All I knew prior to my career as an actress is that I wasn't shy, I talked a lot, I loved getting dressed up, and I loved to entertain!
I learned of my family's theatre history, after signing with my first agent. When I was 14, I saw an article in the newspaper auditioning new talent for their roaster and asked my dad to take me. While waiting in the agency with hundreds of other hopefuls, my dad decided to audition as well, along with my brother. We were asked to walk down this long runway, where a panel of agents would be on the receiving end critiquing if you made the cut or not.
We were successful that day and left the agency signed by the same representation! To be honest, I had a tad of jealousy in me since it was my dream to become an actress and I couldn't understand at the time why they wanted to jump on board as well.
As karma should have it, I didn't have my first audition until a YEAR after signing. During this time my dad and brother were booking TV shows, movies, commercial print modelling, you name it- they booked it. My brother was a lead on this CBC series called The Tournament. He was filming in MTL and had his own trailer, hockey lessons from NHL players, private tutors, and whatever else he wanted. Being under age at the time, my dad would have to be on set with him. They'd come back home after filming and tell the rest of the family about their adventures and I would be LIVID with jealousy. Unfortunately for my brother, we'd always get paired together to fight at karate. (Although I regret it now) I'd take out my frustration and anxious behaviour out on him in the ring ...What are little brothers for?! Love you Mikey.
When I was in grade 8, I finally got my FIRST EVER PROFESSIONAL JOB! A billboard photoshoot for Proctor and Gamble, shooting in LOS ANGELES! I was booked off my head shots, meaning I had no audition. It was a gift from the universe for being patient and for staying determined.
It was my first time ever going to LA, and it had always been on my bucket list to work in Hollywood. My dad is my favourite travelling partner and together we set off to the city of dreams! All expenses paid, business class, Chamberlin Hotel in West Hollywood, shooting in Michael Jackson's plastic surgeons house up in the hills.. it was all a dream. My dad and I stayed a while longer after the production was over to explore LA and the industry. (And of course to do every touristy attraction Hollywood had to offer)
I came back from that trip on cloud nine. Not from ego, not from fame, but from self satisfaction knowing that if I didn't clip out that newspaper article and bring it to my dad- we would not have had this life changing experience to share together. I had manifested my first job- in HOLLYWOOD and I got to bring the person who supported my dreams until they flourished.
An important factor that no one talks about regarding the TV/FILM industry is that it is a collective effort. I'm very blessed to have a team of family and friends who believe in my vision and career as much as I do. There is little logic to "show biz". You need a solid support system, a team of grounding, humbling, humans to accompany you through the unknown, and most importantly, you need genuine relationships with REAL people who love you regardless of status to be there during the good times and the bad.
The misconception that "stars" have entourages makes complete sense to me now that i've been in the biz for so long. The people you surround yourself with have a huge impact on your energy levels and your confidence. To protect and remind you that we're all just people trying to make their vision come to life. The same people you see on the way up, are the same you'll see on the way down. Treat everyone with kindness and dismiss those with negative energy. Feeding into their bad habits gives them power and a piece of your time/energy.
REJECTION is this ugly, terrifying word that I feel allergic to. Unfortunately, it is the reality of the TV/FILM world. It is an inevitable part of my world and i've learnt (through trial and error) how to best cope, although it is never a good feeling. They say for "every YES you hear, expect ten NO's."
Rejection has helped me grow into a strong, thick skinned adult, even at a young age. It keeps me on my toes and reminds me to never stop working and to lose sight of how demanding and challenging this industry really is. Truth is- i'd probably be very bored if every opportunity came easily and I didn't have to give it my all.
Rejection can be POWERFUL depending on your mindset. I've trained my thinking into not allowing the "R" word to affect me and my thoughts negatively. Instead I turn whatever situation into a lesson. If I can't learn anything from it, I use the example what NOT to repeat again. There is something to be learnt in any given scenario. It just depends on your perspective.
A few tips I can suggest when breaking into the TV/FILM industry
1- You should enjoy the craft of acting. You should love to live and breath spending time in the mindset of a character. Obsessing about every detail from how you can bring them to life and portray a genuine performance from execution to visuals.
2- You do not need to be signed to an agent to start acting. With the advanced state of technology and social media today, it has never been easier to write, film, edit and upload a project. Tape yourself, study your performance, get comfortable with your angels, voice pitch, learn to control nerves and breathing etc
3- Be VERY cautious when approaching an agency. The official union website would have a list of reputable agencies and management. You should NEVER pay an upfront fee. An agent takes 15-20% commission of each booking.
4- Know your worth. Your life will be full of exciting memories regardless of what direction you choose. Make sure you're proud of the situations and scenarios you encounter. You only have one reputation and one chance to make a first impression. Do no waste it trying to find validation through bookings. The value comes into play when determination and persistence become a natural state of being. When your mind and energy is focussed on a vision for yourself. "The second you made a decision, you change your destiny." Many people want to attempt breaking into the biz, but don't want to work for it. No one will come over and hand you that million dollar contract unless you prove that you are worth it. In your habits, ethic, manners, in your drive, in your hunger for success etc.
The projects you take on reflect you as a human, whether you like it or not. The general population has a difficult time separating characters from actors. Spend your time on this earth with purpose.
A lot of what I share in my workshops and speaking engagements are info that no one teaches. Or can teach. I had to learn first hand by throwing myself into the lions den. I somehow survived with no training or previous experience. These are my real life experiences and this is what i've learned through 10+ years of pursuing my dream life. I share less on acting technique and more on the mindset, preparation and lifestyle foundation necessary to pursue a career in SHOW BIZ!