Tag Archives: Canadian Actor

Trans Actor Jesse Todd Shines Light on Gender Non-Conformity through the Films “Parry Riposte” and “We Forgot to Break Up”

Jesse Todd
Actor Jesse Todd shot by Jessica D’Angelo

Jesse Todd is more than just a great actor, he is at the forefront of a movement that embodies the most misunderstood and underrepresented people in Hollywood: the transgender community.

The ability to express yourself freely without judgement or criticism of others is a lifelong journey that Jesse has experienced his whole life.

“When I started questioning my gender it really opened the door for me to reflect on all aspects of myself and who I want to be. To me acting is all about honesty and lending your truth to the character you play. Understanding myself and my truth through transitioning has allowed me to approach every character I’ve played with a deeper level of empathy,” Jesse explains.  

On screen his rare ability to translate both vulnerability and resilience through his performances, such as those in the hit films Parry Riposte and We Forgot to Break Up, have continued to pull at heartstrings around the world. His leading role in We Forgot to Break Up has no doubt brought the film to become recognized as an award winning work of art. It was the winner of the 2017 Best Canadian Shortwork Award at the Whistler International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, and a Grand Jury Nominee at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, to name a few. 

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As a trans actor Jesse taps into the important yet sometimes uncomfortable conversation of change, especially in terms of the way one’s physical transformation alters their previous world entirely. We Forgot to Break Up, as well as numerous other films he’s been apart of, unravel the many emotions people might have towards this type of change, even when they claim to “accept” you. This conversation has made Jesse a source of inspiration, something that led him to be invited as a panelist at 2018 Trans Summit at Outfest in LA. For Jesse, sharing his experience at the summit was a way to give-back and it’s one that he was proud to have been apart of. 

The best part of the trans summit was speaking with the mostly trans audience. After a Q and A with the panelists, there was an open forum discussion. It was a safe space to talk about the experience of being a trans artist in an industry that has historically excluded us and created problematic narratives and depictions of us,” explains Jesse. “I was able to talk about some of the challenges I faced with a group of people who had had similar experiences.” 

Many of Jesse’s roles to date have shed light on the transgender community and the daily trials they face in their world. To no surprise Jesse’s leading role as Evan Stroker in We Forgot to Break Up left an unforgettable mark that carried the film to its fullest potential. The film portrays the reaction of characters of a rock band and their unresolved conflicting emotions towards Jesse’s character, who goes through a gender affirming transition and returns to meet the band after a long absence. The interactions between Evan and the band members leave the audience feeling uncomfortable, raw, and emotional.

“Evan Strocker shows up to a gig of a band he used to manage but hasn’t seen in years. These are people that he grew up with and eventually walked out on. He has written a memoir and is hoping to leave it for the guitarist, his ex-lover,” explains Jesse. “Before he’s able to sneak out the way he came in, he’s found by the current manager. Tension is very high as Evan faces each band member; they’re not exactly happy to see him.”

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Jesse Todd in “We Forgot to Break Up” by Cabot McNenly

Evan Strocker was the manager for the band “Heidegger” for years and was somewhat responsible for their fame. The tumultuous relationship between himself and the band members give rise to feelings of dread, shame, rage and despair. Jesse carefully goes in and out of his pain using his own experience to drive home Evan’s emotional experience in a way that is real and powerful. 

“To bring this character to life I really focused on those relationships of the past. I drew upon my own experiences with letting go of relationships in order to find my truth. It can be very painful and jarring to finally put your own needs first and separate yourself from people who are holding you back, especially when you love them.”

Beyond the physical aspects of transitioning, the film focuses on how other people respond and reconnect with someone who returns in their new, more authentic state. The story depicts the layers of unprocessed and uncomfortable emotions that everyone involved faces and provides the audience with a raw and palpable perspective on the journey many within the transgender community face. It’s no wonder it was the Winner of Best Canadian Shortwork.

“I like to tell stories about people who feel real and allow themselves to be vulnerable.There is nothing in this world more strange and interesting to me than people. I’ve always been interested in trying to figure them out,” explains Jesse. 

“I hope that my work can help viewers look inward and feel something deeply. I hope that I can fill viewers with creative energy that motivates them to work on their own art, whatever that may be,” 

Jesse’s natural talent coupled with his depth and courage to portray his character’s unapologetic and most authentic self on screen holds the capacity to change the hearts and minds of viewers.

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Jesse Todd in “Parry Riposte” shot by Goldbloom Micomonaco

In the film Parry Riposte Jesse takes on the starring role of Liam directed by Goldbloom Micomonaco, a QueerTrans Jewish writer, director, and producer of projects under Goldbloom Films and Made By Muses. They have created powerful films like Wet (2018), an Official Selection of TiffxInstgram, Twigg Drive Freestyle (2018), and Hunger (2017), an Official Selection of the Toronto New Wave Film Festival. Their work has permeated into community spaces such as LIFT and the Trans Collective RSU

In Parry Riposte Jesse’s character grapples with the fact that he must guide a group of traumatized teenagers who have been victimized by a traumatic transphobic event at their school. Jesse delves into his leading role in a dynamic and believable way, and leaves a memorable impression on audiences.

Parry Riposte revolves around a fencing team of gender nonconformists who have to learn to stand together after their practice studio is vandalized by transphobics within their community. 

Jesse explains, “Each member of the club deals with the traumatic events in their own way. And my character, Liam, the senior athlete, is trying to pick up the pieces.”

The story is about finding ones community and chosen families, and the lengths trans and non-binary people go to in order to make space for each other. Conjuring up the endurance it takes to face adversity against the odds and inspiring those in pain to do the same, Jesse beautifully embodies his role as Liam on screen.

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Jesse Todd in “Parry riposte” by Goldbloom Micomonaco

“Jesse has an acting skill that is nuanced and advanced… The role of Liam was originally very angry and loud, but Jesse’s interpretation of the role grounded the performance and brought Liam to life in a way that was unlike anyone else we considered for the role,” explains Parry Riposte director Goldbloom Micomonaco. “Jesse’s reputation as an actor in Toronto preceded him, and I had known his work beforehand from other film productions… Working together was an amazing opportunity.”

In the wake of his own journey Jesse’s ability to deeply connect with the characters he takes on make his performances more than realistic, they are magnetic. His honest connection with his roles establishes the same honest connection with the audience. 

As is the case with most great actors, Jesse’s background has helped lay the foundation for him to tap into the raw and authentic emotions of his characters. 

Born and raised in Ontario, Canada with a single mother and two siblings, Jesse’s family endured many hardships with a lack of money and a lot of bad luck. However, these trials did not harden Jesse’s spirit but instead, made him a more self aware and empathetic human being. Through the arts, he found a positive environment where he could utilize his talents and escape his troubles at home. 

“It was my dream to be an actor when I was a kid, and I was always performing, I was such a ham. It helped me to feel free and have an escape from my reality,” Jesse recalls. “It was what I wanted to do with my life.  But as I got older, it didn’t seem like a possibility for me anymore. I wasn’t comfortable in my body and I didn’t want to be under any spotlight.” 

It wasn’t until his transition in his 20’s that Jesse felt more comfortable and confident moving throughout the world. His journey into self awareness and the courage to allow his truest and most authentic self to shine through, allowed him to connect with his life in a deeper way; and in finding himself, he was led him back to his first love, acting.

Jesse says, “I hadn’t thought about acting in years but an opportunity presented itself and I fell in love with performing all over again.  I see acting as an opportunity to reflect on all of my experiences and apply what I’ve learned throughout my life. It’s the best job in the world.”   

Jesse’s ability to not only represent and take on the weight of a suppressed community is, in a way, heroic. He has reached the root of his authentic self in a way that takes courage and deserves recognition. The transition process of reflecting on all aspects of himself and coming to terms with who he is has made Jesse a better actor, one that is able to carry heavy roles with vulnerability in a way that is familiar and even comfortable. 

“What I have to offer is myself, my experiences and my outlook on life. I have spent a long time trying to find strength and value in myself. I’ve figured out that everything I’ve been through has given me the tools to be a great actor,” explains Jesse. “My strongest qualities are my ability to listen, empathize, and respond thoughtfully. I see every acting job as an opportunity to both learn about myself and celebrate my life experiences through the character I’m playing.”

Actor Evan Marsh talks the importance of storytelling and loving what you do

For Canada’s Evan Marsh, acting is, at its heart, storytelling. Whenever he embodies a new character, he focuses on the story in the script and the untold story of his character’s life and their world. It isn’t just about believably saying the words on a page, it is becoming someone entirely new, living what they are living and going through entirely new life experiences. With that singular goal in mind, Marsh has quickly risen to the top of Canada’s entertainment industry, becoming a celebrated actor in his home country.

Throughout his career, Marsh has shown audiences all over the world just what he is capable of. Whether he is acting as the comedic relief/heartthrob in the Netflix Original Northern Rescue, or antagonizing the hero in DC’s newest hit Shazam!, Marsh’s versatility and talent is always on full display.

“As a man who gets bored of repetitive things quickly, I think the main thing I love about acting is the excitement of ‘what’s next?’ No single production is the same and each experience is so very different from the next. I also love meeting new people so walking onto a set with 10 new cast mates and 100 new crew members is a dream come true,” said Marsh.

Marsh is always looking for unique and often untold stories to put his touch on, and he found that with the 2017 comedic drama The Space Between. Amy Jo Johnson’s debut feature film is a heartfelt comedy about a proud new father who learns that his wife took his infertility into her own hands with a 19-year old university student and sets out on a journey to find the biological baby-daddy.

“I like this story because it brings both comedy and drama to the screen in a very unique and interesting way. It deals with the very real problem that people deal with that is infidelity but manages to discuss it in a way that still ultimately warms the heart. Amy Jo Johnson is incredible at writing in a way that is bigger than life, but never has a false note and I think that is why I myself and so many others really loved the story of The Space Between,” said Marsh.

On top of its compelling story, Marsh was attracted to the film because of the likeness he shared with his character, Danny Baker. When he first read the script, he was shocked at their similarities and knew there was no one better to play the role. Johnson agreed.

Danny is a very gentle and innocent kid. He is very smart, and when audiences first meet him in university, he explains that he is on his way to becoming a doctor. He cares about his family and puts them before everything. This is all a surprise to the audience because as the lead is trying to find him, they are naturally picturing someone completely different.

“It could be argued that this story wouldn’t even be possible without the character of Danny Baker. When I first read the script, I was surprised at how significant of a role the character played to the entirety of the story as the entire cast are trying to locate Danny. As this is going on the audience is creating its own idea of who my character might be along the journey,” Marsh described.

Because the storyline revolved around his character, Marsh felt a tremendous amount of weight on his shoulders. He loved that feeling and it allowed him to test his ability in a way he hadn’t yet had the chance to do at the time for a feature film. He sat down with the writer and really figured out what she wanted from the character and was sure to bring her ideas and thoughts into his scenes.

“I enjoyed so much about this project, but in particular I enjoyed working with Amy Jo Johnson the director/writer. I believe that because she has held such a long successful career in front of the camera that she developed a great ability to talk to her actors on set and discuss where a scene should be going or why something may or may not be working. She also has an infectious joy that she carries with her every day that made working on this project so fun and rewarding,” he said.

The Space Between was released in theatres on July 6th, 2017. On top of resonating with its audience, it went on to win awards and recognition at many film festivals around the world. Marsh was thrilled to be such a vital part of the film’s commercial and critical success, and still feels grateful to this day.

“It is great knowing a project that read so beautiful in the early stages was able to keep its heart throughout all the filming, editing and cutting. I think each cast member did such a wonderful job bringing their characters to life without losing any of the larger than life comedic aspects and I believe that played a significant part in the film’s success,” he concluded.

 

Written by Sean Desouza
Photo by John Bregar

Canada’s Romaine Waite terrifies audiences in sci-fi horror flick ‘Antisocial’

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Canadian Actor Romaine Waite

Romaine Waite has always been an outgoing person, a trait he believes has helped him greatly as an actor. When he was a child, growing up in Canada, he participated in school plays and drama programs, not because he thought it would be his career, but simply because that is what he enjoyed. It wasn’t until his early twenties when he realized he could truly follow his passion, and the second he got his first professional part, he knew that acting was his calling.

“I’ve always had this innate ability to connect with people in some way, making people laugh or causing disruptions, depends on who you ask,” he joked.

Now, Waite is a celebrated actor. His work in television series such as Star Trek: Discovery,Frankie Drake Mysteries, and The Mistimpressed audiences in not only Canada, but the rest of the world. His versatility knows no bounds, and he is always looking for a new way to explore his talents.

“Romaine is great. He makes my job a lot easier. He is the consummate professional and a very dedicated and crafter artist. It is always pleasurable working with him,” said Alan Moy, Producer who worked alongside Waite on Murdoch Mysteries and Usher the Usher.

Waite recalls his first real taste of international success as the sci-fi horror flick Antisocial. The movie follows five university friends who gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world. With nowhere else to turn, they barricade themselves indoors with only their phones, laptops, and other tech devices. They use their devices to research the possible cause of this outbreak. Information and video footage over flow their computers as they descend further into the cause and the ensuing chaos. As the virus spreads, the mood in the house changes from fear to paranoia. Who is safe? Who can they trust? Reality becomes blurred as they slowly discover the source of the virus causing the sickness… and there is no going back.

“I thought the story was clever it takes something that everyone was familiar with, being social media, and took it to the extreme. If you take away the gore, it’s basically what we’re experiencing today. Snapchat, Instagram, etc. have become these tools that are allowing people to share every single aspect of their life. In a way, I think the film talks about a very important subject in our society — what are the effects of social media and what are the limits and consequences of sharing too much on social media,” said Waite.

In the film, Waite plays Steve, one of the five friends gathering to celebrate New Year’s Eve. He was jovial and sincere university student. Audiences got to see him enjoy time with his close friends and girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was first in the house to experience the epidemic that trapped them in the house. This is pivotal, as Waite was responsible for getting the audience to truly understand the epidemic, and therefore the film. Within the film, Steve was the only individual who the audience was able to see go through a full transition. With this, the audience knew what the signs were and what would happen if another character was to get infected.

“It was really important to me that people felt the struggle of this character. As he tried to figure out what was happening to him without revealing anything to others in house. Through my portrayal, I hoped the audience would feel like they were a friend to my character and miss this him when he was gone,” Waite described.

The film had its premiere at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal back in 2013, and from there went to several high-profile international film festivals, including Calgary International Film Fest, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival. From there, it was distributed through Monster Pictures on DVD, through Super Channel, and on iTunes. Such success could not have been possible without Waite’s portrayal of Steve, hooking audiences to the story early on.

“It’s always nice to see an indie film do well. It takes so many people and long days to make a film. To me the success is in completing the project. I am proud of everyone involved,” said Waite.

Antisocial was Waite’s first horror feature film, and five years later he still looks back and coals the experience amazing. At the time, he was still very curious about the process of filmmaking and how it all would come together, and he could not have been happier with the result. Everyone on set was professional and inspired, creating a contagious energy. He found himself watching everyone on set, from the cinematographer to the special effects make-up artist, taking everything in and reminding himself why he wanted to be an actor in the first place.

“I liked the comradery. Everyone was really passionate about the project. We were all stuck in a house for weeks. Friendships were built, and some good memories were made. I hadn’t done anything like that before. Overall it was a great experience,” he said.

Be sure to check out Antisocial to see Waite’s terrifying performance as Steve.

Liam Casey Sullivan takes destiny into his own hands

It has been said that destiny doesn’t come down to chance. Rather, destiny is a choice. It isn’t something to wait for, it is something to be achieved. Growing up with actors as parents, Liam Casey Sullivan has always known that entertaining was his destiny; however, rather than wait around for his fate to unfold, Sullivan took matters into his own hands and began doing the very thing he knew he was meant to do. His childhood was charged with exposure to entertainment and other forms of artistic expression. With that, his imagination ran rampant and he was captivated by the world it molded around him. As a result, the talented young actor is no stranger to the stage. Whether he is acting in a theatre production, on a television program, or on the big screen, he is determined to ensure that he never lets his calling escape him. He was born for the screen and knows that with the right amount of hard work and dedication, he will be able to continue along a path to greatness and enjoy it.

Since the outset of his career, Sullivan has earned himself a number of different roles across various entertainment mediums. For instance, when Sullivan was just 10 years old, he felt more than ready to begin his acting journey. The unrepresented, eager young artist had compiled a portfolio of head shots and information about himself, as well as his skill set, and to his avail, was recognized by renowned director, Pat Mills, who wanted Sullivan to act in his upcoming film, 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car. The film comedically follows five individuals during a car ride to drop their grandmother off at her retirement home.

Given his desire to immerse himself into the entertainment industry, Sullivan recalls the experience as feeling absolutely surreal. On top of the excitement of simply getting to act professionally, knowing that his first ever film went on to successfully screen at several North American film festivals, as well as to secure a win for Best International Short Film at FilmOut San Diego, was all the more exciting for the enthusiastic Canadian actor. In addition, he was over the moon when BlogTO named 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car one of the top 8 must-see films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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LIAM CASEY SULLIVAN AND SHANNON FORD 5 DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE IN A CAR, PHOTO BY PAT MILLS

For the film, Sullivan played a character by the name of Robbie Gordon, intended to be the ultimate heartthrob and the coolest kid in his school. He exists within a constant buzz that results from his popularity, keeping his friends close and turning his nose up at anyone else he crosses paths with. Stereotypically, girls crush on him, his grades lack, and his ego fills every room he enters. In order to play Robbie as convincingly as possible, Sullivan made an effort to channel the excitement of entering the acting world at such a young age and allow him to appear conceited and aware of his reputation. In addition, he seized the project as an opportunity to act as a sponge, absorbing as much information as he possibly could from his experience on set, working alongside other talented actors and under a skilled director. He took note of the hard work and processes evolving around him, vowing to bring his skill set up to par and to start off his career with a bang.

“I was so fortunate to be able to witness a group of people so passionate about what they were doing at the young age of ten. It really solidified my aspiration to continue to do this for the future of my career,” recalled Sullivan.

After working on 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car, Sullivan dedicated himself to pursuing other meaningful roles. He continued to surround himself with like-minded creatives and seizes each new learning experience as ferociously as he did for his first. Since that very first film, Sullivan has gone on to work on a number of other successful projects, such as Mary Goes Round and Degrassi: Next Class. Sullivan is a firm example of the notion that by combining his talent with a willingness to learn and a determination to find work, he can turn his dedication into positive outcomes. For other young actors looking to seize their destiny, Sullivan has the following advice to offer:

“Always challenge your emotional capacity and don’t be afraid to take leaps outside of yourself. It is surprising how well you can do when you consistently test the boundaries of your work. It is really important to always keep in mind how many people go into making a production successful and it is crucial to trust your collaborators. Whether that’s your director or your fellow actors, developing solid trust amongst each other is a great way to achieve results. Be that firmly supporting and believing in your director or fully engaging with another actor in a scene, always remember that achieving greatness in this industry is solely based on the collaboration of many.”

 

Written by Annabelle Lee, top photo by Joshua Augusto

Actor Tony Nash shows off boxing skills in ‘Petrol’

Tony Nash believes that his responsibility as an actor is to find the soul of his character and take on their essence. And for this Canadian actor, he believes that the soul of every character has its seed within his own. The seed of some character’s souls sometimes closely resemble him, and others differ greatly, but the differences are always a result of a difference of choices and environment, not the substance of the soul itself. His soul and every other soul out there are made of the same stuff. This is what makes great acting possible. The potential to take on another’s soul through a character and live and breathe as him is limitless, and for that reason, Nash knew acting was the only path for him.

From the 2015 horror/comedy Secret Santa to the upcoming Audience network series Condor, Nash has shown audiences everywhere that he is not only a talented actor, but extremely versatile as well. Whether he is playing a supportive friend, like in the acclaimed movie Saving Dreams or a complicated, bilingual police officer, which he did in the film Meet the Parents, Nash remains completely committed to his characters. He not only portrays them, he becomes them, and this could not be more evident than with his work on the television show Petrol in 2016.

