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Finding her Spotlight | Mélie Boisseau-Rondeau’s Acting for Film, Television & the Theatre Story

[mashshare]
As a child, Mélie Boisseau-Rondeau’s dream careers ran the gamut, but a high school theatre course awakened her true passion, acting. She did background work and took classes and finally auditioned and was accepted into the Acting for Film, Television and the Theatre Diploma at Toronto Film School. It was here she learned to embrace her uniqueness and she found the courage she needs to make it as an actor. Here, Mélie, who was the 2018 valedictorian of the Acting for Film, Television and the Theatre Diploma, shares more about what brought her to Toronto Film School and what she is taking away with her as a graduate.

  

  

What brought you to Toronto Film School?

It’s hard for me to remember exactly how I heard about the school but I’m almost certain it’s because I saw an ad on Facebook. For a long time, I had been interested in developing my acting skills in my second language. Initially, I applied for the Acting schools in Québec but I never made the cut. From a young age, I learned that most people in the entertainment industry were competitive and I decided I’d do everything in my power to differentiate myself from other performers.

Eventually, I auditioned for the school and the program directors saw some potential in me. A week before, I had also been accepted at VanArts, an Acting school in Vancouver, but I finally chose the Toronto Film School. I chose the school for various reasons. Here are some of them: it was closer to home and it wouldn’t be as expensive to go back for a visit, a lot of movies and tv shows are filmed in Toronto which means more work opportunities, there’s a bigger French-community, etc. Most importantly, Leanna Harvey, my admission advisor, was so fantastic and so helpful that I thought «If the faculty is as exceptional as her, this is where I want to be!

 

Why did you choose your program?

I chose the program because I want to be a professional actress. More precisely, I chose this program at this particular school because I loved the fact that all members of the faculty were still actively involved as actors. I figured I’d be able to ask them any questions I might have about the industry and I also thought this would be extremely inspiring. I wasn’t wrong! The Toronto Film School’s Acting faculty is big compared to other school’s and I love the fact that I was able to learn from the perspective of so many instructors. It allowed me to be more open-minded about my craft. I learned about so many different technics that I am now able to choose for myself what works best for me.

 

 

Before starting at Toronto Film School was there anything that was holding you back from pursuing your passion? If so how did you overcome that fear?

Absolutely! For many years, I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace since English is my second language. I thought my accent would be a liability and that I wouldn’t be able to shine and make a name for myself. Being a perfectionist, this prevented me from following my true calling. I kept thinking, “I’ll do it one day but not now. I am not good enough and, therefore, I am not ready.”

In 2010, I had been accepted at VanArts for the first time. Back then, I had never left the family home and, after only a few days in Vancouver, I had a panic attack and decided to come back. This experience changed me profoundly. The four years following that incident were hard for my self-esteem. I really thought I was ready to study acting and move away from my hometown but I wasn’t. After that, I doubted all of my decisions!

It took me a while to grow out of it but I can proudly say that I’m now more proactive, focused and confident than ever. Obviously, I still experience some doubts once in a while but I keep telling myself that doubts are part of what makes us human and I should do my best to accept them and learn from them instead of beating myself up for it.

When I came back to Québec in 2010, I chose to live on my own. I found an apartment not so far from my parents’ house and, for the first time, I experienced what it was to take care of my own life. Eventually, I applied to l’Université du Québec à Montréal and I had to move out once again. The first few weeks were hard but I was able to settle in after a while. I read a lot of self-help books and talked about what happened to a lot of people. Some people I admired would tell me that they had gone through similar situations. It made me realize I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t weak!

I also started to deconstruct my goals in life into smaller goals and challenges. I would congratulate myself each time I would accomplish something, however small. And I still do it!

 

What is the biggest change you have seen in yourself over the course of your time at Toronto Film School?

I’ve definitely become more confident in my own self. Studying at TFS gave me so many opportunities to challenge myself, as an actor and also as a person. I took on every challenge to the best of my abilities and I succeeded in delivering work that exceeded expectations.

 

 

What is one of the most important things you have learned/experienced at TFS?

I feel like I’ve learned and experienced so much over the course of the program. Writing, producing, directing and starring in my own short film was quite the experience! When I first started the program, I knew I would eventually have the opportunity to pitch a story of my own to some of my teachers. It seemed so far away I didn’t think too much about it. Eventually, I had to come up with an idea and, over the course of 9 months, I developed a story that became very personal and important to me. Watching the final product surrounded by my peers and some faculty members remains one of the best moments I experienced at the Toronto Film School. It wasn’t always an easy process to go through but I’ve learned and I’ve grown so much from it! I felt like I could tackle anything after that!

Midway through the program, Sue Miner, a teacher of mine, mentioned something that stuck with me. I think it is one of the most important things I’ve learned while training at the Toronto Film School. She is undoubtedly one of the smartest women I’ve ever met. On this one particular day, she told us that, when she was younger, there was this one actor in her class. Everybody, herself included, was a little jealous of him because, whatever they were working on, he always seemed to have the best lines. Even when he would be given only one line, it was the best in the play! Until one day, she realized that it wasn’t the case. No. By combining natural talent, work ethic and a positive attitude, this actor would always bring his performance to the next level. That’s when she understood that, as an actor, you always have an opportunity to shine! You just have to seize it! Even if the director gives you only one line, give it everything you’ve got! You have no idea where it might lead you!

 

What kept you motivated in your studies?

First and foremost, my parents and some members of my family. They always supported me and they would always be available for a chat over the phone. I’ve met a lot of students who were not supported by their parents because they didn’t believe that acting was a suitable career path for them. I’m excessively grateful when I think about the fact that my parents have been there for me all my life. They trust me and they encourage me every time I set my eyes on something new.

Secondly, I would always be motivated by my teachers and my peers. Some of my teachers said things that changed my views on acting and even on life. I had great conversations with many of them and they would always push me in the right direction. Every day, they kept challenging me and encouraging me. Some of my peers managed to produce amazing work while remaining respectful, kind and positive even though they were under a lot of pressure. I found that really inspiring!

 

What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long-term?

My main goal is to find an agent to push my career to the next level. I don’t want to join Actra just yet since I’d like to be able to participate in as many short films as possible. It’s always good if you want to update your demo reel regularly.

Long-term: I’d love to do as much theatre as possible. I’ve was cast in a play at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre recently. That’s a good start! I’d love to become a character in a video game as well.

 

 

What made Toronto Film School and your experience here special?

The people! Without any hesitation. I became a better actress and a better person because of them. If it wasn’t them, I would probably have left. I’m ready to make a lot of sacrifices to achieve my dreams but if I can’t create a «second» family for myself, I’ll go back home to be surrounded by people who love me and care for me. Luckily, I was able to find likeminded individuals here in Toronto and they made it easier for me to progress.

 

If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?

That is a tough one since I tend to avoid giving advice. What worked for me might not work for someone else.

The advice I would share with a new student is to give their 100% in everything they’re doing, however small or insignificant it seems. Sometimes, you might not see the value in what you’re doing but someone else is and that’s why they asked you to do it. As an actor, it’s important to keep an open mind. Some directors or teachers might come up with strange or unusual requests. If it’s respectful of your person, give it your best shot!

Personally, I applied myself in everything I did, even when it came to the smallest written assignments. Quickly, I’ve been noticed by my teachers and my peers as someone who works hard and who’s always ready to put in the work necessary to achieve her goals. While in school, I worked with some of them on extracurricular projects and, here I am, the 2018 Valedictorian of the Acting program.