ACTRA and the end of the Auto Show

Working at the Auto Show is a great opportunity for actors, writers and creatives who have the time. A history of trade shows for the campground also really prepared me for the hours on your feet, repeating the same things to every passerby, hoping to hook one into an actual conversation. I am so grateful I got the opportunity…but I really wish it was at a different time.

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Last Wednesday I got up early and spent as much time as I could at the ACTRA conference before having to get to the auto show. This meant I had breakfast while catching up with a lovely actress I met there last year, then watched some TIPs before slipping out. Having co-written, produced and starred in my own TIP this past November, I was particularly interested in what other members were able to achieve. I loved how others played to their skills, using knowledge of sound to make a thought-provoking masterpiece, or equally made use of actors and locations that were available to them. It was so inspiring and I can’t wait to make more movies, and to hopefully see mine at next year’s conference.

On Thursday, I also spent as much time at ACTRACon as I could, but in this case it was just the mingling, and getting some very important questions answered from the various booths, that hadn’t been set up yet the day before.

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Less than an hour after I got to work, my agent called to say I had a self-tape audition for a Christmas Movie. This was amazing and felt a bit like a sign, because I had spent a chunk of time the day before telling one of my colleagues how I would absolutely love to be in Christmas movies and Hallmark movies and all of those, cheesy, feel-good films that you can almost always predict, but still make you feel warm and fuzzy at the end. This one seemed perfect for me. However, I haven’t been getting into a lot of rooms, audition-wise, and one theory is that it’s because I’m always me in every performance, I never fully give myself in to the character. This time, I worked on it with Ayisha, my life guru extraordinaire, and I’m not sure how the casting director feels about it, but I am proud of myself for taking a risk and hopefully showed them something interesting enough to be brought back, even if it isn’t for this part.

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On Saturday, finishing at 10 pm meant I had to rush to The Carlu for the ACTRA Awards, amidst a torrent of hockey fans. I had changed at work and put the final touches in the elevator on the way up. I had reserved my ticket before booking the auto show and very much debated whether I would make it or not. It was a combination of me realizing that my reserving a ticket meant someone else hadn’t been able to go, and one of my co-workers reminding me how much I would regret it if I didn’t go that finally pushed me to get there.

As soon as I walked in, I knew I had made the right decision. I immediately ran into someone I knew, then got to watch the end of the Awards before mingling with friends. Last year I had gone with a solid group of friends, and ran into a few people I had met at the conference. This year I went alone, but I knew so many people. Some stunt actresses I knew from various trainings, the kindest casting director, creators I met through YEAA, ladies from background, my fearless leaders from TAWC…and gorgeous Shiva, whose boyfriend played photographer for us. My coworker was right; I was so happy that I went. I also came home to homemade, meat crust pizza, so the night was a win on all fronts.

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Yesterday was my last day at the auto show, so we all went out for a bite and some drinks to celebrate. You get close when you spend 12 hours a day with people, and I definitely hope to hang out with these people again. Maybe at next year’s show…ready for round 2?

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.”

-Ryan Blair

Books, BJJ and a Bday

My first week of February has been pretty busy on getting out there and doing things, but I have been very lazy when it comes to administrative tasks. Lazy probably isn’t the best explanation as to why I’m not getting things done, but nearly coughing out a lung wouldn’t really prevent me from being more productive, it just makes it a lot more tempting to cuddle up with a tea and read a book. Or sleep. I blame dry air, cold temperatures and being the guinea pig for people to learn their BJJ chokes.

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I skipped out on a few BJJ classes so I wouldn’t contaminate my training pool, but before getting sick I also got to try out the takedown class with Olympian badass Ohenewa Akuffo. Gözde and I had taken her workshop months ago, so we thought we would progress quickly through her simple beginner’s step, but she actually intended for us to focus on that one move the entire class. Which was boring up until the first time she came to see us and we realized there were a million tiny elements that we were missing out on and had to work to incorporate.

I did 2 days of background on the closest I have come to being continuity in Toronto. Acting is obviously still my main dream and priority, but I have loved every time I’ve had the opportunity to become familiar with a set and the people on it. It’s one of the big reasons I wanted to try stunts, because that’s another way you get to be on the same set, day after day, a part of a bigger whole, an ensemble…a set family. So the dream is still to be a series regular on a tv show, or one of the leads in a film that will allow me to be on the same set every day for a while, but in the meantime, these little opportunities fuel my dreams.

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Last week was Gözde’s birthday, so on Saturday after class we went out for supper at A La Turk, where I got my first taste of Turkish food. Every table got some complimentary puffy, Turkish balloon bread with a variety of dips, then I apparently ordered the least Turkish item on the menu, the Chicken Fillet Pide. From what I understand, Pide just means boat shaped pizza, and it’s fabulous. I did try all the other meals, which were delicious, including kebabs and Soujuk (Turkish sausage) Pide. For dessert, I went with what I knew, ordering Baklava, while they ordered Kunefe and Sutlac. The Sutlac is basically rice pudding that they covered with hazelnut, while the Kunefe was hands down my favorite. Since it’s a combination of vermicelli, cheese, pistachios and honey it sounds disgusting, but it was crazy, melt-in-your-mouth amazing. After dinner we went back to our place so I could be introduced to Borat. I don’t know if it was more entertaining to watch the movie, or their reactions to it (and me).

Side hustles this week included ultrasounds, training for simulations and manning a voting booth in Oshawa, which means I got a bunch of reading done. Chelsea’s Handler’s My Horizontal Life was a funny, quick read that made me nostalgic for the short-lived sitcom of years ago. #Girlboss by Sophie Amoruso was inspiring and enlightening and definitely makes me want to get out there and do things, but I have so far been unsuccessful in convincing my boyfriend to read it. Apparently #dudeboss doesn’t sounds as cool? And, after thoroughly enjoying Someday, Someday, Maybe (and perhaps finding some motivation and determination from) Lauren Graham’s work of fiction, I have been devouring her autobiography/collection of essays, Talking as Fast as I Can. I’m also trying not to read it too fast though, because then it will be over.

