From the time he was a baby, Victor Gilbert has been immersed into a world of full of films, acting, and make believe. Given the fact that his mother is a cinematographer, Gilbert has played child roles in several of her films and he has had the unique opportunity to test his acting skills against a number of different storylines and plots. Like most children, Gilbert loves to play pretend and he finds himself energized by the ability to play pretend for more than just enjoyment, but as a career. Playing a wide range of emotions interests him, and he thrives on the chance to explore playing different versions of “happy,” “sad,” or “mad.” For Gilbert, acting is all he’s ever known. It is a part of his family. He has grown with it and he wishes to continue to let acting grow with him for the rest of his life.
As he has aged, Gilbert has slowly branched away from filming with his mother and has begun working with esteemed production companies, directors, actors, and more. At the mere age of 10, Gilbert is taking the entertainment industry by storm and having earned such great success so early on in his life, it is intriguing to wonder where his talents will carry him next. One of his most notable works was for Netflix’s Hell on Wheels, where Gilbert played the son of a railroad worker called Jeff Strobridge, played by Reg Rogers. In this role, Gilbert had the chance to act alongside Rogers, Anson Mount, the series’ lead actor, as well as several other experienced professionals. It was a great way to expose himself to various acting styles and techniques, and since he was a recurring character, he had the opportunity to develop his character throughout each episode he acted in. Gilbert thoroughly enjoyed learning from the individuals he acted with, and submerged himself into the film’s extravagant, western-themed set. To this day, he considers it one of the highlights of his career.
Another of Gilbert’s more enjoyable projects evolved over the summer of 2016 when he aced the audition for, and won the role of Peter in the influential film, The Kiss. The Kiss tells the emotional story of a young boy, played by Gilbert, kisses another young boy at school. It is set in the 1950’s and unpacks a controversial dilemma for a mother who tries to understand what her child is going through. With the tag line, “a kiss should just be a kiss,” the film explores deep themes of love and homosexuality, and is gaining a substantial amount of praise from film festivals around the world. Being only 8 years old at the time of filming, Gilbert was unfamiliar with the emotional nature of the plot line and didn’t realize the importance of the topic in today’s society. Upon learning of meaning behind the film’s premise, Gilbert was eager to play such an impactful role. In fact, Gilbert’s character was pivotal to the The Kiss’ storyline and he set the tone for the entire film.
Gilbert credits his role in The Kiss as being the toughest he had ever played. Having to travel back in time to the 1950’s through the film’s costumes and set design was unlike anything Gilbert had ever done before. When filming, he had to act out emotionally charged scenes involving kissing another boy, being scolded by his mother, and portray feelings of fear, sorrow, and intimidation. Fortunately, Gilbert excels in any environment where he has to sell different emotions for the better of his character’s storyline. He has a remarkable ability to play multi-dimensional emotions and despite his age, he never struggled to explore a new emotion when asked. David Emmanuel, who both produced and acted in The Kiss, has nothing but respect for Gilbert’s natural affinity to play his characters as realistically and organically as possible. He was astonished to see an actor as young as Gilbert displaying qualities that even some of the most established professionals have not yet mastered.
“Victor had a very, – I cannot stress it enough – very difficult scene to act at such a young age. He had to pretend to have kissed a boy in school, to dress up, to wear lipstick, and more. Still, he did an amazing job and was so right for the role. He was extremely patient and open-minded for this movie. Not to mention, he was very professional on set for such a young age. He listened to the director very well and was open to giving his input whenever he didn’t feel comfortable,” noted Emmanuel.
If you ask Gilbert, however, the film simply helped him tell an important story to the world and he was happy to have had the opportunity. Even he himself was moved by his character’s strength and determination. To play such an integral character at such a young age is a rare feat for any child actor and he hopes to be able to do so again in future.
“I think the story of this film is important because there are tons of people who are still too shy to love another person of the same gender. I think these kinds of films help these people come forward. It is so important to respect people for who they are. Films have a big impact on people and they can influence generations,” told Gilbert.
Upon wrapping The Kiss, it made its way to several prestigious film festivals in Orlando, Los Angeles, Brazil, Cannes, Germany, Sweden, and many more. Gilbert, along with everyone else involved in the film, are excited to see where else The Kiss will go and how many more lives they can touch with this incredible story.
Even at the age of 12, Anna Pniowsky understands that choosing to pursue a career as an actress would not be worth doing for the wrong reasons. It is a cutthroat field to work in and if you wish to become an actress for glamor or fame, it is unlikely that you will be able to withstand the pressure and the challenges that you will be faced with. Pniowsky knows that becoming an actress involves a type of perseverance that most individuals will never require in their lifetimes. She is always on her game, ready for any audition, callback, or role that she is tasked with. On top of that, she has mastered the ability to look self-doubt in the face and turn it away. Her love for acting transcends any obstacle that she comes across and by believing in herself and surrounding herself with people who support her dreams, she has no doubt that she will be acting for years to come.
“If you feel that acting is truly in your blood, remember the well-known adage – it is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of auditions before you book something. You will feel self-doubt and you will want to give up, but if you truly love it, you can push forward. You just have to believe in yourself,” told Pniowsky.
Despite her age, Pniowsky has earned herself a breadth of experience and training in her field. Just this past year, she landed the lead role in a film written, directed, and starred in by Oscar-winning actor Casey Affleck. The film, Light of My Life, is a drama about a father (played by Affleck) and his daughter (played by Pniowsky) who live on the outskirts of a society that was destroyed by a pandemic ten years ago. Buzz about Pniowsky’s role in the film is already gaining traction as being a career-defining moment for the talented young actress and audiences everywhere are eager to see what happens when it premieres.
