How did you get your start as an actor?
I have been performing since I was a little kid. I was always creating characters and performing shows/skits for my family and friends. As a child, the joke amongst my parent’s friends was that they were coming for “dinner and a show.” After a period of time I went to my dad and I remember asking him at nine years old, referring to acting, “What is this thing I do?” He said, “It’s called acting. People who do that are actors.” I asked, “Can you make money doing this?” He said, “Yes, if you work hard.” From that moment on I was committed, and I started telling people that I was an actor. After many years of classes, and auditioning I was cast in my first project as Jedidiah The Elf in DW Waterson’s holiday comedy, Green Christmas. That experience on set was the launching pad and built the foundation of my love for being a working actor. So grateful for that!
What can you tell us about your role as Boris McDougald in the upcoming CBC Gem show, “The Communist’s Daughter”?
Boris McDougald is the youngest child in the McDougald family. He is definitely the rogue one of the family, being so outspoken about his love for anything American views and dreams of profiting from his various business ideas. He is a true capitalist, he is always looking for that angle to make money. On the show, audiences will see his struggle associating with his communist family because of his true desire to be normal and attend North American high school. At the end of the day, Boris’s greatest challenge will be finding the balance between following his dream of taking over Wall Street and being an active member of his family. Boris is such a fun character to play. I am so grateful for Boris being a part of my life. You’re co-writing your first television pilot.
What can you tell us about it and do you plan on creating more in the future?
Yes! This has been such a very exciting experience. I have always loved the dynamics of workplace comedies, so when my writing partners, my brothers Matt, and Josh Taerk, and I came up with our own idea, I was instantly hooked and knew it was something I wanted to pursue. We are currently working on it as we speak, and I look forward to sharing more updates as its development continues.
How have you evolved as an actor over the last decade or so?
In the last decade, I have experienced two chapters of my acting career. I feel the evolution came with maturity, both physical and emotional. Ten years ago I did not look the same way that I do today, and in the years prior to that, I was 70lbs heavier than I am right now. Casting directors have seen my physical body evolve in weight and height over that time period, creating different opportunities for me to audition. In terms of emotional maturity, I think today I can empathize and have compassion for the characters I play whereas ten years ago I would approach my characters with a lot of judgment. Over time I have learned the beauty of developing a character and feeling their feelings and experiencing the world through their eyes. As an actor, that has been my greatest evolution. I am also a believer in continuing to develop and learn. So in ten years, I will comment on what I know then, and what I didn’t know today…does that make any sense? Haha!
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
I would say to any young actor/actress, to always keep dreaming! It’s the accessing of your creative juices that make any artist unique. Your version of a character is special, regardless of if you are cast in the role or not. For me, I have always reminded myself why I love doing what I do. If you love the art of creating characters and have this passion for sharing what you’ve created with others, then this is the career for you.
You’ve even released a song that you co-wrote in 2019. Was that a one-off experience or do you plan to continue songwriting?
Yes! That was such an exciting experience. The whole radio campaign for our song Beautiful Tragedy became a family affair. Celebrating the song breaking the Billboard Top 40 was so amazing! Funny enough, my brother, Josh, and I have released many songs prior to that. You can find our work on Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, basically anywhere music can be streamed or downloaded under Josh Taerk.
What’s next for your career?
Honestly, there are a few very exciting projects that are in the works at the moment. I am very grateful that through the pandemic I have been able to work as an actor, writer, musician/songwriter, and also participate in giving back to my community. This time has really fostered a lot of creativity and sealed the love I have for what I do, and I can’t wait to share more specific details really soon.
What’s your life like outside of the set?
Life on set is amazing, but life outside of set has treated me very well, as well. I am grateful to be a part of a large family that keeps me very grounded. The excitement of being an entertainer takes a lot of energy, and getting to decompress with those that love you, and that I love, is really special. When I am not on set I certainly miss getting to be around other actors, but life outside of set is just as beautiful and bright.
Tell us about Taerk’s Turkey Drive and what led you to start this venture.
In 2017, after sitting at my oldest brother’s birthday dinner, and watching the love and connection that was happening around the table, I got home and felt this overwhelming sense of wanting to help others. I had this feeling that I was being called to action. In that moment I created this idea to donate Thanksgiving dinners to families in the GTA that are going through hard times. Family has always been so important to me, and food definitely has brought my family together through the years, so I felt very passionate about making this happen. I was lucky enough to get the love and support of my family, and it immediately became a family annual tradition. By creating this, I wanted to spread the importance of family, connection, and the hope that even though we are strangers, we can still spread love to those in our community. I wanted to create a Thanksgiving dinner experience where family members could all come together and enjoy the time and food together without the financial pressures of purchasing the meals. This past year as the pandemic and lockdowns continued, we expanded our Thanksgiving effort to a Christmas turkey drive, and we were able to provide 200 dinners to so many people in our local community.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
Yes! I am definitely on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter (@ryantaerk and @RyanTaerk respectively). You can also find videos of my brothers and I playing music on Youtube. Just type in Josh Taerk or The Taerk’s.