To round off the week, I spent some time with the boyfriend and his family, and an evening of Self-Tapes with Ayisha. I missed this girl and see there is a reason why #allthethings became my hashtag when I was hanging out with her all the time. We truly do get through #allthethings, from relationship advice and catching up to self-tapes and career advice and future planning and pastry eating and badass momentum creating. Hopefully we can do more of that now we’re both in the same country/province again.

“You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a minimum-wage work ethic.”

-Stephen C. Hogan

January 2019

This year started off with me joining in on a lot of new traditions. After having celebrated Christmas with my family, we came back to Toronto to celebrate New Year’s with my boyfriend’s. New Year’s is a big deal in his family, so we went to a dinner/party on the 31st, then spent most of the 1st at his parents’, where friends came over to ring in the New Year.

It was a short stay in Toronto before we went back to Montreal for Rikki and Jonathan’s wedding. We decorated the hall and had a little party on Friday before a sleepover, then Saturday was all about hair and makeup and getting everyone ready for the ceremony. They had a photographer that they’d met in Italy who took pictures of us getting ready, during the ceremony and all night long. We may or may not have started crying long before Rikki got anywhere near the aisle.

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My brother officiated, and there were very few dry eyes by the time he was done his introduction. Because Jonathan is French and Rikki is English, it was a bilingual ceremony, but Rikki said her vows in French, letting Jonathan say his in English. It was beautiful.

The night was a blast from beginning to end. Delicious food, amazing company, personal serenades and heartfelt speeches. I also had the very best date for the night, who stayed by my side on the dance floor because he knew I wanted to dance, even though I’m very sure he didn’t. We had a brunch on Sunday before driving back to Toronto.

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We got back to training at 4 points and welcomed back our coaches from their holidays. Ayisha, knowing my slightly obsessive planning, got me a migoals planner, which I spent the better part of 3 days using to figure out my next five years. It’s always a challenge to balance dreaming and reality, but I am so excited to make everything I wrote down come true.

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Eventually, I had to go back to Montreal to work at the Auto Show. I had 2 days of training, then one day to figure out my taxes (always fun) before a 10 day run in the Buick Café. The job was pretty easy, because most people like you when you’re handing out free coffee, but my favorite part was the people I worked with, who taught me the very basics of being a barista when we weren’t busy. I don’t exactly like coffee, but I did enjoy making it.

I was working during almost all of my usual Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, but I did manage to barter my way to be able to go to 3 classes at 3 different gyms. At BTT headquarters an awesome purple belt tightened up my moves before we learnt some half guard stuff. At the St-Hubert branch I was first considered a newbie, then once I proved myself with the first few moves, my training partner decided to teach me some of the blue belt curriculum. And at the Beloeil gym, I taught some curriculum to a fellow white belt before getting in some intense rolls.

A storm delayed my coming home to Toronto, so I got to do a day of UDA background work, which was great because I got to catch up with a friend from McGill.

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When I finally got to drive back to Toronto, I stopped on my way for a quick interview with Danny MAlin for the Yes Lets Make a Movie film festival. This guy works so hard for the Montreal acting community and hustles like you have no idea. It was an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait for the festival in September.

My first month of the year was a bit of a whirlwind and over before I got to do most of the things I wanted to. Time to make a game plan for February.

What about you? How was your January?

“So I just want to say to the people that are at home and not working as frequently as they want, you’re just one job away. You’re plenty talented. Hang in there.”

-Jason Bateman in his SAG acceptance speech

Gemeaux in Montreal

So it turns out that the event we went to during TIFF was not so much a TIFF event, as TIFF adjacent. It was honoring Rosamund Pike and her new film, A Private War, but it had more to do with female empowerment than the international film festival. It was an honor to be invited and is the exact kind of thing I hope to get involved in someday. I am putting this TIFF down as the one I paid attention to, so next year I will know what to expect and what I want to be a part of.

The following weekend I headed back to Montreal, where it was mostly family with a big touch of fancy. On Friday night, we went out for supper with my family, then came home where Ayisha discovered my secret past as commercial actor. My parents then decided to whip out the videos, which prove that once upon a time I was a cutie.

Saturday started out with a mimosa brunch before we went bridesmaid dress shopping for Rikki’s wedding. Three of us said yes to the dress J (does that count for bridesmaids?) After shoe shopping with Ayisha and meeting her mom, we again had supper with all my family, then went home and watched American Ninja Warrior while knitting. A perfect combo, right?

Sunday was Gemeaux day. I hung out with my friend JF, plotting shorts and catching up while Ayisha got ready and went to the afternoon gala, where she won the Gemeaux for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Unite 9. I got to walk the red carpet and be her date for the evening gala, where her show was on fire and she presented an award.

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It was a night of highlights, but I think one of my favorite moments was walking into Reuben’s after it was all over, decked out in our gorgeous gowns and ordering some smoked meat. We changed back into our normal clothes and just hung out. Still, it wasn’t like the fairytale was over and the carriage was turning back into a pumpkin though, because this is life. It was eye opening to see that this was all just a part of the life of being an actor. Just like being in Los Angeles simultaneously made me feel like my dreams were so close and also so far away, this night made them feel equally attainable and impossible. Because it’s all just a part of the hustle. One minute you’re on stage accepting an award and the next you’re running lines on your way to an audition. Or one minute fans are tweeting to say your performance brought them to tears and the next you’re being released from a hold without even being notified. The closer I get to working actors, the more the dream becomes a possibility, but also a reality. Because I understand the ups and downs and how making it doesn’t change things into constant trailers and red carpets. Which is why you gotta love it. And I do. I love all of it.

On Monday morning I worked a bit with my mom and helped Ayisha with a self tape before we slowly started making our way back to Toronto. Her mom treated us to a delicious lunch and we returned our dresses to the incredible designer who loaned them to us and proceeded to treat us like friends once we get there.

