Tell us a little bit about yourself.
OK. We’re starting with the hardest question! I am an actor, sometimes writer,
dancer, singer, painter … you name it, really. I tend to jump into anything
creative. My Mother was an artist. Well, she was an interior designer at first
because for her, that was a practical way of being an artist, until she decided to
go back to University and dedicate herself to the art. This was a decision I really
admired and am grateful for. My Dad, on the other hand, is a retired engineer.
So, with Mom and I, he called himself a patron of the arts.
I was born in Perth, Australia because my parents took a super cool, epic
motorcycle road trip back in ’71 starting with flying out to England where their
new BMW bike was shipped and riding from there through all Europe, through
the Middle East, then India. When they got to the Indian Ocean, they got on one
ship, the bike went on another, and the bike took so long, they’d already gotten
jobs by the time it arrived. I arrived three years later.
When I was, I guess, almost four, a tragedy in my Dad’s family convinced them to
return to Canada. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to choose to stay in Australia. 😉 So,
I grew up in Northern Alberta. Bounced back and forth between Edmonton and
Ft McMurray. I was an only child, a bit of a shy weirdo, so any artistic escape I
could find, I would dive into.
How did you first become interested in becoming an actress?
It’s really funny because I have friends who KNEW they wanted to be actors
from the age of four. I remember the first time I saw a movie. It was ET. It was
like magic. Every movie I saw was a whole world that I wanted to believe
existed. It would have smashed the bubble if I thought it was something a mere
mortal could be part of. Like being told that Santa wasn’t real. So, it wasn’t until
we were invited to do scenes in English class that I got to try it for real and felt “it”
in my system. Before that, I wanted to be a psychologist, a solid gold dancer, or
I mentioned that I was awkward and shy. I never knew what to say to the other
kids. I was fine with adults but kids my age were terrifying. When I suddenly had
a script in my hands that gave me words, suddenly everything opened up. The
first real moment was in grade 8 when we did a scene called The Open Window.
For some reason, there was another adult watching us perform. He took me for a
walk after I’d done mine and told me I should audition for the city’s local theatre.
So… I guess I can blame the nameless stranger for encouraging me.
What did you learn from being on sets like Private Eyes and Frankie Drake
Hm. Every set is a little bit different. The energy, the whole feeling that’s created
by the genre and story, of course, but also … I find this so interesting and a really
good reminder. Forgive me.. I’m going on a tangent, but it has a point. I saw an
interview with Brain Cranston where he was talking about being “Lead” in a show.
It’s a word that I took for granted. Didn’t really give any thought to why we said
“lead”. To me, it just meant… the biggest part. But Brian Cranston was saying
that his role at the #1 on the call sheet meant that it was his job to lead the
production. His professionalism, his attitude, how polite or considerate he was to
crew and day players, what behaviours he exhibited literally led the show. So, to
go back to your question, one fascinating thing has been to see how each show
is being led. And on each set, that, among so many other things, gives a person
so much opportunity to learn.
All that said… specifically on the set of Frankie Drake, I learned a really great
lesson. One, I wish I’d learned a lot earlier, but I’m so grateful for it. I was cast in a
role I didn’t audition for. It was actually a bigger part than the one I went out for,
and originally, the part – an eccentric taxidermist – had been written for a 60-year-old man! The fact that I hadn’t solidified any impressions through the casting
process, and that the role was literally completely mine… gave me so much
freedom, I decided to push my freedom and play with it. In working on the script,
I got into it with a lot of ad-libbing and playfulness. When I got to set and we did
our rehearsals, I thought I’d just let some of the ad-libbing and play come out.
See what happened.
What happened was, the whole set laughed. Then I did it again. And the whole
set laughed. There’s this idea that a visiting actor should not stand out too much,
not make waves. But the director told me to not stop talking, and they eventually
took a line away from one of the leads in order for me to play as much as I could.
On the Frankie Drake set, I learned about the freedom of play.
Of course, the important part is the ability to read the room and to come prepared.