Prior to filming Light of My Life, Pniowsky won the role of Kayla in Sony Screen Gems’ horror film, He’s Out There. He’s Out There depicts the terrifying tale of a mother and her two daughters who take a vacation to a remote lake house and wind up being tormented by a murderer in the woods. In the film, Pniowsky acted alongside celebrated actress Yvonne Strahovski, as well as her little sister, Abby. She was paramount to the film’s storyline and appears in the entire duration of the film. In order to play her character as convincingly as possible, Pniowsky endeavored to master multiple different ways of appearing frightened. Since her character is scared throughout the entirety of the film, she felt it was very important to develop her character to be dynamic and she avoided appearing one-dimensional at all costs. With that, she developed various different levels of fear that she could transition back and forth between, depending on the intensity of the scene. In doing so, she created a character that audiences can relate to, and ideally, will identify with as they embark upon the journey that the film aims to take them on.
The film’s director, Dennis Iliadis, could not have been more pleased with Pniowsky’s performance. Knowing that the quality of the film rested entirely on the performance of his cast, he was determined to find actresses that could emulate the mood of the film directly into its audience. When asked about Pniowsky’s performance, Iliadis had the following to say:
“Anna was phenomenal to work with. For such a young age, she’s an actress of incredible intelligence, sensibility and instinct. I have never worked with a young actor or actress who is so hard working, disciplined and focused. We had a very emotionally demanding and technically difficult shoot but in those very challenging conditions, Anna gave a great performance in a role of strenuous physicality and very complex and heightened emotions. Even in the most difficult situations, Anna was always prepared, always ready to go. She really made the rest of us up our game.”
After wrapping He’s Out There, Pniowsky gained a new appreciation for the horror film genre. Most mainstream horror films today have one goal and that is to terrify an audience. It is rare, however, to be able to act in a horror film with an underlying moral compass. Pniowsky was fortunate enough to be able to identify the deeper meanings that the story tells. Not only is it a story that highlights the unrelenting strength of a mother’s love for her children, it also does an excellent job of emphasizing a journey of personal growth in Pniowsky’s character. She found herself inspired by the presence of strong, female characters in the film and feels that young girls can learn a lot from Kayla’s will and determination to survive. She loved seeing strong female characters taking charge and fighting hard for what they believe in. It is a message that women of all ages can carry with them beyond the film and into their own personal lives and Pniowsky was honored to be able to play a role in helping foster that movement.
Maryanne Emma Gilbert discovered her calling at a young age. She didn’t know she would fall in love with performing, but she saw her mother on film and thought she wanted to try it. As a shy child, there was a lot that could go wrong. But that is how she knew what she was meant to do; when she stepped onto the stage to perform in her first play, the nerves and shyness melted away, and a star was born.
Now, those days of camera shyness seem like a distant memory, even though the Calgary-born actress is only seven-years-old. Her career has taken off, and she is recognized around the country as being one of the best for her age. She has been nominated for two Joey Awards recognizing her acting abilities, and she has performed in commercials for Doritos and Canadian Tire. She has appeared in films such as Jewel Fools, Season’s Greetings, and the upcoming science-fiction flick Space Rippers.
“Acting is super awesome because I make tons of super cool new friends. Also the food is good. And people are really nice. And I like to tell my family to watch me in movies,” she said.
Despite all of this success, for Gilbert, the highlight of her young but blossoming career was when she appeared in a Canadian nationwide McDonalds commercial. The commercial appeared during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and millions of Canadians began to see Gilbert’s face regularly in their living rooms.
“My whole family in Quebec saw me at every Olympics commercial. My grandpas and grandmas said they saw me all the time at the Olympics commercial. They called me. So I got to talk to my grandparents, and my cousins and aunts and uncles too. They said they saw me. Even a stranger we were talking to recognized us, that was funny,” said Gilbert. “Also, my dad loves to eat McDonalds. He would eat there every day if he could. Also, there was a cow named cupcake.”
The commercial is one of McDonalds’ campaigns trying to show canadians that their food is Canadian. This one was Alberta beef. The commercial features a group of children going to a local farm to learn about cows.
“We got to learn how the beef gets to our plate at mcdonalds and how the cows are treated and where the cows live. We meet the cows and the farmer and we run in the field. There were many things I did not know. It was interesting to see cows. I live in the city and rarely see cows that close,” said Gilbert.
During the commercial, the children follow around the farmer and run around in a field. The director, Tom Feiler, was impressed with Gilbert’s natural instincts as a performer. At one point, when she was supposed to be running around the field with the other children, Gilbert stopped to pick up some flowers, a moment that made it into the final cut and one of the highlights of the commercial.
“I only wanted the best and brightest young actors to be part of the shoot. What struck me the most about Maryanne was her ability to provide a lively performance, while still maintaining a great degree of focus, which increased the productivity of the other kids as well,” said Feiler. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to have directed Maryanne in her leading role.”
Even though she had to battle the cold weather that occurred the day of the shoot, Gilbert’s professionalism and genuine passion for what she is doing shines on screen. For her, it isn’t about just getting to try new things and learn something, it is about who she is with along the way.
“I love meeting new friends. This commercial was with other kids. I met a good friend, Victoria. The other kids were super nice. The crew was really nice too. It was not easy as it was cold that day but everybody was still really nice,” she said. “Also we got to run around lots. I like to run. And it was great to discover a farm. I don’t have one.”
You can see Gilbert in the McDonalds commercial here.
Many people spend their lives working in a job that brings them little happiness. It takes many years to figure out what they are meant to do. Those graduating high school face a decision as to how they want to spend their lives, and few that age can figure it out. This is where Kyle Meagher is the exception. While growing up in Ottawa, it was evident what he was meant to do, and he started doing at the age of ten. Now, four years later, Meagher stands among Canada’s best young actors.
Audiences have had the pleasure of watching Meagher in an assortment of national commercials, web campaigns, award-winning television programs, and feature films. And even with a successful career under his belt by his teens, he has no plans on slowing down. This past year, he was able to secure a role in the short film The Big Crunch, alongside Peter DuCunha (12 Monkeys), Jennifer Robertson (Schitt’s Creek), and Chris Gibbs (The BFG). He also got to work with his friend Sam Ashe Arnold (The Adventure Club).
“This was a cool short film to work on because they added a bunch of special effects and used a new, very expensive camera that helped make the special effects possible. I was really excited to see what it would turn out to look like,” said Meagher.
The Big Crunch, by Inflo Films, is produced by Harry Cherniak, and written and directed by Dusty Mancinelli. Meagher was excited to work alongside them, as he had heard of their great reputation of making award-winning films. It looks like The Big Crunch will follow the same trend, as it is already making its way to many film festivals.
“I love hearing about the festivals the film is going to and seeing the press about it. Harry and Dusty are great film makers and they deserve the recognition for the amazing work they do,” said Meagher.
The film follows 12-year-old August (DaCunha), who suffers an existential crisis about his place in the world after learning the universe will one day collapse in an epic Big Crunch. Nothing can shake August out of his depressive state, not even celebrating his birthday six months early. But when August is accidentally electrocuted after changing a light bulb, he has a magnificent cosmic experience. During an intense game of dodgeball at school, August suddenly unearths his own magical powers and goes on an extraordinary adventure of self-discovery. With his newfound understanding of the universe, August stands up to his bully and goes after the girl of his dreams.
“In this film, it was a great build up to a climax where August kisses the girl he has been admiring. It’s amazing to watch the character go from a very forlorn and sad child to one that sees the world in a completely new way. The scenes were fun to shoot, we spent some time outdoors and running around a school,” said Meagher.
The film made its world debut at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax in September, and quickly headed to the Edmonton International Film Festival right afterwards. Audiences get to see Meagher play a role completely unlike himself: a bully. He and his friends are known as the “Goons” and bully August throughout the film.
“I am totally opposite to the bully, but I can relate to the role because I have been bullied before myself, and I simply channel what I’ve seen into a character,” said Meagher.
Throughout his career, Meagher has played the character of a bully many times. His experience makes his performance not only believable, but outstanding. However, those he works with find it interesting to watch him take on roles that are so different to his real-life personality.
“Kyle’s a really great guy, so it’s fun to see him play such a jerk,” said Sam Ashe Arnold, who played Elvis, August’s archenemy in the film. “Kyle is funny and nice to everyone, and he’s always professional and well prepared. That’s pretty much exactly the kind of person you hope to get cast with. He’s a great actor partly because he has such an expressive face, with big eyes and a big smile, but it’s mostly because he’s smart and he really listens and takes direction,” said Sam Ashe Arnold.
Arnold played the main bully in the film, and had worked with Meagher previously, but it was on this production that they truly became friends. They are both from Ottawa, so they attend auditions together, and hope to work together again soon.
“Sam and I are with the same talent agency and we spend time together so it was neat to actually get to work with him on set,” said Meagher. “I also met Peter DuCuhna for the first time who is a great actor that has a lot of experience.”
Despite having a lot of experience himself, the role also provided a unique learning experience for Meagher.
“There was a stuntman who taught Peter how to jump out the window for a scene – and it was the first time I had been with a stuntman on set,” he concluded. “It opened my eyes a bit more about safety and was interesting to see what they teach!”
Audiences will have the opportunity to see The Big Crunch later this year. Bell Media will be putting it on the BravoFact website.
Samuel Faraci is a widely up-and-coming Toronto born, Los Angeles-based child actor who’s super successful at what he does. Represented by CESD Talent Agency and PALLAS Management Group, at just ten years old, Faraci already has a lengthy framework of professional experience, his credits including “Saving Hope,” “PAW Patrol,” “Antisocial 2,” “Hannibal,” “Odd Squad,” and “Super Why!” to name a few. Since November of 2015, he has received eight award nominations among three different ceremonies. He won in all of them, for the same role and show, his portrayal of “Henry” on the hit TV series “Saving Hope.”
Airing on CTV Television Network and ION Television, “Saving Hope” is a supernatural medical drama that follows the lives of the nurses and doctors of Hope Zion Hospital. Faraci’s character Henry is a spirit among the hospital, who wanders around without knowing that he is already dead. “He is looking for his body with the help of a doctor who can communicate with ghosts. He feels himself in other children who received his organs until he finds the girl who received his heart, and realizes he died,” Faraci elaborated.
For this role, Faraci won A Joey Award in 2015 for “Best Actor in a TV Drama Guest Starring Role Age 6-9 Years.” Most recently in 2016, he won in Los Angeles a Young Artist Award for “Best Performance in a TV Series – Guest Starring Young Actor (10 or Under),” and a Young Entertainer Award for “Best Guest Starring Young Actor 11 and Under – TV Series” for the same role.
Faraci was additionally nominated for three other Joey Awards in 2015 in the categories of “Best Actor in a TV Comedy Guest Starring Role” for his work on the series “Odd Squad,” “Best Male Voiceover Performance Age 7-9 Years” for “Super Why!” and “Best Actor in a Feature Film Supporting/Principal Role Age 7-9” for the film “Antisocial 2.” Similarly, he was nominated for a second Young Artist Award in 2015 for “Best Performance in a TV Series – Guest Starring Young Actor 10 and Under” for his work on “Hannibal,” as well as a second Young Entertainer Award in 2016 for “Best Recurring Young Actor 13 and Under – Television Series” for “Odd Squad.”
The award-winning actor started his career at the young age of five auditioning for commercials, booking his first official acting job by the age of six. “My first job was an appearance in a kids show called “JiggiJump.” I had to stand up, sit down and smile during a rollercoaster themed song. It was fun,” Faraci said.
Contrastingly, Faraci’s work on “Saving Hope” was quite dramatic, ultimately allowing him to showcase his talents as an actor in a different light. “All of the scenes were very emotional,” Faraci explained. “It gave me the opportunity to explore Henry’s perspective of not being able to hug his parents or talk to his friends anymore.”
In order to successfully understand this character, Faraci explained that he really had to use his five senses in order to experience everything that was going on around him and fully embody Henry. “Every actor has a different process, I have to think about things that I’ve experienced in the past so that you can relate to your character,” said Faraci.
Faraci performed all of his scenes with actor Michael Shanks (“Burn Notice,” “Smallville” and “Stargate SG-1”) who plays Dr. Charlie Harris on “Saving Hope.” Well-known director Gregory Smith (“Arrow,” “Rookie Blue” and “DC Legends of Tomorrow”), who was a child actor himself, directed the episode and played a key role in Faraci’s success as Henry. “He guided me through the process of expressing the emotions required for the role,” Faraci detailed. “He told Henry’s story in a very moving way.”
Behind the scenes, Faraci fondly recalled learning about the different medical instruments in the faux but ever-so-real looking hospital set of Hope Zion Hospital. “It surprised me that every single piece of medical equipment on set is real and can be operated,” he said.
Furthermore, the show provided him with a memorable experience regarding the magic of makeup. “Something happened before the second day of shooting,” Faraci recollected. “I fell down at school and my lip was swollen, but makeup fixed it perfectly. It’s really amazing what they can do.”
While some of his favorite actors consist of Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves, Faraci’s family initially influenced him to take up acting. “I think the love for acting runs in the family,” Faraci commented. “My great-grandfather was an opera singer and his brother was an actor at Cinecitta in Rome. They inspired me to start acting.”
Evidently, the career choice suits the multitalented child actor, who’s already experienced the joy of winning multiple awards for his work. Despite feeling a great sense of accomplishment while accepting all of his awards, Faraci stated, “I was also surprised because I was competing against very talented young actors who also deserved to win.”
Nevertheless, he added, “I keep these awards in my bedside table to remind me of my journey, and to motivate me to train more and improve my technique. I love to learn!”
Faraci will be playing both supporting and principal roles in three upcoming feature films, “Country Crush,” “One Drop” and “The Headhunter’s Calling,” all making their debut in 2016. Furthermore, he’ll be the voice of character Liam McLoud in a new Nickelodeon animation series titled “Rusty Rivets,” premiering this summer.
At 11-years-old actor Richard Davis has already accomplished more in the entertainment industry than many actors ever will. In the past three years he’s received four Young Artist Award nominations for his work on the films The Comeback Kid, Brothers and To Look Away and the award-winning series Kid’s Town.
While it’s undeniable that the kid has a face that could melt the heart of the Grinch, Davis has a lot of other things going for him besides just being ridiculously cute. For starters, his emotional range is astonishing, and not just for someone of his age but for an actor of any age. He understands the process of character development and knows exactly when and how to deliver the necessary comic relief or high-intensity dramatic moments within a scene. What is even more impressive though, is his knowledge of the world around him and the manner in which he speaks.
A speed-reader who actually competes in book competitions like the Battle of the Books, a competition that he won with his team earlier this year, Davis loves a good story. And, one of the reasons he loves acting, and has become so good at it, is because it allows him to become part of the story bringing characters to life on the screen.
Audiences across Canada and the U.S. will recognize Richard Davis from his roles on the popular television shows Good Dog, The Ron James Show, Murdoch Mysteries and Copper, as well as the films A Family Way, Hazel & Elwood, Amalgamations, Full Out and many more. The young actor recently wrapped production on the film Shahzad, which will be released on BravoFact in August of 2016, as well as Psychic Playground which will be available very soon.
To find out more about Richard Davis make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about his work through his IMDb page.
Where are you from and how old are you?
RD: I was born near Toronto, Ontario and I am currently 11 years old. Although at four years of age, I tested in the 99.9 percentile for oral I.Q. and could read encyclopedias, it wasn’t always easy for me. I was considered a ‘miracle’ when I was born and I had my challenges. My mom’s pregnancy was eventful and I was a premature baby that had to be intubated when I was born. I lived in three hospitals before coming home for the first time. I was followed by specialists for the first year until they discovered I was communicating in full sentences and starting to read using Baby Sign Language through American Sign Language. Eventually, my tongue caught up to my brain and there was no stopping me.
When and how did you get into acting?
RD: I was always curious. I wanted to learn about everything around me. I would ask questions and I would read everything I could get my hands on. When I had questions related to how something was made, my mom always said, ‘the best person to answer my questions were the people that worked in that area of expertise’…so we went on a lot of field trips. Even when we went shopping, I would ask about the products in the store and how everything, “operated”. After I learned about the products, I would proceed to play a ‘salesperson’ while my mom shopped. My mom would often apologize to the customers for me bothering them, but everyone seemed quite happy by it. Well, one day, I happened to try and sell lights in a lighting store to a gentleman, who turned out to be George Pastic, an Oscar nominated director for the film The Violin in 1975. Not only did George take me under his wing, but he became my mentor and friend, along with his wife Eleanor. Sadly, George and his wife tragically passed away in the fall of 2014 and I will always miss them.
What is it like having such a successful career at such a young age?
RD: It’s pretty cool to have people come up to me and say ‘Hey, are you that guy in the movies?’ It’s nice to be recognized for doing what you enjoy. I actually feel very fortunate that I have found something that I love to do at such a young age. Most people go through their lives trying to find out what it is that they want to do when they grow up. I love having the opportunity to be in front of the camera and bring a new character to life. One of the things I love to do most is to read a great book; the bigger, the better. When I get a new script, it’s like opening up a new book. The best part is that I get to be one of the characters in that book. When a script is based on a novel, I usually read the script and novel to get a full understanding of the character. Being a speed reader really comes in handy when you only have 24 – 48 hours to prepare for the audition.
Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?
RD: I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play many exciting roles. When I was 5 years old, I landed a recurring role on Ken Finkleman’s comedy HBO series Good Dog. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with some very talented professionals over the course of the series. The series followed George, played by Ken Finkleman, a self-absorbed producer whose new reality show is in danger of being taken off the air. George is forced to liven the atmosphere of his life due to the network’s demands, so he asks his young model girlfriend, Claire, played by Lauren Lee Smith, to move into his house, but he doesn’t realize that means Claire’s son, my character, would also be moving in– along with my sister, nanny and our pet Rottweiler. George was often in the dog house.
I have also enjoyed filming on shows such as Murdoch Mysteries, set in the early 1900’s, as Finn Hopkins on the episode “Midnight Train to Kingston.” I will be careful about saying too much about this episode as I know that this show is played in many different countries around the world. I need to be careful so I do not give away any spoilers. I also played the role of Buzz in a black and white webisode for the television series Lost Girl. I thought it was cool to have my hair shaved to reflect my character Buzz’s name, and it was awesome wearing clothes from around the 1950’s. I love the wardrobe departments on shows like Murdoch Mysteries and Lost Girl. I’ve also had fun voicing with Ron James; I voiced Petey on The Ron James Show. Ron is such a nice person who is very intelligent and has a big heart. It was a real pleasure to work with him at CBC in Toronto.
I have also enjoyed playing the role of Brian Jr. on the web-series Kid’s Town, which is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Ameba TV, Hulu, and Vimeo on Demand. Kid’s Town is a family show, and I play the next-door neighbor to the new kid in town. He befriends me in part, because we have the same name, and because I have no friends until he moves in, due to my big list of allergies. I enjoyed playing the character of Brian Jr. because I was the comedic relief in the show. I loved the writing in the series, and I must admit that I seemed to luck out with getting some of the best lines. I’m looking forward to doing more comedy in the future and creating more characters…Perhaps one with a British accent next time, as I love playing with accents.
For four years in a row, I won the lead role from the most prestigious university film programs in Canada. For one role, it was a two-hander where I played the lead role of Oliver in To Look Away. For this role, it involved filming late into each night in ridiculously below freezing temperatures. I also played the lead role of Max in the film Brothers, which landed me my fourth Young Artist Nomination. I also played the younger lead character of Damian in Amalgamations, which ended up screening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Courts Metrages in 2013.
Another memorable role that I was nominated for a Young Artist Award and loved playing was “The Comeback Kid”. I played the lead character of Boniface Domingo Brantley who is The Comeback Kid and goes by the nickname Bo. Bo is an 11-year-old boy whose only friend happens to be an imaginary luchador named M the Minotaur. Bo and M spend their days flying model airplanes. Well, one day an aspiring pilot named Susie shoots down their aircraft and she feels so bad that she invites them to her birthday party, the first birthday Bo or M have ever been invited to. Bo doesn’t like change and he’s never been good at making decisions, but he is forced to transform and come out of his shell when his parents announce that they are separating. Even though the story was written for an 11 year old, I was only 7 when I won the lead role of Bo.
My most challenging lead role to date would be Hazel & Elwood. I played the lead role of Elwood at 6 years of age in Hazel & Elwood, a film that revolves around a family stricken with tragedy.
I found myself in some precarious situations in Hazel & Elwood, like derailing an entire train by placing pennies on the tracks…from my little purse dressed as a girl. The challenging part was wearing those Mary Jane shoes – wow! They are not meant to fit boys feet! Plus, I learned what girls had to go through with a crinoline, nylons and dress if they had to go to the restroom! You girls do not have it easy! Truth be told…all great actors have put on a dress. Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Charlie Chaplin, just to name a few.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
RD: Quite honestly, my love of acting made me eager to participate in every project I completed. It has only been due to prior bookings that I have had to turn down an audition or role.
What has been your favorite role so far and why?
RD: Wow…this is a difficult question, because I have loved so many roles. I would have to say that I loved being on the set of Copper as a street kid that was up to mischief. There was talk of where my character could be possibly headed on this show, but unfortunately the series was cancelled at the end of Season 2. It was an amazing set though with incredibly talented individuals from the show runner Tom Kelly on down. After my first day of filming, I spent an hour or two touring the set and learning how it all came together. This was another set where people were so nice and willing to teach me. It is definitely an experience that I will always treasure.
Another favourite role of mine was one I just completed; a Bravo Fact funded film called Shahzad. Shahzad is about an 11 year old Pakistani boy who moves to Toronto, and has to deal with transitioning into a foreign world. I played the role of Richie, a classmate that becomes Shaz’s best friend over the course of his first school year in Canada. The role was a favourite of mine because of the storyline and people involved in the project. It is a short story that I am told has already garnered attention to turn into a full length featured film, which I hope it does so I can read and see more of the story.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
RD: I am up for the challenge of any role that is presented to me by my agent. However, if I had the choice to pick one over another, I would say that I love a good story with great writing. Having said that, I also love a film where the director allows me to add improv to the story, like my last film Shahzad. It’s the best when you can just be free to express what is truly in your heart and mind and play within a scene. What I think I loved best about my last film was that the other actors in my scenes were able to follow along with me in the improv. That’s when the most natural moments are born on film.
Have you done any commercials?
RD: Yes, I have. In fact, I was recently nominated for a Joey Award for my favourite commercial, which was a PSA for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Canada. I am most proud of this spot as the focus of the campaign was to promote fun ways to find money to donate to a very worthy cause. I have also done many commercials for companies such as McDonald’s, Maytag, Sears, KFC, Spinmaster Toys, Sprout T.V. etc. One commercial I did for Hasbro involving Play-Doh when I was 4 years old, is still continuing to collect views on YouTube. I find it quite interesting to hear the theme song being played in the commercial in so many different languages around the world. I have also done some voice over radio and television commercials for car companies and Robin Hood Flour.
You’ve also performed in several theater productions—can you tell us about your work in the theatre?
RD: When I was younger, I used my theatre productions as a way of training for television and film. When I first began in the industry, I was only 4 years of age. With my exceptional reading and memorization skills, I needed an outlet. Being involved in the theatre gave me the opportunity to develop my confidence and acting skills through performing monologues on stage to an audience. I also had the opportunity to work together with a group of people to act in stage performances.
Do you have a preference for performing on stage or on camera?
RD: I love my improv class and the immediate response I receive from the audience. However, I do tend to enjoy television, film and voice over more than theatre for one reason; I love the newness of the scripts. With being an avid reader, I really do love being able to be a part of that new adventure. I find it exciting and I look forward to every new opportunity that comes along in the business.
Is it overwhelming at times to be receiving so much recognition for your work so early on? How do you balance being a kid with having a career?
RD: I had a great role model with George. When he discovered me in the lighting store when I was three years old, I had no idea he had been nominated for an Oscar. He had many other awards as well for his work that George never displayed. After I knew both he and his wife Eleanor for quite some time, he shared with me that he had the awards on display at first. However, over the years he realized that the awards were not important. I learned a great deal from George. He was always so humble, that it was not even himself that informed me of all his success. As my mom often says, the most important role I will play is myself, and George exemplified this well.
I balance being a kid with having a career with just that…making time to be a kid. The fact that I love what I am doing makes it rather easy. I am happiest when I am on set, therefore it doesn’t feel like work to begin with. However, my parents make sure that there is a healthy balance between acting, schoolwork, family, friends, activities and sleep. Two years ago, I tried the “gifted program.” Although I managed to get great marks, my parents decided it was not a healthy balance for me as the focus was ‘pace’ and I craved ‘depth.’ With having extra assignments added into my schedule, my parents felt that the ‘fun’ factor was missing from my life. Each person is different and so are their circumstances; and for me, the perfect solution was to switch back to my regular school and begin part-time homeschooling for the core subjects. This enables me to dig deep into the subjects that I crave and be with homeschoolers for events like the advanced Battle of the Books, while still having the social experience of both worlds.
Which actors do you look up to, and why?
RD: I admire many actors and their work. The actors that stand out for me though are ones like George Clooney who are philanthropists and are willing to go out on a limb for what they stand for. I have always been a believer of giving back from a very early age. I know that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to do something that I love in life and get paid for doing it. My own brother was adopted from an orphanage, and it bothered me when I saw the pictures of the children not having a proper playground to play in. For two years, I saved up my money and built a nice playground for the children who were left behind. I also helped out some families financially in our community who were suffering due to cancer and sent a girl to camp who had just lost her father. I think it’s important to give back when you can, and my acting has allowed me to do some good things for others.
I also admire Tom Hanks. I loved some of his films such as Big, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. I hope to have the opportunity to work with Mr. Hanks one day as well as Adam Sandler and Kevin James, to name a few.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
RD: I love all genres of acting as each area brings out something new for me to learn. However, I must admit that I love comedy. I find that there is so much sadness and tragedy in the world. Unfortunately, with being such an early reader, I learned this at a younger age than I should have. Thankfully, I learned about most of it from reading and not personal experience. My one wish for this world would be to have all of the wars end and have everyone get along. The other wish would be to make everyone happy and laugh. I can’t make wars end, but I can make people laugh through acting in comedies. Therefore, Comedy would be my answer. I would also love to be a host on a game show or an educational show.
What separates you from other actors?
RD: Casting Directors have told me that the one thing that separates me from other actors is my ability to follow directions at such a young age. I was in a workshop for my union in Canada where I performed a mock audition for Los Angeles Casting Director Krisha Bullock (ICarly, Victorious, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger) and Larissa Mair Casting (Degrassi, Life with Boys, What`s Up Warthogs!). They gave me three re-directions and I nailed all three in the next take in front of everyone. They both told me that even adults have a hard time achieving this and I was only 8 years old at the time. They held up my headshot at the end of my audition and told the audience to watch out for me as I was going to be famous.
What projects do you have coming up, or have you recently finished filming?
RD: My next film where I play the lead role of Dez in Psychic Playground will be available on Vimeo before the end of the year. Psychic Playground is a dark comedy film about an inventive kid who turns show and tell into a disaster. I am excited to see this project when it’s finished, as the director was very artistic with my “Invention”.
You will also soon be able to find me playing the role of Richie in the film release of Shahzad on the Bravo Fact Channel. I had a great time on Shahzad with the lead character played by Yatharth Bhatt (Combat Hospital) and another supporting character, Filip Geljo (Odd Squad).
I am very proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such an inspirational feature film called, Full Out. It recently debuted in California on NBC and on the Family Channel in Canada. Full Out has become my top film to recommend to everyone, and is based on the true life story of California gymnast Ariana Berlin, who made an inspirational comeback after a devastating accident. I play a young boy who has also been in an accident and is going through his own recovery. The film stars Ana Golja, (Degrassi) and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). I had a wonderful time filming with Ana Golja, Ariana Berlin, Ashanti Bromfield and Jacqueline Byers.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
RD: The short answer is I got discovered and I love it and I don’t want to quit. The long answer is I love to be in front of the camera. It’s the best feeling in the world. I simply love to analyze and learn. In acting, you are constantly analyzing the other character’s behavior and responding to it. I remember in first grade, a child had cut her hair in my class. I came home and said, “I’m not sure if my teacher was upset with the whole class for the incident happening, with whoever did it, or herself as a teacher for not being able to stop it from happening.’ I was six years old at the time. My mom said if I ever stopped acting, I could become a psychologist. I have come to realize that the writing of scripts and acting incorporates psychology.
I also think that there is something to be learned from every role I perform. Sometimes it’s within the material that I am studying for the role. For example, with Hazel & Elwood, with the movie being about trains, I loved that I could look up the trains within the script and learn about them. The same is true about the biplanes in The ComebackKid. I also meet a lot of interesting people on set with so much knowledge to offer. Acting is really the best job in the world. I don’t know any other job that allows you to do something different every day and to continually learn.
If you weren’t an actor, what other profession do you think you would like to have in the future?
RD: I would love to become a writer and director so I would never be out of work as an actor. I think it would also be wonderful to be a teacher to students who want to learn. I would love to teach drama, history and geography.
What are your hobbies outside of performing?
RD: I have a few close friends that I like to spend time with, and I love spending time with my family. I love horseback riding, downhill skiing, swimming and biking, just to name a few. I’m a real history and geography enthusiast as well. I recently participated in a Battle of the Books competition where I read 25 novels ranging up to Adult fiction and non-fiction a few times each. Our team held practices weekly as we really needed to know specific details in the books. Our team did extremely well and we won the competition. I give kudos to the second place team as well as they were a great challenger.
I love reading so much that I read books on the side leading up to the competition. Some were part of a series in the Battle, and I found myself getting hooked on them. Even though the Harry Potter Series was not part of the Battle, I’m also on my 6th time reading that series and still enjoy it. A highlight for me this year was to travel to Cleveland, Ohio to see Potted Potter. For any Harry Potter fans out there, I recommend the show.
I enjoy going to the movies and the theatre to watch other actors perform. Another favourite thing to do is to spend time building Lego with my brother, Alexander. We have a rule in our house. When we get a new Lego set, we have to put it together correctly the first time. After that, we get to be creative and change it up to whatever we want it to be. My little brother is so creative, so it’s a challenge to keep up to him. He’s also followed in my footsteps with acting, so we enjoy singing, or doing improv together with different accents that we pick up from YouTube videos that we watch. We have a really good time together.
Often times the most successful child actors have more than just talent and a lovable face on their side they also have the ability to play characters much younger than they really are. In the same way that adult actors play high school kids—for instance, when 29-year-old Stacy Dash played 16-year-old Dionne in Clueless, and Leonardo DiCaprio played 16-year-old Frank Abangale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can at the age of 28, the capacity to believably portray younger characters has been integral to the success of many of the world’s most famous actors.
At 15-years-old Australian actor Caleb McClure has already achieved a level of notability in the entertainment industry that most actors can only dream of. To date McClure has taken on a slew of incredibly challenging characters in films including A View from Below, Zero, Arrival, A View From Bellow, I Am Evangeline and the upcoming film The Legend of Ben Hall, as well as the five-time Logie Award winning series Underbelly.
McClure’s ability to play younger characters is an undeniable asset, but what makes him so extraordinary is the way he brings his characters to life, especially considering many of his projects have been heavy hitting dramas based on true stories.
In 2013 McClure took on the role of Young Sylas, a 10-year-old boy whose life is changed forever after a mysterious object falls from the sky, in the multi-award winning film Arrival. McClure also played the starring role of Leopold, a young elementary school kid who struggles to hide that he’s HIV positive from the world in the film Where is Mum?, directed by Chantal Denoux, who received the World Medal from New York Festivals for her documentary My Home: Your War.
Although McClure has proven his ability to portray younger characters with ease, those aren’t the only roles he gets cast in, and his malleable age range has definitely helped him create the dazzling repertoire of work he is known for today.
In the film Holding The Man, which was released in Australia earlier this year and garnered the Awgie Award from the Australian Writer’s Guild, McClure took on the dramatic role of a young teen named Nick, the younger brother of Tim Conigrave. McClure brought an astonishing level of emotion to the role, which definitely helped drive the dramatic aspects of the story in the film.
With wit, wisdom and an emotional capacity that is well beyond his years, Caleb McClure is definitely one actor that you will want to keep your eyes out for. To find out more about his projects, what drives his performances, and how he balances being a regular kid with being an international film star, check out our interview below! You can also find out more about Caleb McClure through his IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3899794/
LG: Where are you from and how old are you?
CM: I am 15 and I’m originally from Sydney, but I reside in Melbourne Australia.
LG: When and how did you get into acting?
CM: I started modeling for magazines and commercials when I was 4; and I landed my first film role when I was 8. The film was called Fairlight and I played the role of James. After that I landed the leading roles in over 15 short films, and I played very different characters in each one.
My parents saw that I could follow direction from the director and how much I loved to grab a script and was committed to learning lines and developing my character.
LG: What is it like having such a successful career at such a young age?
CM: I absolutely love it and the feeling I get when I’m on set is like my own little world that I can transform.
LG: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the film and television projects you’ve done?
CM: In the film The Legend of Ben Hall, which is set in the 1800s and centers on the life of Ben Hall, an Australian bushranger who robs people and forms a gang, I played Frederick Nelson. As the eldest son of Constable Nelson, a policeman, I had to accompany my father who was on patrol of the bush to round up the criminals at bay, but he is shot by John Dunn and dies in my arms.
As this is true Australian history as it is written, my role was important to the movie to show how this gang affected people. My role was intense at times with a lot of action and emotion so I had to be quick on my feet, and it was definitely physically challenging, as I had to run a lot in cold weather. The film was shot in winter so being outside in the bush was freezing, but it was worth it to be apart of this. I got to watch how props and mechanics work on set. I loved watching weapons being used and had a great time with the actors and the director was always fantastic. The costumes were amazing. Transforming into another era and becoming this character was great, and as this was based on a true story it was like taking a step back in time. Being Australian it was easy for me to relate to Frederick, as he is part of our history and I have a lot of respect for these people from that era.
In the film Holding The Man I played Nick Conigrave, the younger brother of the main character Tim Conigrave. The film is about a love story between Tim and John, who fall in love while attending an all-boys high school and although their love endures over the course of 15 years as they manage to overcome through life’s challenges, when Tim gets aids everything gets much harder.
As Tim’s brother I had to show a lot of emotion and be aggressive and upset. Being a member of a family with so much dysfunction that doesn’t get along well made things very dramatic, and my character brought a lot of drama to the story, which I actually loved doing.
I was always on the lookout for anything that could help me bring this character to life in a realistic way. I like creating a fictional person with weaknesses, history, mannerisms, hopes, fears, someone that is often even more real than people you meet in real life. As the younger brother, my character couldn’t understand what his brother was going through and he was confused and sometimes scared by the way Tim acted when he’s pushed beyond his limits.