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We got to Toronto much later than expected, but it was a wonderful weekend. And I couldn’t be prouder of Ayisha. This girl works so hard at everything she does and doesn’t even realize how amazing she is. And as busy as all of her endeavors constantly make her, she is always trying to help others, with small things like self tapes and finding an agent, to huge things like figuring out your entire life. She’s incredible. I’m in awe of her; this weekend and always. I am so honored and lucky to have her as one of my closest friends, and I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I hadn’t walked into her gym 9 months ago.

 

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”

-Flavia Weedn

End of Summer

The last few weeks have mostly been spent at the gym, with almost 2 weeks of impromptu summer camps and all my usual night classes. A certain someone going off to Europe meant I also had some extra time to do a lot of writing. Bittersweet I guess, but it is awesome to be creating and climbing into all of these imaginary worlds again. Unlike when I am just writing for fun, or with an eventual goal of turning them into something, this time we had specific plans for everything we were writing.

Johnny spent days at my house working on a one-pager submission. He came over so we could start working on it Sunday night, then decided he wouldn’t leave until it was done. This meant waiting at home while I was doing summer camp or BJJ classes, then writing late into the night to make sure we had the story down.

We finished it on our drive to Montreal for Labor Day. Most of my family was out of town, but I did get to spend some time with my grandmother, and stopped by for my great aunt’s birthday. Friends from the gym were in Montreal as well, so we met up for supper on the Saturday and came to swim at my place on Sunday night after everyone had come to BJJ that morning.

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I had a catching up/production meeting with Christine as well, and think it is amazing how far this project has come. What started out as a small reaction shot with a bit of dialogue for our stunt demos has turned into a 20 minute short with possible drone shots. And we went from who can we get really easily? To who will be the best person to make this story come alive? The project is getting bigger, and so is our investment in time, money and everything. By the end of the shoot I will have ripped my bleeding heart out of my chest and held it out for the world to see (not literally, but close) and I am so terrified, but so much more excited to do this.

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It was mostly a relaxing weekend spent with friends and family, but I also got to work on organizing my room, and finished writing a short film I have been working on/talking about/putting off for months. Then, on the drive back to Toronto, Johnny and I worked on an idea for something we hope to film in the next coming months.

Some other cool things I’ve done:

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Women in View networking event with my ladies from TAWC. The panel was on navigating TIFF, but it’s the undertone of women supporting each other throughout the evening that left me feeling inspired and excited about what is next.

Krav maga. I got a groupon for this ages ago and keep meaning to go, but I am always too busy. It is about to expire, so I made time. The first class had a guest instructor from France, so I was also the unofficial translator, and the second only had 4 students, so we got a lot of hands on training and adjustments.

A bunch of background days. I love being on set. I love meeting people with similar interests and talking about the industry. So getting paid to write movies and hang out with people is always fun. It’s especially fun if you happen to end up interacting with the actors in the scene, listening to them do comedy and a Q & A or discussing afternoon tea places on the breaks.

YEAA meeting. We are having a fundraiser for the 6 shorts that were made last month, so stay tuned for more details 🙂

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We had a guest teacher for NOGI. I’ve met Ilan before, but this was my first time attending one of his classes. He taught us a bunch of BJJ warm ups we could do on our own in a small space (so you don’t have an excuse to not train) as well as real world applications for some of the moves we were doing. Since most of my BJJ is stuff I can’t use unless I’m already on the ground, it is always fun to learn stuff you can do and stay standing up.

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Trina’s pool party. I met Trina at the ACTRA conference and finally made it to one of her pool parties. This girl has such a huge heart. It was lovely to catch up, chill in the hot tub and stare off at the Toronto skyline

And finally, TIFF started this week, so I went to the Young Filmmaker’s TIFF Opening party with Ayisha and Dave. I have another such event to get to tonight, but I’ll tell you all about it in my next post!

 

“Most filmmakers will tell you that if you write your own films, it’s the most expensive psychoanalysis you could get. It’s costing a fortune, it’s costing millions, just for me to go to an analyst, but it’s wonderful because [then] you can go on living.”

-Denys Arcand

All the Things

When I got back from Montreal I had a week of summer camp, during which I also had to finish all of the pre-production for my short, which we decided to name All The Things.

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Camp was awesome, with 2 kids I particularly enjoy, who were really into all of the acting and performing things. My favourite part was probably when they asked to do my short. Not only were they super sweet in telling me how much they enjoyed it and it was touching, they were absolutely adorable and heartbreaking when they put it on for me. I am hoping they enjoyed themselves, but I was a pack of nerves about the 18th.

We had a rehearsal on Tuesday night, where we lost our location, then went scouting for a new one and found a gorgeous place. The director had to work late, so we set up shots and stuff without him, then quickly ran through the performance aspects once he arrived. Even though I wrote it, he and Ayisha would bring adjustments that I sometimes had to argue with, story-wise, but others made it a lot more compelling. And terrifying for me as the actress, who would have to do these things. But more than anything, I was excited to be doing what I love and stepping into Charlie’s shoes.

On Wednesday we created some props and did some research for craft, which resulted in a wrong turn that led to a new location. You see, I originally planned on having my short in a beautiful field with tall grass…but then research told me that was not going to work out, and the story changed. Almost immediately, the landscape shifted to an urban setting, desolate, overrun with weeds, with just enough hints so you realize this is not the world we currently live in. Our first location, which didn’t work out, was the alley behind my house, which was perfect in that respect, with weeds growing everywhere and abandoned cars and objects …there were other, logistics issues, but it was what I was looking for. The forest location we found while scouting was beautiful, but it wasn’t at all what I had been looking for. The location we stumbled onto accidentally, however, went back into the idea of an overrun wasteland. To a lesser degree, but it was still there.

On Friday I went to William F. White’s to get our equipment. Winning the competition gave me a budget from YEAA (Young and Emerging Artists Assembly), and it also gave me all of the equipment we would need thanks to the partnership with White’s. I must have inherited some of my parents’ Tetris playing skills (my mom on the computer, my dad with the trunk when we go on road trips) because I managed to stuff all of it in my car. One of my biggest regrets from that weekend is not taking a picture.