Not just throwing out whatever to make your part bigger. What I was doing was
very much in the lines of the tone of the show and the story. This was also true
on Gangland Undercover. I came in with a smaller role, but they kept writing me
more and more scenes until I had one of the most pivotal scenes in the show in
the last episode. That came from hard work and being prepared and open. I
also got to play outside the lines on the last episode of that show where we
(Paulino Nunes, who played my husband and I) improvised a fight just before our
house was invaded by special police and he was dragged away. The director
just let me keep going with my response and the DOP stayed on me. It felt so
free. That’s what I love. Feeling alive and free when it’s completely in synergy
with the story.
You moved from your hometown of Edmonton years ago to pursue your
acting dream and now you’re doing the same but this time heading to LA.
How difficult is it to pick up and move away all for an opportunity?
I am! And the two events are actually very parallel. I had finished theatre school
in Edmonton and was saving up for a move – I wasn’t sure where yet. Toronto or
New York, I thought – when an old teacher of mine living in Toronto called me and
said that she’d moved into a house with an artist and they had a spare room. I
had two days to decide and one month to get there. I called all my friends and
said I was leaving in a month!
About two and a half weeks ago. I started to help my amazing and gorgeous
friend Kate Kelton prepare for a role in a film. Reading for her over zoom as the
other characters. She encouraged me to audition, and when I booked the role, it
also meant that I was launching into the 01 visa process. I call it a shotgun visa.
Like a shotgun wedding. haha. It’s so fast. In less than a month, I’ll be leaving
to shoot. Then I’m looking at a whole new life. My head is still spinning. This is
the kind of opportunity that comes so rarely. I really feel grateful and excited.
Is it difficult? To be honest, I’ve really created some trenches for myself here in
Toronto. I have a home in Kensington Market that I’m so in love with. Hearing
about rent over there… I know that my home environment will be a very different
story. So, that’s something to wrap my head around. And when I moved to
Toronto, I knew one person. But also, times have changed. Back then, people
had more time. They would just show up at your place and ring the buzzer, so
finding friends and spending time building friendships was easier. I’m
anticipating a fair amount of adjustment. To the city, but also to the social life.
But… if it gets challenging, I will just keep the attitude that it’s an adventure.
Haha. Maybe ask me in a year. 😛
The reason you’re in the process of heading out to LA is for a new feature.
What can you tell us about your latest project?
What CAN I say? My friend Kate has signed an NDA… I haven’t but that might
just be a technicality. So… I will say, that it’s kind of an Ocean’s Eight meets
Promising Young Woman. Almost entirely female cast, the writer/director is an up
and coming Latinx woman who’s like kindness and fire all wrapped up in a
person who seems to be willing to make the industry work for her by working with
people she likes, rather than bending to the “game”. Can you tell I’m excited?
And so impressed with her. When we had our first conversation about the role
and me coming, she immediately felt like a friend. But she also has a really good
head on her shoulders and the projects she has coming up after this… let’s say
I”m really happy to be getting to know her now!
Another very cool thing is that so many of the actors involved in this film so
happen to be those of us who might have been feeling a bit disenfranchised.
We’d either reached the end of our rope with the industry and had or were about
to leave for another path, or are a victim of sexual assault within the industry in
some way. Although, I hate to use the word victim.
A little hint I can give is that my role is as the Lieutenant of a Special Victims
Bureau, which has been really fascinating, and a little heartbreaking, to
research. The movie does touch on some very real themes, but ultimately, it
focuses on how women band together and support each other and aren’t victims.
And it’s done with a lot of humour and just enough dark comedy to balance it all
out. I really feel like a lot of women are going to respond to this one.
You’re also in the process of bringing your play, “Peeler” into a feature film.
How’s the process coming along and when can audiences expect to see it?
The process is not a straight line, but I’ve worked hard on the script, a part of the
process I don’t think I’ll ever stop, even on set, and I have producers on board
who really love it. It’s a matter of pulling the pieces together and making it!
When? Let’s say… I’m/we’re hoping to go to camera within the next year.
How have you evolved as an actress since you first started out?
Good question. I think it’s been a lot like the Labyrinth. Some draw our journey
towards goals/purpose/life in general as a kind of zig-zag line on a graph. Or a
squiggly one from point A to point B. But the labyrinth is a kind of coil that moves
you closer and further away on each pass. Sometimes you feel like you are
completely in the wrong place when in actuality, you are always circling
concentrically closer and closer to the centre.
