Congratulations on your win in the Best Lead Actress category at the Berlin International Filmmakers Festival for your lead performance in the feature Before Anything You Say! Can you tell us about that experience and role?
Thank you so much! I played Isobel in a gritty story about a husband and wife who need to navigate a difficult time in their marriage when faced with the husband’s (the brilliant Darcy Fehr) decision to take a very dangerous job overseas at the very moment they had just finished building their dream home. I loved this role – a woman caught between wanting to be independent and strong and saying: of course you can go! And, no… please don’t go. I need you. That was a wonderful continuum to play, and well… I’ll read the phone book opposite Darcy, so this felt like Christmas. That said… I was beyond scared to do it. I recall the night before the first day of shooting just actually shaking, unable to sleep. I felt I didn’t have the character yet in my bones, and I think it wasn’t until about 4am that I realized: this is it right here, this fear. Her whole world is being upended and she’s scared. But once day one rolled around… I was so beyond happy I didn’t want to go home even after hour 14.
What has been your favourite or most memorable role thus far?
I have two answers. As a lead, I have to say Passionflower. It was the most difficult role I’ve played in that she was in quite a dark place mentally and emotionally throughout, so to sustain that took a bit of a toll (suffice it to say there were some late night calls to my mom!). But maybe because of that, it was also just so magical. I’ll never forget it. But I also would say my role in We Were Children. It was a very small role (I played a nun), but I absolutely adored my character and was so moved by the scenes I got to play. I felt honoured to be a part of it.
When did you become an ACTRA member, and what was your first union gig?
I believe it was in 2004, and my first professional film role was playing Mary-Louise Parker’s sister in Vinegar Hill. Ahhhh, the joys of making a fool out of yourself because you have NO idea what’s going on. I remember Mary-Louise looking at me with curiosity and maybe a little pity… I was as green as it gets!
How has being a member of ACTRA benefited you?
In so many ways. Feeling unity and solidarity with all my fellow Canadian actors, for starters. But in Manitoba, I do feel we have a gem in Rob Macklin, who really goes to bat for us and is not afraid to speak up and advocate. It’s as simple as knowing there’s a set of rules that productions have to follow. Even when sometimes we as actors experience things that are outside the lines, we know what’s what. I think it’s a really exciting time right now with certain negative trends being exposed in the film business, and I think this is a time when we need to go back to the heart of what it means to be a union, and to really speak out and advocate for ourselves and each other.
How do you stay sharp? Do you have any training suggestions?
I haven’t tended to train a ton locally, simply because two of the best coaches (in my humble opinion) are very close friends of mine. I feel like an awful actor to ask about training, in general, because I’ve shied away from it. That said, I was trained as a classical singer for almost 20 years before I really sunk my teeth into film, and that discipline stays with me to this day. I would have never gotten on a stage to sing an Italian aria without weeks of extensive preparation, and I wouldn’t now step onto a film set without doing as much preparation as the time allows (which is often not extensive!)
Do you have any advice for other actors out there?
Bring yourself to every role you play, and have faith in yourself! (oh, and bring a book to set).