Once I unloaded the car I was ready to fill it up again with food. Luckily, this time I had help. I definitely did not make for good company on date night, because my mind was partially still on the million things I had to do or hadn’t done for the short. More than one person tried to reassure me by telling me it would soon be over, but that wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. I love creating my own projects and writing and acting…I didn’t want it to be over, I just wish I had prepared more or organized myself better.

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On Saturday we headed out to my new location, the one I had stumbled on by accident. I dropped my roommate off with some of the stuff, then went to load the car up with the rest of the equipment. I had completely forgotten to tell my co-lead that we were meeting on location, not at my place as I had originally intended, so I sent someone to get her while my roommate helped me with set design.

Eventually, my director pulled me aside, away from everyone else, and told me that the location wasn’t working for him or the rest of the crew. They would still film here if it was what I really wanted, because it’s my project, but as far as the look and the end result, they thought I was making a big mistake and strongly urged me to reconsider. He felt the current location didn’t convey wasteland or desolation either, it was just ugly instead of how gorgeous the forest would be. Since I am eager to please and not one to stand up for myself, especially when I am not strong enough in my convictions, I agreed and we moved over to the wooded location.

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This meant putting all of the equipment back into the cars and making a few trips, since there was a lot of equipment and a bunch of people as well. Once there, we had to carry all of this equipment about 15 minutes into the nature trails to reach our filming location. Which was beautiful, without a doubt. All luscious and green and full of life.

I had all kinds of sunscreen, but no bug spray, which led to some really interesting takes once we started filming. At one point while we were doing Rosie’s close up, I did the entire scene with one eye closed because there was a bug attacking it, trying to get in. Rosie also did an amazing job of ignoring a bug that was devouring her neck, but they saw it on camera and told her to swat it away.

Ayisha’s flight from Montreal had been delayed, so she got to set as we were doing the first takes. I am so grateful for all of the people who came that day to help me out. Some thought they would be useless and just sit around all day, but I definitely could not have done it without them. For heavy lifting and guarding the equipment, sure, but also for being there and doing the things and letting me delegate a bit so I could concentrate on other things. Which didn’t exactly work, but it was my bad more than anyone else’s.

We stopped my close up after a few takes because I wasn’t getting there, leaving it for the end, which was good, but also so much more stressful than if I had been able to get it out of the way earlier on. We had done a rehearsal to figure out the blocking before we had started filming, and I had hit all my marks then, but once we started filming, if the camera was on me I just couldn’t.

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When all we had left were my close ups, Ayisha came to talk to me, to figure out what I needed in order to be able to get to where I needed to go. We had given up on a lot location- and prop-wise because she felt the performance was going to carry it. I was having doubts. It was from talking with her that I realized that both today and last time I was acting in something I wrote, I was so stressed out and things weren’t going the way I wanted but I was keeping it all in and trying to be pleasant and there for everyone else. Maybe I couldn’t cry because there had been so many times today when I had wanted to cry but just pushed it back, knowing this wasn’t the time or the place.

I asked for the takes I needed, trying things differently, that went against what I had been asked to do, but that got me to where I needed to be. We had one take where I got there, both emotionally and for the tears, and hopefully that one time was enough.

We did some room tone because it was officially a wrap on principal photography.

I think it took about an hour to get all the equipment back into the cars, and then we headed back to White’s to return it all so another team could use it equipment in the morning.

Finally, once I got to my boyfriend’s that night, I could breathe. I didn’t have to worry about locations or not being able to cry or letting people down or not being good enough. Production was done and I was proud of what we accomplished.

I also had a million more things I had learnt on this production, which is good because the goal is to be continuously improving. Instead of beating myself up or stressing out about everything I could have done differently, I took the rest of the weekend to relax, to go for a brunch with my boyfriend where I wasn’t preoccupied with all the other things that need to get done…and then I spent the rest of my Sunday catching up on all of my administrative stuff and figuring out the next steps for the short J

Obviously, a huge thank you to YEAA and everyone there and at ACTRA who took a chance on me and made this whole thing possible. To everyone who gave of their time or talent or support…you are my heroes <3

“Done is better than perfect.”

-Sheryl Sandberg

“By seeking and blundering we learn.”

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Montreal & Classes

I spent Saturday at Imago Theater’s Stage Combat workshop to benefit Artista, their free mentorship program for young women. It was given by Anita Nittoly (from the John Stead workshop) with help from David Chinchilla, both super talented and from Toronto.

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The morning was spent learning unarmed combat, followed by an afternoon of swordplay, which was awesome. I really wish I had paid more attention/remembered more in previous stage combat classes, but I am making up for it now. This was a workshop for beginners, which was exactly what I needed. I am so lucky to be able to participate in all kinds of incredible workshops and trainings, but it was really good for me to just be able to learn the basics from an expert who also knows my goals and always seems to be right there to help me out.

There were also some familiar faces at the workshop, and new friends, which was really nice. At the end, everyone was asking Anita and David when they would be coming back, but I was thrilled with the knowledge that I now live in Toronto with them (so I don’t have to wait for them to come back in the Fall so I can build on the skills they taught us today).

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On Sunday, I worked with a bunch of my McGill friends, and got some work done in the downtime, before going out for Father’s Day with my family. I planned this trip to Montreal around the fact that I was convinced it was Father’s Day, so my dad humored me, even though it is actually the 17th, not the 10th.

On Monday, I started off my day with a mother-daughter hike, then eventually made my way to Complexe BTT Beloeil for some Jiu-Jitsu. They were working on curriculum, which just so happens to be the same as at 4 Points. Still, this absolutely does not mean that I didn’t learn anything. We did each technique less times, so I got further down the list than I usually do, and my partner taught me a few new locks (that I can’t actually do until I’m a blue belt) to prepare me because I kept putting myself in positions where it would be so easy for him to use them on me.

After technique, we rolled and it was really interesting to go against a girl who is pretty close to my size and also a white belt (at least for the next few days). The other rolls were probably more technique and lessons, but I can always use those too.

