– – By Elizabeth Mochrie
The Toronto Acting Academy for Television and Film doesn’t just provide its students with classes and the chance to work with seasoned professionals, it also sends them on acting jobs, providing them with the opportunity to gain real on-set experience.
It’s a Saturday morning in late July, but the forty TAA students who have shown up to be a part of a commercial shoot bright-eyed and energetic. Since taking classes with the academy, many of them have already worked behind the camera, as extras on commercials or even acting in principal roles on short films, thanks to TAA. Students are regularly informed of auditions and acting jobs in Toronto. Most of the jobs the students are sent to are commercials and instructional videos, but it’s valuable experience, helping students to build resumes, experience the industry first-hand and learn what it’s like to work on set.
And so many of the kids know the drill for the day: long hours of waiting off-set and doing multiple takes. Yet this doesn’t appear to phase any of them or dampen their enthusiasm a bit.
Patience is definitely a virtue, according to TAA student Samantha Kelly, 19, who has been acting professionally for the past three years, but doing background and commercial work is also “fun, a great way to test the waters…figure out where you belong in the industry. It’s always experience in the long run.” But passion and enthusiasm don’t count for nothing, she explains: “I think you’ve got to love it, because when you love what you do, the waiting feels like nothing.”
So while Joana Reale, 14, admits that this kind of acting work is “repetitive sometimes,” she is nonetheless eager and excited to be working. “When I heard about the shoot today, I was so excited,” she says. Another TAA student, Taylor Evans, 16, is also looking forward to the day: “It should be fun. I’m excited.”
But even with all their enthusiasm, how do all these young actors handle the long days and hours of waiting? A crew member explains that these full-day shoots frequently involve card games and M&M betting pools, but for most of the students the answer is simple enough: socializing.
“You never really meet people that you don’t want to talk to,” Rylee Johnson, 16, says, and the other students are quick to agree. Doing commercial and background work isn’t only great job experience, it’s a great way to meet people – people you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to meet. And from the looks of things, the actors have taken this to heart: the large cafeteria room that has become Actor Central for the day is full of tables, each with a group of young, chatting actors.
The students all want to be here, and it shows.
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