Where and what is your current position?
I'm a professional actor appearing in the role of Eve Tessmacher on the CW's Supergirl (currently in its 4th season), and Faith Carter on Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart (currently in its 6th season). Apart from the responsibility of bringing the characters I play to life, I am also active in a variety of industry-specific areas including network and personal publicity, PR events, conventions, endorsements, and charity work.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
It's better. I've been in the industry for half of my life, and while it hasn't always been easy, It's a fantastically fun path to be on. I do want to acknowledge that there are massive challenges in this industry, and we still have a long way to go in many ways. That said, at its core, being an actor calls for one to use and challenge their creativity at all times. I have found this to be immensely rewarding and exciting.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
I obtained a graduate degree in Film Studies (often confused with Film Production). My degree required me to consider the historical, social, and theoretical implications of cinema. Not only did I strengthen my writing and research skills while in the program, but I also worked alongside a fantastic cohort of self-driven individuals (most of whom I am still close with today). I sharpened my understanding of art movements and the history of cinema, and I regularly draw upon this knowledge in my career as a performer.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I come from a long line of academics on my mother's side, and going to graduate school was something that always interested me. After majoring in English Literature and Film Studies in undergrad, I decided there was more I wanted to learn and, therefore, I applied for my MA in Film Studies. I had an interest in applying my background in performance with some of the theoretical research I had started during undergrad. I also felt that studying film would blend well with my career choice.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
Working with a talented cohort of MA students within a department that had a number of post-doctorate fellows at the time, was extremely impactful. There was a fun spirit in the department during my graduate years. My cohort pushed me to want to work hard and attend as many conferences as possible. We also worked diligently to publish the department's bi-annual Film Studies journal, Cinephile.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
I never let rejection off-set me, I see it as a challenge to make myself better. Work hard. Be kind. Be on time.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Find a way to blend your passion with your academic studies. This will serve you well in the long run.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
I nearly took five years to complete my two-year graduate degree due to work. I was bouncing between Los Angeles and Vancouver and was working hard to make career strides at the time. My advisor Lisa Coulthard and second reader Brian McIlroy were very accepting of my schedule and I am very appreciative of their willingness to accommodate this.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I started working as a professional actor at the age of fifteen. I worked in film and television throughout my undergraduate and graduate years at UBC, often having to negotiate leaves of absence in order to work and study simultaneously. I'm currently shooting my third season on Supergirl, and I just completed filming my fifth season on When Calls the Heart this fall. Each of these roles were earned through auditioning.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
Balancing my work life and my academic pursuits proved to be difficult at times, and it led to a prolonged graduate experience. My biggest challenge was my graduate thesis. I switched my topic a number of times, had a personal challenge with my first advisor, and spent a lot of time re-writing and never feeling like my ideas were complete. Looking back, I could have tackled my thesis with more confidence from the beginning, acknowledging that not all ideas have to be perfectly drawn out before one can begin writing.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Actors work alongside their agents and managers to secure auditions via the project's casting department. Some roles are put out on offer, but auditioning is still considered standard practice in film and television.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
Television production is extremely fast-paced. I am often required to think on my feet, and accept an array of last-minute changes and alterations without letting it impact my ability to perform well. I have the good fortune of working on two successful television shows (one of which shoots for four months of the year, the other shooting for ten). This can lead to a number of scheduling conflicts, reduced preparation time, and stress. I do my best to confront these challenges as best I can. It's all a part of the job description.