That afternoon I met up with my friend Cindy, who is the sweetest person you will ever meet. She is so encouraging and supportive that time spent with her is like a nice big hug and a ray of sunshine, if that makes any sense.

She walked me over to my Meisner class, where we were a really small group. I took weekly drop-in classes for a few months last year, and came to this class once. I loved it but also hated it back then, because although I could tell it was helping me, I found it terrifying that you can’t prepare for Meisner. You can’t learn your lines or rehearse or plan out what you are going to do. This time I was out of practice and nervous, but I went anyway. Since there were only 4 of us, I worked for 2 of the 4 hours, where everything is brought up, especially my nerves and awkwardness. What comes off as charming and adorable in life is actually boring and frustrating up there, where you need to have an opinion and care and do all kinds of things that I barely scratched the surface of kind of doing. Still, it felt so good to be back at it and I had a great night. The work was exactly what I needed, watching the others was incredible and we finished it off with drinks at the pub. Once I am back in Toronto, I am definitely finding myself a Meisner class, and I’ll try to stick around more Monday nights in Montreal.

On Tuesday I spent the morning sliding and climbing at a park, then waddling in ice cold water with my nieces, before heading to jiu-jitsu at the BTT headquarters in Montreal. I have never been in a class with that many people before, and so many of them were women. I did technique with 2 different ones, each super nice and helpful. We worked on curriculum again, the one I know, but with a few slight variations. What I found really interesting is that whenever they did something different from the way I was taught, I would ask questions, so I not only learnt different ways of doing things, I learnt why each one is beneficial and when to use which.

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For the rolls, I was paired with a white belt first (another who will be getting her blue on Saturday), then a purple, followed by two black belts. All women. Since there are so many people, we would start with one person already in the other’s guard. I am getting better at keeping people in my guard, at least when rolling, but I still have a long way to go. I learnt so much from this class, from the technique to the rolling to the giving me tips and pointers once the roll was done…I now have another place I will train at whenever I’m back in town.

I spent the night with my parents, going to see Ocean’s 8 and watching American Ninja Warrior. They tease about me eventually being on the show, which I’m pretty sure will never happen, but I bet I can do a lot better on a second round of Tough Mudder 😉

On Wednesday I got in another hike with my mom, then went to train with Christine. She likes that she gets to work on her basics with me, and I really like that she teaches me cool new things by breaking it down into easy steps and is super patient. Other than the usual padwork and combos, we worked on our back falls, side falls and half twists. SO MUCH FUN! She made me lunch and we hung out after, until I had to rush to McGill in a panic because her clock was over an hour off.

Today I am at McGill all day, just hanging out and catching up with old friends (and I guess working too) before I head back to Toronto, with all kinds of new knowledge (and some bagels) in tow.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Baby Steps and Anniversaries

I started last week off right with an early morning hike on St-Hilaire with my parents. We used to go nearly every day last summer, so I have been missing my mountain, and was really glad to be back.

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After the hike I set off for Toronto, but not before stopping at a park to train with Alyssa. I wasn’t liking the way I would train every day in Toronto, then get to Montreal and do nothing, so it is really nice to have friends that I can train with every time I come to town. We did some pad work and she taught me some kicks, but an hour definitely wasn’t long enough.

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Once in Toronto, I pretty much went straight to 4 Points for Jiu-Jitsu. It was my friend Shiva’s first class, and while I have been doing this longer and know more technique, she is strong and fierce and tough and will definitely be annihilating me once she figures out what to do. A few of us ended up going out after class and talking for hours about the industry and stuff. I learnt a bunch of things and had a wonderful time

On Tuesday, I worked as an SP and at 4 Points, where I finished off my evening with NOGI. Shiva was there again, which is only the second time that I have not been the only girl for a NOGI class, the last time being when I brought Christine. Shiva is clearly committed and will probably be there as much as me now.

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On Wednesday I had a dry run as an SP in the morning, then spent the rest of the day hanging out/working with Ayisha. We got the footage Hubert Boorder put together after the workshop and it is incredible. The footage, yes, but also the fact that he took the time to put it all together for us. I am slightly flabbergasted, but then again everyone I speak to tells me that he is the nicest guy ever. Shiva was there again for jiu-jitsu, and for the steak night that came afterwards. It was the first time I actually ordered the steak rather than some other carb wrapped meat thing on the menu, and while it was very good, I think I prefer my burgers and chicken wraps.

On Thursday I sent my materials out to some Toronto agents, because although I have been consistently busy doing things, the agent search is definitely something that has been neglected as of late. Once that was done, I met up with Ayisha and had my first experience putting together ikea furniture. It probably would have gone better with a hammer, but we still accomplished our task. At NOGI that night, probably because I don’t listen when I am told that grabbing people’s heads won’t help me, David taught everyone how to choke me when I am in that position. I know that the guys all go easy on me; rolling slower, letting me get one (a few) over on them, not putting their weight on me and so on (appreciate the honesty Jonathon), but I also feel like they have been going slightly less easy on me, and that I am giving more of a (or hopefully a better) fight. So although I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do this move that made me feel like I was accomplishing something, I really appreciate the push it will give me to do better. I am a huge fan of baby steps and goals, so this month I wanted to not always be the one tapping out. I already transitioned from accustomating myself to being crushed under someone’s side control to making sure I never have more than one butt cheek and shoulder on the mat, but Ayisha has been pushing me to try harder and not let myself get to that position at all. Although the baby steps are more comfortable for me, they may not be the best idea. Yes, it is easier to turn onto my side rather than to get back up on my knees after I am thrown down, but I would clearly rather escape before someone closes their grip on me instead of getting myself used to being crushed. I take pride in always going back in there immediately after tapping out, but going into rolls assuming I am going to be the one to tap out is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And as Ayisha told me, I am clearly not giving my 100%, because I am not dead after a roll, and I should be (She gives the best motivational speeches ; ) )

On Friday I trained, working on choreography stuff in a martial art that I am completely unfamiliar with, before going on a date where I discovered there is a free farm/petting zoo thing super close to my house. I no longer have a kid living with me, but I was super excited, and can’t wait to bring my roommates to see it. I drove back to Montreal with a friend once it was over, ready for a fun, family-filled weekend.

