khylin, during COVID. It turned out to be a gift. In normal times you don’t get to cocoon as a family and bond when the baby comes because life has a tendency to sweep you up. We’re older in terms when people typically have kids, it’s afforded us the opportunity to be incredibly mindful to the process. I’m so grateful to have had all this undivided time with him.

Dion: The pandemic has shifted so many things and perspective is one of them. Khylin’s clarified, for both of us, how much we have to appreciate.

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