Today’s Notable Young Professional is Toronto-based actor and filmmaker Denis Theriault, who we caught up with to chat about the inspiration behind his career and what advice he would share with others looking to break into the industry…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m first and foremost an actor. But I’m also a filmmaker. Screenwriting has become a real passion of mine.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
It sounds cliché at this point, but the fact that we essentially get to play pretend is pretty cool. I started as a kid and pretty much never stopped once I got a taste of it.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Definitely my whole experience with “All the Wrong Reasons,” a film I did with Cory Monteith in 2013. Not only did I have the privilege of working with him before his untimely passing, the film also had its world premiere at TIFF, which was a complete whirlwind within itself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
I want to be an established filmmaker with a few feature films under my belt within five years while still continuing to act once in a while. Perhaps even write a project for myself to star in. As for the 10 and 20-year mark, I’d love to still be going strong, writing/directing film and TV projects. The goal is to work in the film industry and that be my sole source of income.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
You have to really want it. It’s a combination of hard work, sacrifice and persistence. While others are playing, you’re working. When someone invites you for a night out on the town, you stay in and work instead. Make a goal and do everything in your power to make it happen.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My own insecurities. Figuring out that I was talented and had something to offer took years. There was a period of time where I auditioned for almost five years and didn’t book a single acting gig. And then a few years ago, I suddenly had a breakthrough and my whole mindset changed. That’s when I started booking jobs.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Someone who has focused on the work and rightfully earned recognition for it.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I love Canteen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and I think you know why. That place is a mecca for film lovers. I just love the energy in that building. It’s palpable.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
The most visited website is definitely IMDB. My friends call me the human IMDB because my head is filled to the brim with an insane amount of film knowledge. I love the trivia section.
Most played song is “Desire” by Years & Years. I was actually lucky enough to see them live at the Danforth Music Hall last summer and they were incredible.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Joseph Kahn. He’s hilarious. He’s primarily a music video director, but his sharp and biting wisdom on the industry is so spot on.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I loved visiting England. My fiancé is from Southampton. Cardiff is also beautiful. I would LOVE to see Greece at some point.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Film sets. When I see production vehicles across the city, I just want to know everything about the project that’s being shot. I want to be on that set and observe everything.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Chips. Salt and Vinegar and Dill Pickle, to be precise. I crave them ALL DAY LONG.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Blu-rays. My collection is pretty substantial, but I consider them my textbooks so they’re kind of a business expense, right? RIGHT? I live very much in the now, so planning for my future isn’t always on my mind, specifically when it comes to finances. I wish I spent more on RRSPs. I really need to look into that soon.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success means waking up every day knowing you’re doing something that you like doing. Or that you’re at least pursuing it. I can honestly say that if I die tomorrow, I’ll be happy with everything I’ve accomplished so far.