On Saturday I went for a fitting for my bridesmaid dress, because it wasn’t quite right, then brought my cousins to the hall so we could help get everything set up for the party that night. Luckily, we finished just in time to get ready and have lunch before the photographer arrived for the photoshoot. We were a bit torn, because my grandfather loves being in pictures and my grandmother hates it, but ultimately, we want to record the memories, especially happy ones.

The party was incredible, not just as far as parties go (and getting to see everyone, friends and family, from near or far), but for what it represented. A huge reason why my grandparents do this kind of party is because they got tired of only seeing certain family members at funerals, so these ensure we will see everyone for happy occasions too. More than anything though, it was amazing because it celebrates not only their 80th birthdays, but the 60 years that they have spent being married to each other. They raised 3 kids and 6 grandkids, ran businesses, built buildings and kept not only our immediate family close, but everyone. Their door and their hearts are always open and they bring everyone together. A lot of people were saying my grandparents were their relationship goals because of the 60 years, and I hope to be lucky enough to get there as well, but it is so much more than the years. It is the love and respect they have for each other, how they are a team; an unbreakable team that can get through and accomplish anything.

On Sunday morning, I got up early and headed to Montreal to do a self-tape with Christine, who convinced me to try her protein shake, which was actually kind of delicious. The scene was in French, which is fun to practice, and she had to take on a bit of a different essence, which was really nice to watch, and made me really miss being in class all the time.

I had to leave to go train with Alyssa, again in the park, and again with the pad work and the kicks, but we did different ones, and worked on a combo as well. Hopefully we will put aside more time for our next training session, because I really enjoy working with and learning from her.

 

That afternoon, I went to the gym with a friend in stunts, thinking we were going to do more pad work, maybe learn a little combo or something, but instead we did all the weights and conditioning stuff they had told me to do back in April, and more. Dead lifts, split squats, pull ups, dips, abs, another kind of squats, neck exercises, other things I don’t know the name of…It obviously wasn’t as fun as what I thought we were going to do, but I can definitely see how necessary and beneficial it all was. And it will be a lot easier to keep up with it now that I have done it and know what it is supposed to look like. Also, there were a lot of things I wasn’t sure I could do, but just tried anyway, and felt like a total badass afterwards (there were also things I kind of failed at, but baby steps, and I’ll be better next time.)

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Once training was done, I went to my grandparents’ for another big family supper, where I finally got to meet Jaelyne, who is so sweet and adorable. She also has muscles that could give most people, including me, a run for their money.

On Monday my mom and I went for a hike, and then I met JF for coffee before driving with a friend back to Toronto. I had intentions of going to gymnastics that night, but my legs didn’t quite agree, and I was exhausted from a weekend of late nights and early mornings.  I don’t exactly hate my friend who trained me on Sunday, but let’s say they aren’t currently my favourite person either.

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”

-NAVY Seal

Get Busy Living

I have been journaling for as long as I can remember, first as a child, then on vacations, sporadically for a while, before a few years ago when I started journaling consistently, every single day. There are periods where I can look up entire conversations that I’ve had with people, nearly word for word. Lately, something has happened which is really upsetting, but also super awesome. I have become too busy to journal. Or at least to keep up with it the way I did. Which is sad because I liked the idea of being able to go back and know exactly what was going on, but seriously, it is so exciting that I am too busy living my life to be able to write about it.

On the Thursday of my last post, I spent the morning doing self-tapes with friends and watching Buffy, before going to work at 4 points. I didn’t make it to NOGI that night, because Midtown Med Spa, where Ayisha now does Lashes & Blades, was celebrating its anniversary with a fancy event. The people who work there waited in their rooms while clients (and potential ones) roamed around, drinking wine, enjoying food and asking questions. I spent some time batting my newly amazing eyelashes, and even participated in a live demonstration of lash extensions. It was fun to get dolled up and meet some interesting people, such as Ayisha’s friend Sarah, who was in town from Montreal. When the event was over, we all went out for supper.

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The following morning, I met Sarah at 4 points for a little photoshoot for her upcoming Extensa Method Training. She teaches stretching to Olympic divers, hockey players, Jiu-Jitsu teams…and that morning she taught some of it to me. It was a lot of fun, and so is she.

Not long after she headed out, Chie arrived for my boxing bootcamp. This was one of the rare occasions where I had someone else with me, but we still followed the same routine of circuit training and padwork. He very much enjoyed the fact that even as he put pressure on my wall sit, I still smiled.

We did some prep for the workshop that weekend, then I did the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, where we worked on all the chokes. Especially the ones involving the GI. Not my favorite, but who knows what will come in handy during a roll.

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That afternoon, Ayisha had a self-tape to do where she was an absolute badass, so we worked on it and did it a few times, then her boxing friend from Montreal gave us an hour long private session which was intense and soooo much fun. We did the scenes again with this new energy before calling it a day

Back at home, there was basically a party going on, with all my roommates, including the new and unofficial ones, and Christine, who was in town for the Hubert Boorder film fighting workshop. There was talking, food and then we watched Brad’s Status, to support all of the amazing Montreal talent they were lucky enough to have in it.

On Saturday Christine and I went to the workshop, which I will have a separate post on, then we had lunch and went to the Monkey Vault, where we practiced the short fight choreography we had been given. When my partner left, they were still working on their stuff, so I joined in on a new friend’s private parkour session. We worked on vaulting, which was one of my goals for this month, and I achieved some stuff I had been pretty sure I couldn’t do, which was really exciting. It’s really comforting to see that the more you do the things that scare you, the less scary they are and the more you can do.

That night, a bunch of us went out for supper at The Green Eggplant, then we went to see I Feel Pretty. I can understand why some people wouldn’t like the movie, but I did laugh a whole lot, and the company was amazing, so it was an awesome night.