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Petrol is an action/drama series following five reckless drivers who all work for a mysterious Employer. In the show, Nash plays Jason, an ex-military veteran and boxer who is commissioned by a mysterious figure known as The Employer to plan and execute a gold heist. When it goes wrong and his partner is killed, a plan to execute revenge on the all-powerful and elusive Employer is born.

“I was really excited about Petrol because not only would I be able to let loose with my boxing training on set, but also execute a meticulous and brutal gold heist; every actor’s dream. It sounded really exciting to me because I enjoy playing the mysterious bad guy. It comes naturally to me and I knew this would be really fun. I wanted to experience working on a high-paced action project and I knew this would be different than anything else I had done in the past,” said Nash.

The character of Jason was a very skilled boxer who would go on and lead a heist. As an ex-military commander, he knew how to think on his feet and stay composed in any situation. When the heist goes wrong and his friend gets shot in all the action, Nash’s Jason had to compartmentalize his emotions and complete the mission despite losing his comrade. It was a dramatic loss, but he had to push through to the end. He was brave and extremely determined, able to think fast of imminent danger. Nash was ready for the complex role and executed it to perfection.

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“I worked with Tony on the television show Petrol, where he performed the critical role of Jason the Boxer. Tony’s character is a trained boxer and there are several long scenes in which Jason was to realistically fight an opponent, which provided something of a challenge to the actor who would portray him. On top of that, Jason is also a complicated character who must display the emotions of one whose friend is killed, leading him to desire revenge. I am proud to say that Tony performed beyond my wildest expectations. As a trained boxer, he portrayed Jason’s technique and savagery in the ring perfectly. Not only that, but he was also a fantastic, nuanced actor, bringing the emotional depth of the character to life. His performance enhanced the quality of the entire show. I was extremely impressed with his work,” said Reza Sholeh, Writer and Director of Petrol.

When Sholeh approached Nash about taking on a role as a boxer, Nash was excited about the opportunity and would not let anything get in the way of his delivering a great performance. He was eager to put to use a whole slew of other skills in addition to acting, to take on this explosive role. This is not common, and Nash says that he feels lucky to be able to play such a character. He immediately began training. He had previous experience in boxing, but to be a realistic professional boxer, he wanted to look completely natural. Having already understood many techniques from his previous boxing training, he quickly became an expert for the part, training at the Toronto Boxing Academy in Toronto. It was challenging, training for hours every day, there was a lot of sweat and exhaustion, but Nash knew the importance of the work. He used the long hours spent in the gym to get into the mood and mindset of his character. In one particular boxing scene, Nash steals the show and truly looks like a professional boxer.

“I love boxing and it is one of my favorite sports that I continue to practice even now, years after filming Petrol. I have many inspirations such as Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson. I studied their techniques and skill and compared them to many other boxers to understand the secret to their incredible success. The day of the shoot for that particular scene, I came in early to warm up and really get into it and focus not only on the technique, but to give the character his own personality as a boxer. I hope I can once again shine in a role not only through acting, but through my other skills and hobbies as well,” said Nash.

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Nash’s work was essential to Petrol and the episodes featuring Jason the Boxer. He was able to bring both his skills as a boxer and talent as an actor to the screen. It is sometimes difficult for actors to be able to do both naturally and simultaneously, but Nash did so flawlessly. He practiced and perfected both boxing and his lines, not forgetting to take the time to understand the character’s mind by finding his soul within him.

“I really liked the fast pace action of this story. I usually opt for deeper and more complex characters, but I loved how my character shared this bond with his friend through boxing and how he was suddenly taken away from him in the heist. I think that is important to portray because it shows both sides of a character. On the outside my character looked tough and intimidating and was willing to put his life at stake in a high-risk situation, but he also had another side of him. That’s important to show because it allows people to understand that there’s more to a tough guy than the way they look on the surface,” he said.

Petrol was released in February 2016 and went on to win several awards including Best Mystery at the Vancouver Webfest and Best Action Adventure at Hollywebfest.