Working alongside Guy Pearce and Ryan Corr and lot of others I felt a bit nervous before we started filming, but after I got on set and had gotten into my character I felt great.
The cast of this was amazing and I felt great being able to watch and learn as they took the time to discuss the script and my character role before we would head out on set to act out our scenes. The costumes were funny as the film is set in the 1980s, but I related to this character and I felt right playing him because I understand what it was like to be bullied over things in life.
In Underbelly, a crime series based on true stories, I played Ollie, a young boy under the watch of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious gangster in Melbourne in 1915 in the sixth season of the show. My character was poor and lived on the streets, and Squizzy would watch every move I made. My character was scared and submissive and he would have to steal for him in order to survive and in exchange he provided me with food and protection. I wore clothes from that era like woolen socks, which were very itchy and uncomfortable, and braces with a cap hat and thin shirts, so most of the time on set I was cold, dirty and itchy, which made me feel like I was actually living in that era. I also researched the era in order to better understand what the people had to go through and how hard living conditions were back then.
In the film Holden Town I play the starring role of Mack, who lives with his single father, Billy Barker, a man who was once a household name throughout Australia, but now he struggles to make ends meet as he raises his two sons.
My character needed money so he went to work on an apple orchard with some other young men, teaching him to realize that if he wants something he has to work hard for it. The film has drama, comedy and a lot of emotion, and having multiple genres in this film gives me the opportunity to change my character around a lot.
We have only shot the trailer for the film so far, and we will begin shooting the film in 2016 with this being shoot being on location in Victoria, Australia.
LG: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
CM: In Underbelly it was interesting playing a kid that had to steal and survive on the streets in the 1920s. I think trying to understand what it was like back then compared to the way things are with technology today was a cool experience. We have come along way since then, and I researched that era in order to get an idea of how people lived then and how tough it was.
Being as Holding The Man is based on a best selling novel on someone’s real life and I was playing the brother of Tim Conigrave, I had to research my character, as he was a real person with his own story and that made the experience really amazing. It was also interesting knowing that this love story took place during a time when there were a lot of negative feelings towards gay people.
LG: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
CM: The character and what’s behind the role, I try to find something I can relate to or is challenging, and something that I can accomplish in a great way. I also look for roles I’ve never done before in order to give my career and my craft a bit of diversity and ones that I can learn from. I’m interested in whatever will carry me to the next level as an actor so I can continue to make good movies.
LG: Have you done any commercials?
CM: Yes I’ve done several commercials for Brisbane Racing Club, Skwirk, Jump Factory Trampoline Park in Melbourne, Master Electricians, Nissan X Trail, a toy commercial for Target, David Jones the Australian department store, and Anzac Day for News Corp, which aired on all of the television channels, Internet, and in movie theaters.
LG: Is it overwhelming at times to be receiving so much recognition for your work so early on? How do you balance being a kid with having a career?
CM: While the film industry is incredibly hard and demanding, I have courage and inspiration to carry me through. In my spare time I love bike riding and being outdoors, and these things bring balance to my otherwise demanding schedule.
LG: What has been your favorite role so far and why?
CM: My favorite roles would have to be Underbelly as Ollie and Holding The Man as Nick, because I got to meet talented and experienced actors that helped me a lot on set with guidance. They were very caring and supportive. I also found it awesome to be in two different totally different eras, the 1920s and 1980s, with different costumes.
LG: Which actors do you look up to, and why?
CM: I have two favorite actors one is Australian Ryan Corr and American actor Leo DiCaprio because they both can carry different characters with their natural ability and shine in any character they take on. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that I look like Leo I’d be rich! I would love to work alongside him one day!
I look up to so many actors and I enjoy watching television shows, but I also look at the actors’ work and craft and find things that they do in their acting that I like and can learn from.
LG: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
CM: Definitely drama and horror, but at the end of the day every genre is great, and there’s nothing like a bit of action either.
LG: What separates you from other actors?
CM: My focus and dedication to the craft, and my ability to get on with the task at hand without distraction, and at times my quirkiness. I always have a good time on set and I like to have fun. I am very respectful to those I work with and my surroundings, and when I set my mind to something I like to bring it to life for the audience.
LG: You’re also a “Don’t Bully” ambassador– can you tell us about what that means and what the organization does?
CM: “Don’t Bully” is very important to me because, unfortunately there are some people who treat others with no compassion, kindness or respect, they also humiliate and berate people to the point of depression, which can cause suicidal thoughts. This is wrong, we as a society need to stand up and speak out for the silent, for those who do not have the strength or courage to stand up for themselves. No one has the right to bully, intimidate or humiliate another person, and “Don’t Bully” to me, is a way to stand up and speak out for those who cannot do this for themselves. I am passionate about “Don’t Bully” because I want to make a difference. I want to help others who have been in my situation being bullied and I really want to send the message to the all of the bullies out there that it is NOT COOL and it’s NOT OK… I want to make a difference for this generation and our future generations.
LG: What projects do you have coming up, or have you recently finished filming?
CM: Holding The Man is about to be released in America and it has done very well in Australia. Also The Legend Of Ben Hall is in post-production and will be released soon as well.
LG: What kind of training are you doing to better your craft at the moment?
CM: I’ve been training my American dialect with a coach; and I also train with another coach who helps me with comedic timing and voice control.
LG: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
CM: I have always enjoyed playing characters. I have fun reading scripts and feeling the character’s emotions and feeling like I am in the story.
LG: If you weren’t an actor, what other profession do you think you would like to do in the future?
CM: That’s very hard as I’m still growing up in the world, but I find I would like to do anything with film.
LG: What are your hobbies outside of performing?
CM: My hobbies are Bmx riding, collecting coins, antiques and hanging out with my friends at the local skate park.
LG: You’ve also had a lot of success as a model, can you tell us about some of the modeling jobs you’ve done so far?
CM: I did Elle magazine’s kids section, which went all through Asia.
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