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On Sunday we finished the workshop, running a little more than 2 hours over, which was unexpected, and incredibly generous of our Stunt Coordinator instructor. I absolutely loved pretty much every minute of it. A few of us went for supper afterwards, which is becoming a tradition that I very much enjoy.

On Monday, Christine had to head back to Montreal, but Alyssa stayed, so we went jogging with my roommate and did some padwork before meeting up with some guys who had trained in stunts with her in Montreal. It was a really nice, fun afternoon. Nearly everyone I have met who works (or wants to work) in stunts has been super nice, helpful and awesome.

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I finished off my day with Jiu-Jitsu, which must have been hilarious to watch, because I was sore in many places, and literally had to lift my head up with my hands before I could sit up, because my neck wasn’t quite up to the challenge.

On Tuesday, some people who are either trying to get into stunts, or just want to train and practice their basics, came to the gym and let me join in on their training. I absolutely love training and working on this kind of stuff every chance I get, so it was an amazing opportunity. I recently saw a stunt girl who posts a weekly tally of how many hours she spends training, and while I don’t think I need to broadcast it, I definitely want to make sure that I am putting in the time and working on my crafts. I was told that my job now is to train, and I intend to take this very seriously.

I spent the rest of the day with Ayisha, and this girl is amazing. Not only because I really enjoy hanging out with her, but because she gets things done. Once she sets her mind to something, she finds a way to make it happen, and it is really inspiring to watch. I finished off the day with NOGI, where there were more chokes and a lot of work to never have two butt cheeks or two shoulders on the mat. Definitely good advice, but I may have sometimes gone into a semi-bridge position for the butt cheeks, which was not what she meant when she gave that directive. After class, those who wanted could stay and be drilled on certain useful techniques, especially to prepare the guys who were participating in the Ontario Open. I was incredibly excited when one of the things we were doing was something that I had been taught and could do, while others hadn’t learnt it yet. Not because I felt like I was better than anyone, but because for once I got to help someone who had spent countless classes teaching me all the things. And honestly, I am just really excited when I get things.

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On Wednesday I did the morning boxing class with Chie, where I did my first deadlifts, and was told to be more careful when training, because he can’t work on my kicks when my shins are all bruised. It was still a really fun class where I sort of got to try sparring, and I’m sure I smiled even through the hard stuff.

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That afternoon I worked with Ayisha, then did some BJJ, but I had to leave early to get to a viewing party. Chris River, who is an awesome actor and a really great kid, was on that night’s episode of The Expanse, and he did a wonderful job. It was sweet and sad and cute and watching him and his mom watching the episode had to be the cutest thing ever. The kid is also hilarious, so we were thoroughly entertained.

We ended the night with steak night, which usually comes after jiu-jitsu, but who am I to say no to spending time with friends? (I used to do this a lot…with so many excuses…but I’m working on being much more ‘go with the flow’ and spontaneous and less shy and self-conscious) It was a great night. (or day actually, from start to finish)

I had SP training on Thursday, followed by working/hanging out with Ayisha. We have been working a lot on the film and tv side of things, which will soon include self-tapes, which are something I am very familiar with, from helping out friends, from class and from working as a reader. They’re an incredible opportunity to act and discover a character, and the perfect embodiment of “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. We mostly worked on that and updates for the website until I had to head home to Montreal, luckily with company, because otherwise you get very tired around 2 am…

One of my friends was locked out of his house when we got there, so he ended up staying over at my place, and getting picked up from my grandparents’ place Friday morning while I made cupcakes. I spent most of the day with my mom and aunt at my cousin’s, preparing for her sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party.

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When they headed home, I drove over to Paragym (and totally got lost walking from my car to the entrance) so I could train with Christine and Alyssa. At first we just did a warm up and worked on our kicks, but then Christine came up with a combo whose sole purpose was to run us through the gamut of reactions. We ran it a bunch of times with the different ways of avoiding getting hit, then filmed ourselves taking the blows, so we could see what sells and adjust accordingly. They were awesome and mostly had to adjust the height of their kicks or the angles of their punches, but I had a lot of work to do. From being too stiff to looking down to a bunch of other things, it took me a lot longer to get to a point where we were satisfied. I still have so much to work on, but every time we meet up and do things like this, I improve exponentially. I am at the complete bottom of the skills level, but that is completely fine with me. I am going to keep training with people and working on it on my own and watching the videos and learning from my mistakes and from other people. Because even if it takes me a million baby steps to get there, eventually, I will get there. And I am completely enjoying the journey, so while the destination will be awesome, it doesn’t really matter at the moment.

After a few hours, we went to Christine’s for a healthy, protein-filled supper, fun conversations, a clothing giveaway and some UFC videos. I am slowly starting to watch fights as not just a series of blurs until one person wins, but to be able to recognize what people are doing. It started when I went to see Tomb Raider and recognized all kinds of different martial arts and moves, but at the John Stead workshop, it kind of bugged me that I could remember the sequence okay, but wasn’t familiar enough with the moves to tell my partner more than punch, punch, kick. It’s a lot easier to remember the choreography when you can tell yourself right hook, uppercut, roundhouse, than if you just register whether it is the arm or the leg that is moving, which in itself is an improvement on how I used to watch fights. Again, I am a huge fan of baby steps.

On Saturday, there was more prep before the actual bridal shower. Chelsea showed up in a white dress, so she obviously wasn’t surprised, but I would like to hope she was happy with everyone who came and what her mom put together. There were games, so much food and the cutest/funniest video series from her fiancé answering questions about their relationship. I used to love going to showers when I was a little girl, and this one was no exception, but so much more exciting and a big deal because my cousins are like my siblings and we are all growing up. Which was pretty obvious when we got to the bachelorette party. I believe there is a ‘what happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party’ rule, but I can say that the food we had catered was delicious (so let me know if you need a take home chef in Montreal), I was overwhelmed and so touched by what people notice and think about me, and I did some more #allthethings. I also somehow agreed to participate in the next jiu-jitsu competition, because I missed all the guys from 4 Points participating in the Ontario Open. This means I have a little over a month to train and get ready for it. I would be terrified, but someone told me it helps to have no feelings when it comes to competitions, so I’m trying that for now.

