In the Member Spotlight section, ACTRA Manitoba celebrates the achievements of our Members. Please enjoy these interviews we have conducted with Members throughout the years.

When did you become involved in the industry and how? I started out doing community theatre in my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts when I was in grade 9, and after that, became heavily involved in school musicals and plays.  After I graduated from high school, I became a Theatre and Film major at The University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, MA. I earned my B.A. in June 1986 on a Saturday and moved to New York City three days later on the following Tuesday. In New York I started working as a receptionist at an interior design company and then as a waitress for about a year. Around that same time, I also started booking background work on various NYC soap operas.  I also did some commercial print work and landed a few roles in Off- Broadway plays.  Eventually, I was cast in a U.S. National commercial for “Tinactin Athletes Foot Powder”, which ran during the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup etc.; that commercial paid more than I could have ever imagined for one day’s work, so I was able to quit waitressing fairly early on, and dedicate all of my time to working as an actor. I did my research and hired the best headshot photographer in NYC at that time and got three great shots.  I then made up postcards of my headshots (a common industry tool in the days before the internet existed) and mailed one out every other day for about six months to ensure that the casting directors in New York knew who I was. I was so excited when I booked my first small speaking role on “All My Children” that I invited my friends over to watch the episode when it aired on television.  I recall recoiling in horror at…

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How has being an ACTRA member benefited you so far? A: I have gotten more roles since joining ACTRA and feel like I have more opportunities. I also got to present an award at the last ACTRA Awards, which was awesome. What do you like most about the art of acting? A: The environment – it is such a fun environment, and I love getting to pretend to be different characters. And the relationships – everyone is so kind. I have made so many friends and met so many amazing actors. Which role has been your favourite to play? A: I love them all!! Melinda Landers in the Grudge was great. I loved the stunts, the makeup and scaring people! Maeryn in The Christmas Club was also awesome because I got to dance and I love to dance. Amazing Winter Romance was so great because we got to film out at the snow maze… and I really like the movie I am working on now!! Do you have any tips for actors, whether in auditioning or after being cast? A: When you have an audition don’t worry about the lines. Just go in and do your best and then forget about it. When you get a part and are on set, be a good listener and be kind to everyone. Where do you want to be career-wise in the future? A: I would love to still be acting, maybe in New York or Hollywood! Maybe get an Oscar or a Grammy one day. I also love to sing and I’d like to be a veterinarian. February 2020…

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Congratulations on the BravoFACT grant that you received for your film Platypus! Can you tell us about the film? Thank you! Platypus is a fictional short film following Jensen Murphy (wonderfully brought to life by Nancy Sorel). Jensen, the world’s premier Human Taxidermist, struggles to find human connection as she straddles the world of the living and the dead. The film was written by Joshua Benoit and Chaz Beaudette, and produced by Jessica Gibson and Chaz Beaudette. You have been involved in creating a number of films. What was your inspiration to be a filmmaker and has being an actor influenced you as a director/producer? As a teenager I made videos with my friends in Gimli, basically emulating the CKY skateboarding videos of the early 2000s. It taught me how to create, from both sides of the camera. Being an actor has a big influence on how I direct. I find a lot of directors are sort of afraid of actors and of giving direction. Being an actor has given me a lot of confidence and ability in working with other actors. Who is a filmmaker that you admire, and why? Danishka Esterhazy. She makes the movies that she wants to make, seemingly without compromise. They’re dark and stylish and her voice shines through. I’ve worked with her as an actor a few times, and she’s very caring, clear and confident. Who is an actor that you admire, and why? Darcy Fehr. I saw him on stage a few years ago in a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, and it was the best acting I’ve seen. I’ve trained under him (as many have), and he is generous in sharing his knowledge with others who want to act. He’s humble, hardworking, sensitive and talented. When did you become an…

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Congratulations on your role in Nellie Bly! Can you tell us a little bit about the part? Also, how did you prepare for this and other auditions and for being on set? In Nellie Bly I played Nurse Grupe, a sadistic nurse in a women’s lunatic asylum in the 1800s. Grupe is part of a group of three nurses that carry out the orders of the head of the hospital, Matron Grady. Grupe is the meanest of the lot and does everything that her boss tells her to do, no matter how depraved. I initially auditioned for Matron Grady, which I prepped for days, and I was called back for Grupe with only a day’s notice. I felt underprepared for the callback because I had less time, but when I walked in the room the director Karen Moncrieff was so fantastic and just let me play. As a theatre performer, I’ve often felt restricted by the camera and having to stand on a tape line on the floor and only one actor to read with. Much of the time I feel like I’m in a straitjacket at film auditions. Karen Moncrieff was the first director who said “don’t worry about where the camera is or the reader or the tape line – you just do your thing and we will follow you”. This totally released me and I think I did the most fun audition of my life. I left the room not even caring if I got the part or not because I felt like I was given permission to be free and do what I wanted. It was very empowering. I took that spirit of freedom to the set and just stayed open to my fellow actors, the creativity of the director and stayed true to my instincts.

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Thanks for representing ACTRA members and adding your insight at our recent casting panel. You’ve had many years of on set experiences. Can you tell us how you prepare for auditions and for being on set? Acting is my job, not my hobby. Auditioning is a significant part of that job. An audition is also an opportunity to perform in front of an audience that is interested and invested! I approach auditions as seriously as any working day on set, and there’s no difference in the kind of preparation I do. My rule of thumb is “If I’m not ready to shoot, I’m not ready to audition.” I do what it takes to clear enough time to prepare, because there’s work to be done. I usually need 8 to 10 hours to prepare an audition, often more, depending on the size of the role. Sometimes that means cancelling family plans or social engagements and often giving up show tickets. Auditions don’t happen often in Winnipeg, so when they do, I make them a priority. Of course, preparation means a lot more than just memorizing lines. There’s a performance to prepare for and I don’t have 3 weeks to rehearse. I need to be efficient, without taking shortcuts. I do all the work that needs to be done: I break down the scene, I do research, I do character work, I learn an accent, if needed. I explore the scene in as many ways as possible. Then, I leave all that homework at home and do what I can to be relaxed and confident in the room. I show up on time (which means early) and I do my best to present a performance that is Active, Truthful and Connected. What has been your favourite or most memorable role thus far?…

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Congratulations on your role in Into Invisible Light! Can you tell us about that experience and character? Being on the set of “Into Invisible Light” was the most eye-opening experience. This was the most recent movie I took part in and I felt it was the production that allowed me to find new levels of confidence through my acting. I played the role of Monica Astrov: a passionately artistic teenager and very gifted dancer. She is completely invested in establishing a career in dance and although she has an innocent persona about her, she would stop at nothing to achieve these goals. From my first audition till I heard “that’s a wrap on Monica”, I was wholeheartedly invested in this production. My character was easy to love and hopefully whoever watches it will find Monica as relatable as I did! When did you become an ACTRA member, and what was your first union gig? I became an ACTRA member as an Apprentice after my first role in 2015 as a member of the Sentinals Dance Crew in the movie “Bravetown” featuring Josh Duhamel, Laura Dern and Lucas Till. Once I got a role in Season 1 of “Channel Zero” TV series and a radio commercial, I then became eligible to become a full ACTRA member at the end of 2016. How has being a member of ACTRA benefited you? Being a member of ACTRA has benefited me in many ways. Once you’ve become a member, you begin to receive information on all upcoming roles and training workshops that are offered through ACTRA. It has given me the opportunity to audition for roles and to connect with major casting directors in Winnipeg who have been so helpful in making my audition a comfortable one. I found that once the casting directors…

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