Tell us a little bit about yourself.
When people ask me about myself I impulsively feel like it begins with where I’ve lived because the places I’ve lived have shaped me so much and mark a different stage in my life. So: I’m a Toronto based actor who was born in Toronto, grew up in Newmarket, completed university in Kingston and Montreal, lived in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, and then finally came back to Toronto to do a Theatre Conservatory Program and begin my professional acting career. I’ve moved around quite a bit, but all that life experience and the people I’ve met, filled up my creative reserves that I call on when I’m acting. That being said, it feels pretty great to be settled in Toronto where I feel like I’m home. I also paint when I’m looking for another creative outlet that I have more control over. You can follow me on the Insta @mylefthandpaints
Your passion for acting started at a young age. What stood out to you about performing that made it something you wanted to make a career out of?
I think what stood out to me about performing was the fun I had in storytelling. When I was young I loved to make up stories, do different voices for different characters and find the most dramatic flourish to engage whoever would listen to me. I found I could engage with people even though I was so incredibly shy, and it felt so good to be able to express myself in that way. I discovered I loved being seen, under very specific circumstances. It was a way to get attention, I guess. Turning that into a career took theatre training and a lot of trying and failing, but the underlying drive to tell a good clear story has always been at the heart of it all.
Your first big break came when you were cast alongside Eugene Levy in “Schitt’s Creek”. What was that experience like and what did you learn working with Eugene?
Acting with Eugene Levy on Schitt’s Creek was a dream come true. Watching him work, I got to witness a kind of ease that I hadn’t seen before in a performer. There’s a quiet, unassuming confidence about him. And he’s not afraid to not know something. He would figure out the scene we were doing between and during takes. He’d talk it out with me, ask me what I thought about some specific detail, discover different moments and then layer new nuances with every take. I’ve worked with other actors who do this, of course, that is our job, but there was an openness and gentleness to him that made it really easy for me to engage with him. I’ll always take from that experience that the unknown is a great space for interesting things to happen.
You’ve been cast in the role of Bianca on “Workin’ Moms” on CBC. What can you tell us about your character and what stood out about this role to you?
My character Bianca is a late thirties single woman who decides to have a baby on her own. I love Bianca’s courage to go after what she wants and face the challenges that come her way face on. She’s also very independent and I admire her directness.
You recently won Best Supporting Actor for the short film “I Lost My Mind” at the 2018 Hollywood North Film Festival. What was it like to receive that type of recognition?
It felt great to be recognized for my role in “I Lost My Mind.” Receiving the award was like getting a pat on the back from industry people.
You founded “Theatre Inamorata” which is a theatre company that develops and produces female-centric stories for the stage. Where did the idea to create your own theatre company come about?
Yeah, I co-founded Theatre Inamorata (which basically means ‘desireable woman’ in Italian) with three friends right after we graduated from theatre school. We loved the imagery and richness of classical text, so at first, we set out to dig up classical plays that highlighted interesting female characters. But nothing really passed our standards – the female characters had little to no agency, and rarely drove the story. So, then we decided to work with writers and collaborators to develop our own plays. Our biggest accomplishment to date has been producing a play called Gray, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “A Picture of Dorian Gray.” Most of the characters in our adaptation were changed to female or non-binary characters, including the lead character Dorian Gray. Writer Kristopher VanSoelen gave us a script that was both contemporary and rich with moments of that delicious heightened text we love so much.
We hold an annual fundraiser to raise money for the work we do. Our tag line says it all: “Virgin Burlesque: you never forget your first time.” Every year we have three “virgin” burlesquers who do their very own burlesque number. It’s a blast of an evening with diverse acts of music, comedy, sometimes magic, and of course, burlesque. I did my first burlesque five years ago, it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done!
What are some of the differences between working in theatre and working on a movie/tv show?
One of the biggest differences between working in theatre and working on a movie/tv show is the rehearsal process. In theatre we usually get at least two weeks of rehearsals leading up to opening night, but for on-screen work, not so much. For TV and film you show up, rehearse where to stand and when to move for the camera, and then it’s basically show time. Often times the scenes you’re shooting can be out of order from your overall story arc, so the challenge is mapping out where your character is and what they know at the beginning of each scene. But I do love the speed of tv work. Script changes can happen on the day and we’re expected to bring all these changes into our performance. It forces you to get out of your head and just play. Another big difference between theatre in film/tv work is the money. One day’s pay on set can be a whole week of work in the theatre. I love doing theatre because performing for a live audience is a pretty special thing. But I also love on-camera work for many other reasons.
What’s next for your career?
Up next for my career is yet to be determined. I’ve been doing more film and TV work in the last year, but lately, I’ve been auditioning for some exciting theatre projects. I still feel a pull toward doing theatre, and my ideal would be to have the kind of career that allows me to do both. Oh, and you can see me next in Atom Egoyan’s upcoming film “Guest of Honour”.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
My advice for aspiring actors/actresses would be to be your own biggest cheerleader and believe in your talent and everything you have to offer. So often I’ll do auditions and I feel they went well, but I rarely receive feedback other than, “good work” or “that was a strong read.” After a while, if I haven’t had any bookings, it can get me down, unless I reinforce my self-worth. I’d also tell an aspiring actor to be constantly learning and challenging themselves. Not just with acting related things, but with life in general. Personal and professional growth go hand in hand.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
I’ve been really enjoying instagram lately so you can definitely find me there: @tennilleread and @mylefthandpaints and @bonjourbarrington (I have a Boston Terrier who is an Insta celebrity)
My imdb page will also tell you about everything I’m working on that is on-screen:
Oh, and you can also check out Theatre Inamorata: theatreinamorata.com