 

By Sean Desouza

Canadian star Dewshane Williams recalls ‘Dogpound’ and why he went into acting

From the time Dewshane Williams was a child, he always had one passion: film. He spent his earliest years watching movies and television shows as much as possible. As he grew, he started to see himself as an actor. After his first performance, when he was just a schoolboy, he was hooked. He began to immerse himself in musical theatre, writing, choreographing, and acting in productions. He never envisioned himself doing anything else, and today, he is one of the best actors to recently come from Canada.

Williams has spent most of his life in Canada, and has taken the country’s film industry by storm. He has starred in hit television shows, such as The Expanse and Defiance, as well as critically-acclaimed films like The Story of Luke and Home Again.

Williams’ first true taste of international success came in 2010 from his work on the film Dogpound. Georges Bermann, the Executive Producer of the film, credits Dogpound of launching a number of careers, including Williams’. His convincing portrayal of Frank the inmate was spot on and accurate, and Berrmann was incredibly impressed with the, at the time, not well-known actor.

“I noticed that Dewshane is the type of actor that focuses entirely on creating the best work. Watching him channel the teenage angst associated with juvenile distress made our director’s job easy. He’s a joy to work with. Dewshane’s generosity and focus are admirable qualities. I think his performance in our film speaks for itself; hard work goes a long way,” said Bermann.

 Dogpound tells the story of 17-year-old Butch, who is sent to the Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center in Montana for blinding an abusive correctional officer. He brings with him a deep-seated intolerance for injustices and a penchant for meting out retributions on his own. He becomes friends with two other inmates at the correctional facility, where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates.

“This film is important because it’s a cautionary tale. It’s social commentary. If you look closely enough, it’s an opportunity to show anyone who’s going down the wrong path where they’ll end up. Particularly young people who might not have any idea what that kind of world is like,” said Williams.

In Dogpound, Williams played Frank. He was a juvenile inmate who worked as an enforcer. Frank starts a riot that involves everyone in the jail. His character has an important arc, as Frank appears to be an immoral character, but ultimately has a heart. Due to an injustice perpetrated against another inmate, he takes it upon himself to act, which was surprisingly selfless for the character. Williams is now known for taking on roles that will impact audiences, and at the time, this is exactly what he did.

Dogpound premiered in June 2010 in Paris, France, and later was an Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival. The director, Kim Chapiron, won the coveted “Best New Narrative Director” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film impacted audiences and impressed critics all over the world, and skyrocketed Williams’ name in the Canadian film industry.

“The thought that anyone would pay me to do what I loved was a dream come true, it really was,” Williams recalled.

Dogpound was Williams’ first feature film. At the time, the entire concept of being on set and shooting a movie seemed unreal to the young actor. He auditioned for the role just dreaming he would get the part, but his raw talent eclipsed any lack of experience he may have had at the time. He greatly impressed the casting director, and won the role.

“It’s a standard thing to hear, but actors almost always have to audition for a part. Before getting to revel in whom you might be working with, you’ve got to compete. You’ve got to show everyone why you’d be able to bring something to the character. I studied for hours, trained with my acting coach, and left school early that day. I can remember being in Character the whole day, maybe that helped,” said Williams.

Once earning the role, a lot of research was required for Williams to truly understand his character. He read articles, watched films, and a number of documentaries. He credits a docuseries titled Scared Straight as being great source material for him to understand the juvenile delinquent correctional system.

“The film was a co-production between Canada, USA, and France. Most of our film crew had flown in from Paris, so I had to be a great listener on that set. English wasn’t our director’s first language, so I picked up a bit of French while shooting. I loved our crew; they really wanted to create a good film – I could tell, and that was infectious,” said Williams.

Now that Williams has become such a successful actor, it may be easy to forget that feeling of what it was like to be young and struggling, just dreaming of becoming what he now is. However, Williams remains humble, and Dogpound still holds a special place in his heart.

“You never forget your first film, and this one was mine. To this day, complete strangers come up to me and say ‘that film was so realistic, I would never want to end up in there.’ That’s the point, you don’t want to end up in Juvie,” Williams concluded.

 

 

Victor Gilbert reminds the world that a kiss should just be a kiss

victor
Victor Gilbert

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.