Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sydney van Delft and I am currently an actor, dancer, and producer from Toronto, Canada. In my short time here on this weird little planet, I have had a few different careers. From dancer, to actor, to accountant, part-time fitness instructor, and producer, it’s definitely been an interesting journey.
You’re a former Canadian Champion rhythmic gymnast. How did you end up in acting?
When I was a rhythmic gymnast I really enjoyed the artistic performance side of it, and it definitely brought out the competitive side in me. I then auditioned for the National Ballet School and got accepted to the full-time program, meaning that I had to give up my gymnastics career. At NBS, I had the opportunity to perform with the National Ballet of Canada in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Pastorale, and The Contract. This was where I first got to explore acting and playing different characters on stage. I fell in love with it and a few years later I started auditioning for film and TV.
You also attended the National Ballet School of Canada. How did that help prepare you for your eventual acting career?
The National Ballet School was a great place to grow up as an artist. The discipline and professionalism required at the school prepare you for a career in the entertainment industry. Ballet dancers put in hours and hours of training and I’ve aimed to apply a similar work ethic to acting, making sure I am always training and working on my craft. It was also my first exposure to acting, as I got to play characters in ballets with the National Ballet of Canada. Being a dancer has also helped me get certain roles and auditions. As an actor, having additional skills is always an asset.
How did you get your start in the film industry?
I actually got kicked out of ballet school when I was 14 as I didn’t meet the height requirements to be a professional ballet dancer (I’m 5’2”). When that chapter closed, I was absolutely devastated, and took some time to figure out how I could satisfy my creative instincts. I started auditioning for film and TV and eventually landed roles on Disney and Family channel shows. My producing career started after I went to business school at the Richard Ivey School of Business and completed my Chartered Accountant designation. At the time, I had quit acting and was working at a Big 4 firm in San Francisco and was absolutely miserable. My heart has always been in the film industry so I decided to quit my job, move back to Toronto, and use business and creative background to try my hand at producing. The first film I ever produced was a script I wrote and made with some filmmaker friends. It wasn’t a great film but I learned a lot from it and have since been able to make better and better films.
What did you learn from your time on Reign, Life With Derek, and Degrassi?
It’s always such a great experience to work on bigger shows. You get a chance to work with and learn from seasoned actors and experienced directors. I had so much fun on ‘Reign’ because the set and costumes take you back in time. You walk onto the set and you’re in another world. There’s so much going on in the background on large sets so I learned to be able to block out all of the commotion and focus on my scene. They also have a LOT of amazing snacks!
What was it like to be chosen as the producer for the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee Short Film Creation Lab?
It was such a privilege to be part of the short film creation lab for our film ‘Moon Dog’. I met our talented director, Chala Hunter, who is now a great friend of mine and we are currently developing another project together. I was also paired with a mentor, Janis Lundman of Back Alley Films, who has since become a constant support and resource. It was great to be able to tackle a short film with the support of the Toronto Actra Women’s Committee. We were so fortunate to have that safety net as we navigated our way through the strange world of filmmaking.
What can you tell us about your latest production Dystonia?
“Dystonia” is a film written by my producing partner Kenny Wong. It’s Kenny’s true story of a violinist who is diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that forces the muscles in the hand to contract involuntarily. The film follows, James Wong (Kenny Wong), as he navigates the effect of this disorder on his career, his relationship with his girlfriend Emily (played by myself), and his whole life. The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Short Film Festival on November 15th, 2019 at Carlton Cinemas!
How important were the TakingITGlobal and Jeunes Volontaires grants in getting this project off the ground?
TakingITGlobal and Jeunes Volontaires were incredibly important and we cannot thank them enough for believing in our film and our team. It was crucial for us to be able to afford the talented crew and artists that were all a part of this project. Traditional film funding can be really difficult to access so going outside the box with different funding bodies is necessary. THANK YOU TakingItGlobal and Jeunes Volontaires!
Do you plan on continuing to work backstage and in front of the camera or do you prefer one over the other?
I consider myself a storyteller, and for me that combines acting, producing, and sometimes both at the same time. I definitely would love to keep doing both in the future, and plan to act in the projects that I produce.
What’s next for your career?
We’re really excited for the premiere of ‘Dystonia’ so gearing up for that. Kenny, myself, and our co-producers, Beanduck Productions, are also developing the feature film version of Dystonia. I am also developing another feature film but I have to keep that a secret!
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/producers?
Actors: Train, work hard, and be patient. Love what you do and find the heart of every character you play.
Producers: Just rip the band-aid off and make the damn thing! If it works, amazing! If not, you’ll have learned a lot.
What’s your life like outside of the film industry?
I’m proud to say, I’ve been able to work my hobbies and interests into my career, so outside of work, I tend to do a lot of related things. I read screenplays and plays for fun and I take a heels dance class with my dancer friends. I am also really into fall hikes right now and finding the best hot chocolate in the city (any suggestions?). I love spending time with my family and our dog, Buzz Lightyear. He’s a real joker and just had his first commercial audition. He didn’t get it, but I’m hopeful about his career in entertainment!
Let the readers know where to find you online.
You can find me @sydneyvandelft on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!