Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Montreal, lived in Vancouver for a while, and now call Toronto home. I’m an actor, with a focus on film, television, and voice work.
What first got you interested in the entertainment world?
It was a combination of things. I grew up dancing and singing. Nothing professional, just for fun. I loved performing but was convinced that I was shy. When I took my first acting class in my final year of high school I felt absolutely alive. My shyness fell away because it felt like it wasn’t me up on stage, it was the character I was playing. I had caught the bug.
How did your time at Dawson College prepare you for the acting world?
Oh gosh. That was so long ago. I feel like I have lived so many different lives since then. But I guess I would say it was the first bit of validation that maybe I did have a talent for performance. I had to audition to get into the program, and I had never done that kind of thing before. So being accepted into the program was the first bit of acknowledgment that maybe I was on the right path. I learned a lot of things while I was there, the most important being that to be an actor I really had to shed my protective layers and be truly vulnerable.
Your first professional acting gig in “Bullet in the Face” was for a role that was originally written for a man that they changed for you because of your standout audition. How did it feel to earn that role?
I cannot help but think that the audition itself wasn’t anything particularly amazing. Rather, I was given a special opportunity to present a different option to the powers that be. I think more and more, creators, producers and directors are realizing that men often are automatically thought of when a script is being created. Sure, sometimes the role only makes sense if a man plays it, but more often than not, all you have to do is change the pronoun from he to she and voilà! All of a sudden you’ve helped change the way we represent women on camera. Why does the dentist have to be a man? I know dentists who are women. So at the end of it all, it really felt great to be a part of a decision that was made to open up the category and have a woman play that “man’s” role.
You earned an ACTRA Montreal nomination for Best Outstanding Female Performance in a Feature Film for your role in Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story. Was the nomination validation for all the work you have put in?
Anytime anyone has the chance to feel congratulated for their work, it feels great. I absolutely loved everything about working on Stagecoach. I still can’t believe I got to do it. To then earn a nomination for that role was an incredible gift. It’s important to find happiness and validate yourself as an actor since we deal with so many obstacles. But yeah, I feel incredibly thankful for being acknowledged by my peers.
What can you tell us about your role in the new drama, “My Perfect Landing”?
I play Whitney Cortez. She’s a widow who moves her two kids from Miami to Toronto because she can’t get a job and is in need of a new start. She and her father set up a gymnastics studio together and they all try to settle into their new life. The whole family is involved in gymnastics. The only problem is, she won’t let her daughter, Jenny, pursue it in the way she wants, so she ends up doing a lot behind Whitney’s back. Whitney also has some old, never-discussed issues with her father that haven’t yet been resolved, and that affects how she deals with her kids. There are some really interesting dynamics in the show, and it deals with some tough issues, but it also has so much heart. You really feel connected to all of these characters.
You’re stuck in a love triangle in your role as Claire Marlowe in the thriller “His Fatal Fixation” on Lifetime. What can audiences expect from this film?
I think what’s great about this movie is that it doesn’t shy away from getting into the nitty-gritty of deceit, jealousy, and pain. We’ve all experienced some or all of these things. They’re, unfortunately, pretty universal. When an audience can connect with a character, that’s when you can really get lost in the story, and this mystery is a fun one to get lost in. What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses? Ask questions. Take classes. Read. There is so much to learn about this career. It’s a business, it’s an art, it’s complex. If you catch yourself saying “nah, I don’t need to learn that” – don’t be so quick to dismiss an opportunity to gain new knowledge. Learn anything and everything you can, don’t give up, and most importantly, be kind to everyone – especially yourself.
What’s your life like off-set?
I love doing hot yoga. When I’m not working I’ll get up at 5:30 and go to an early morning class. It’s such a great way to start my day and really sets the tone for my day. Plus, when you get up that early you feel so accomplished by noon! I also spend a lot of time doing auditions at home with my husband Jason, who is also an actor. I love traveling, eating delicious food with friends, and snuggling with our dog, Charlie.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
I love Instagram! You can follow me @_helenamarie where I like to post interviews, memes, and photoshoots, as well as personal pics of me, my friends and family. I also have a website which has more information on my career: OfficialHelenaMarie.com.