In a way, the more I learn and develop, the closer I get to the centre of what it
was that brought me to acting to begin with. But I had to study with this teacher
who bogged me down with all of this technical stuff and my acting got really bad
for a while, and then I needed to meet that teacher who inspired me, and then I
had to walk away for a while and write a play and on and on.
Basically.. the way I’ve evolved is that I’ve (hopefully) become more and more
me. Because what we are doing, is connecting who we are and what we know to
these words on a page, and these situations in a story, putting our energy on
another person, and letting it all go, in hopes that it will reach a group of people
sitting in a dark theatre who want to feel like they aren’t alone, right? The more I
get older and mature into myself, the more my “evolution” is just… to being able
to sit in myself and be truthful. To be more me.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
I’m going to cheat! I mean… be willing to really look at yourself and know
yourself, so that you are free to be …well free and connected to another person
in the moment in your work. Kind of repeating what I said above. But… I”m also
going to cheat by repeating what I saw Meryl Streep say to a young actress who
asked her that on a talk show. She said, “live feelingly”. I think what she meant
by that is to be fully awake, fully alive, and to experience all of it.
Other than that, I’d say follow what your heart says. If you are feeling inspired to
go train in New York or London, do it! If you want to start a theatre company and
produce and write bizarre plays out of a storefront, do it! If you feel like a
university program that gives you a degree is the right thing for you, do it! There
is no right. Even travel, or joining the military, or getting a degree in something
that seems completely different, can all lead you straight into a successful career.
Every actor is so different, that’s what makes it so great. And if you look at the
bios of your favourite actors, you will see that each one arrived from a very very
different path. So really… do what brings you alive. And take care of your mental
You’re also a three-time pole dancing champion and you’ve studied opera.
How did these opportunities come up and how do you find time to pursue
these outside interests in addition to your acting career?
The most bizarre combination triple threat of all time!
When I was young, I told my Mom I wanted singing lessons. What was in my
mind when I said it was that I wanted to learn how to sing like Whitney Houston.
What my Mom did, was send me to a teacher who specialized in opera. I was
entered into the Conservatory grading system and competed in the music festival
every year. Haha. Kind of like how I wanted to be a solid gold dancer, but ended
up in ballet for six weeks. It turned out, though, that I was really good at it. I just
had the right instrument and a natural ability. I know it sounds like bragging, but
it was just one of those things. It was easy for me. And so, when it was time to
start my career as an opera singer, I stopped. I didn’t want it to compete with
acting. It still makes me a little sad sometimes because nothing feels like singing
opera. Your whole body vibrates with sound. But I was young and poor and felt
like I had to decide. The good thing is, I put a beautiful aria into my play Peeler,
which is one of the most special moments in the play. So, I haven’t lost it. 🙂
Pole dancing is a different story. I found it at exactly the right time. I had
been in a bad relationship that had emptied me out. Learning that deep feminine
movement was incredibly healing, getting stronger, and feeling like I could fly was
immensely empowering, creating relationships with other women who not only
supported but celebrated my sexiness was a revelation. I actually ended up
leaving acting for a short bit to “be a dancer” for a year or two. To compete and
put as much of myself into it as possible.
I guess the “finding the time in addition to” part is something I still need to work
on. That said… I wrote my play with both pole and opera in it. Best of all worlds.
What’s else do you have going on outside of acting?
Outside of acting, I’ve spent a lot of time developing as a writer. I’ve also entered
into the wave of women learning about our eroticism and somatic movement as a
form of healing. Over covid, I’ve been learning a lot, and so far, I’ve been
certified as an Erotic Somatic Educator. I’ve been studying other avenues such
as shamanistic healing processes, and I’ll be starting a program with an amazing
somatic therapist to learn, and get certified, from him as well. I’ve been
neglecting painting, but I’d like to pick that up again soon as well. Too many
Let the readers know where to find you online.
I am the worst with the Instagram/Twitterverse. I am on Facebook. Kiran
Friesen. And, I am planning to give more energy to Instagram.