Growing up in a small town in northern Ontario town, Trenton Hawkins says he felt he had many callings.
From martial arts, to psychology, to video games, the 20-year-old Orillia native didn’t discover his true passion for acting until accidentally stumbling upon it in drama class during his first year of high school.
“My teacher at the time told me I had a knack for it, and from there it was full-steam ahead,” said Hawkins, who recently graduated from Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre diploma program and was named valedictorian of his graduating class.
It was during his time at Toronto Film School that Hawkins said he also discovered several new passions.
“Throughout my life, there have been many things that I’ve had a calling for, but currently the things I focus on are content creation – whether that be short films, writing scripts, skits and live streaming,” he said.
“From the time I entered the Toronto Film School, I also discovered a love for producing. Since being at TFS and graduating, I’ve produced three short films, been the stage manager for TFS, and am now the stage manager for Christopher Sawchyn and Christel Bartelse’s comedy shows.”
Hawkins recently sat down to reflect on his time at Toronto Film School, his passion for acting, and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say:
What brought you to Toronto Film School? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us?
Originally acting wasn’t my calling, it was psychology. My hometown doesn’t have child psychiatrists, and I enjoy working with children. But in my first year of high school, I accidentally took Drama. From there, my teacher at the time told me I had a knack for it. From there, it was full-steam ahead.
I viewed schools around the world and originally wanted to go to Julliard, but unfortunately didn’t want to leave the country. That was when I found Toronto Film School in an online ad. It was like my computer was listening to me when TFS was presented to me.
I gave them a call, booked an audition, and never looked back.
What made you decide to pursue your passion for Acting for Film, Television & the Theatre?
As stated above, the person who told me to study acting was my first-year Drama teacher in high school. Unfortunately, she passed away in my second year of high school, but she was a huge inspiration to me and I kept going at it.
When I break down acting, at its core it is just having the ability to express your emotions. That intrigued me, as I wanted to know what emotions would come out in different situations. Thus, giving myself confidence, inspiration and a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at TFS (ie things you’ve learned/relationships you’ve forged/experiences you’ve had)?
I’m taking away so many things that I can’t even count them on two hands. How to build connections and relationships. How important it is to just relax. How important a simple warm-up can be to your performance. How important it was for me to really put myself out there during my fifth-term play. How important learning voice-over was to me.
But if I had to pick one time, it’d be the importance of consumption. What I mean is, getting your hands on absolutely anything and everything you can. Using all the tools in your toolbox to make not only yourself better, but your peers and coworkers around you.
What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long term?
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it’s tough for us actors to be able to do much. But immediately, I began writing, writing more, then writing some more. Creating content is what I and every actor should do to not only give ourselves something to do but to stay sane by itching that creativity inside all of us.
As well, I am producing comedy shows for Christopher Sawchyn and Christel Bartelse once every season.
For the long term, I am a live-streamer five days a week currently. I create content, as I’ve been playing video games my whole life, and what better thing than someone who’s always in front of the camera to be in front of a digital camera.
For my acting career, as much as I love being in front of the camera and creating live-action, I’ve wanted to do voiceover since I began watching cartoons – particularly anime dubbing. I’ve been a huge advocate of it since I was in my teens and love the content and culture of Japan. I’m hoping to use my skills and talents to bust into that area of the arts.
As well, in the future, I’m hoping to get my teaching degree. Like I said earlier, I enjoy working with young people and when I was in high school I was a tutor and the feeling of teaching someone with your methods and it working is like none other. I’m hoping to be able to teach what I learned from acting, producing, directing and writing at Toronto Film School, as well as English.
If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
If a student who was trying to come to Toronto Film School came up to me and asked for advice, I’d say there are so many things you’re going to learn at Toronto Film School in such a short period of time. Such as how important it is to have connections and relationships (you’re going to hear this a lot throughout your studies). How important it is to memorize. How important it is to understand all aspects of the industry. How important it is to get your hands on as much content as possible. How important it is to take this seriously, believing that this is a career and not something you do on the side.
But, in my opinion, the most important thing is to listen to. That sounds too simple, but if you really break it down, listen to your peers, listen to your coaches and teachers, listen to your acting partner – genuinely listen and hear what they’re saying – you’ll make it so much further and actually gather as much information as possible.