Finally, Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent the day with the women who go way above and beyond what the title implies, and help make me the luckiest girl in the world.

“It’s not about what you tell your children, but how you show them how to live life.”

-Jada Pinkett Smith

"Your Job Is To Train"

When my friend was giving me the advice on stunts and pointed out that I was taking on a lot, I told him, “It’s fine, I don’t have a job.” To let him know I currently have a lot of free time. “No, your job is to train.” He pointed out. I do this for acting, finding ways to work on my craft even when I am not in class or on set, but this week definitely made me feel like I was making it my job to train in the physical sense as well.

On Tuesday, I decided to try out a Jiu-Jitsu class in Beloeil rather than just sticking to my elliptical and stuff I usually do when I go home, away from all the classes I take in Toronto. The teacher, Lee Villeneuve, gave a workshop a few weeks ago at 4 points, so when I found out he had a gym less than 10 minutes from my house, I knew I had to go.

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It started out with the usual warmup of jogging around and side steps and high knees and what not, but all too quickly, we got into cartwheels (which was fine), handstands and a multitude of things I had never done before. I tried my best to follow along, and luckily there were some really nice people who took the time to show me how to do the stuff I wasn’t quite getting. It would definitely be beneficial for me to keep working on all of these.

There was another girl there, so I worked on the techniques with her, and we rolled together for the first two rounds, before guys chose me as their partners for the last 2 rolls. Very much like the guys from 4 points when I first came in, it was a combination of rolling and coaching, but I really learnt a lot. And will be back for sure, not just for the training, but for the people. The girl I rolled with has currently become my inspiration (not that she knows) because she had no background in gymnastics or martial arts or whatever, but a year and a half ago she decided she wanted to get into stunts, so she trained and she worked hard and she made it happen. And that is badass.

On Wednesday I had a dry run at McGill before driving back to Toronto so I could work as an SP on Thursday.

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Once work was done, I met up with Christine, an actress who trains in stunts, that I met in class a few years ago. We were both signed up for an amazing workshop last weekend, so we went for a late lunch where she told me about her journey into stunts and gave me advice on what I should do and what I need in my stunt kit. Who knew that if you needed answers, all you had to do is ask the questions and everyone would be willing to help?

When we were done we went to 4 Points so I could help out and she could catch up with Ayisha, eventually staying way longer than she intended, and working with me for the NOGI class. Since Christine had only ever taken one class before, she went all out, even when we were just working on techniques, which was super frustrating when I couldn’t get it, but also really useful, because when you’re rolling, no one is going to help you (or even let you) sweep them. When we actually got to the rolling, I was with the guys, and one of them wanted to work on his balance when we start the roll standing, so I made many futile attempts to knock him off his feet. I think I managed it once? But learning what doesn’t work brings me closer to figuring out what does…right? We went back to my place and watched a bunch of stunt reels and fight scenes before going to bed.

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On Friday, we started the day off with Boxing at 4 points, with Chie. It was the first time I wasn’t alone for one of his classes, which was fun, but I do also love my private sessions 🙂 The biggest difference is that after the conditioning and the pad work was done, Chie stuck around to help us kill time before the jiu-jitsu class. Just for fun, Christine choreographed a fight, we ran it and then we filmed it, all within the span of a half an hour. When Chie left, Christine helped me work on my reactions to different punches and stuff. It all felt like play.

We learnt some new techniques in Jiu-Jitsu, and got in a roll before I rushed over to Ayisha so she could give me eyelash extensions. I am so clueless in this department that I originally thought she meant those fake lashes you glue on and take off at the end of the day with eye makeup remover. I clearly had no idea what to expect.

I was her first ever attempt, and a complete success, if I do say so myself. It took a lot longer than the glue-on fake lashes I thought I was getting, but I was basically on a bed, comfy and bundled up in a blanket, listening to music and having conversations…the only drawback I can see at the moment is that every time I talk to my roommate, she stops me and says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you were saying, I was too busy admiring your lashes” So not so fun for me, but clearly a good sign for Ayisha.

We were supposed to go to a gymnastics class that night, but my roommate’s boyfriend was in town, so he invited us to a big home cooked meal instead. Christine made a delicious salad with mangoes and avocadoes and tomatoes and cucumbers, then the boyfriend made us a mushroom and steak appetizer, followed by a very rich, delectable coconut curry shrimp pasta. When I did Tough Mudder a few years ago, I was told to carboload the night before, so it was justified, I’m sure 😉

I am going to do a post on the workshop by itself, because there were so many awesome parts to it (and I don’t have the pictures yet), but needless I was blown away by John Stead and his team. We worked on a choreography until 1, when Day 1 of the workshop concluded to make way for the boxing class, which a few of us participated in. Ryan’s class is a killer, but you can’t help but feel proud, strong and like a badass when it’s over.

We ate, then worked on the choreography. It was unfortunate that Christine and I had the same part in the fight, but also really cool, because it meant that we had to learn the other part as well in order to be able to practice with each other. In acting, your scene partner’s lines are more important to listen to than your own, so I think it was probably really beneficial for us to know the other side of the fight as well.

As a reward for a day spent training, she invited me over for a swim, some Jacuzzi and sauna action (not to forget a poolside rendition of the fight choreography) before we went out for supper and talked about the industry, the workshop, and how she has to move to Toronto now.

On Sunday we went to 4 points early to work on the choreography, and I’ll go more into details later, but it was an amazing day. Not easy, but so much fun, and definitely something that I would love to do. I have a long way to go, obviously, but I am ready and willing to put in the work to get there, which was not always the case.

At the very end, those of us who were left went out for supper (we were starving!) and stayed there until 11 o’clock talking about the workshop, the differences between acting and stunts, training options, and I’m pretty sure some acquaintances became friends.

On Monday I drove back to Montreal and am working at McGill for the next few days. Which is work, obviously, but it kind of also feels like I am being paid to hang out with my friends 🙂

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”

-Walt Disney