Katherine Barrell: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is Katherine Barrell, an actor, producer and most recently a director. You might recognize her from hit shows like Murdoch Mysteries, