Congratulations on the work you have been getting recently. Can you tell us about your experience and role on Mr. Snowman?
Thank you. Oh my goodness, it was an absolute blast! The character I played, “Isabelle” was written as such a confident, quirky and warm person. She is completely comfortable in her own skin (and unique wardrobe) and she knows exactly who she is. It was a dream to play! The cast all got along immediately and the chemistry made it easy for us to play long time friends. The crew was amazing! Doug Mitchell, our fantastic director, was so great to work with. He really let the actors play and find the characters and connections. He knows a film set in and out and he clearly loves what he does so the energy was contagious. There was this wonderful buzz and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. It was so inspiring to watch the cast and crew take such pride in their work and showcase their artistry. Honestly, it was the most fun I’ve ever had on set.
When did you become an ACTRA member, and what was your first union gig?
My first union gig was a national Best Buy commercial in 2006. That was a very cool experience and fortunately for me, it aired a lot-even during the Superbowl! But funny enough. I only became a full member last year, even though I’ve had many permits throughout the years. I started out my acting career in Toronto and spent a lot of time between there, Vancouver and Calgary. I also travelled a lot studying and doing improv festivals so I wasn’t in one spot very long consistently. It made more sense for me at the time just to work and to get permits when I needed them. When I moved to Winnipeg, I was in a much more steady place in my life to settle and set up shop. And I am very glad I did. It has been a wonderful journey and the best career move I could have made.
How has being a member of ACTRA benefited you?
It has been so nice to be a part of such a welcoming actor community. I’ve been in Winnipeg for a little over 5 years and the people I’ve met through ACTRA Manitoba have been so supportive and helpful. I love the MIPS- it’s such a great opportunity for actors to work with and produce with other members. I have a production company with my husband (and fellow Actra Member) Aaron Merke called Royal Awesome Productions. With the MIPS we have an outlet to work with, create and showcase our content to audiences that we might not have had otherwise. The platform, support and encouragement is invaluable.
What has been your favourite or most memorable role thus far?
Well Mr. Snowman has been the most fun for sure. Hands down! Recently, I had a tiny little role and a tiny little scene on Nomis with Sir Ben Kingsley. That was surreal. He was so nice and gracious and professional. We did our little rehearsal and talked over our lines/scene beats etc. But at one point I kind left my body a little and my brain sort of froze/ realized that I was just standing there talking to THE Sir Ben Kingsley. I think I zoned out for like three seconds as my brain yelled “Oh my God!” ten times inside my head. I snapped out of it of course. I don’t think he noticed. Or if he did, I hope he thought it was some cool new hip actor’s process type thing… because you know, that’s totally what it was… : )
How do you stay sharp? Do you have any training suggestions?
Improv. Improv. Improv! I perform regularly with my improv/sketch duo Bucko. Improv really keeps your brain sharp and ready. I incorporate it when I’m reading lines, rehearsing and finding choices for my auditions. It helps you get comfortable in the character faster. It helps you feel confident and take direction easier. Even if you never perform it and just use it as a creative tool, it will help you. Taking improv classes to challenge yourself and your thinking will be a benefit, I promise!
Do you have any advice for other actors out there?
My advice would be to take as many classes from as many different people/places as often as you can. Acting, Improv, Dance, Movement, Writing-anything to get your mind firing on a different setting. When you travel to other cities, look up whether there are any weekend workshops or drop-in classes. When a guest expert comes to town, take their workshop/classes as well. Even if you love your current teacher, challenge your thinking and skill set in a new way. You will learn so much about yourself as an actor because it will show you how you make your choices and define to you, why you make them. Plus, when has learning from a new perspective ever been a bad thing? Going to places like Toronto or Vancouver or LA will show you how AMAZINGLY fortunate we are to have access to the work being produced out of Manitoba. For example, getting 3 days to learn lines is unheard of in other larger cities. We get to really take time to know a character, try out some choices and present ourselves in auditions without a frenzied prep- time crunch. We are very lucky to be here in Winnipeg. I really try to go out and appreciate the gifts we have and be inspired by all the talent and opportunity this city has to offer. Oh yeah and moisturize. Wear sunscreen. Take care of your skin, my friends. ☺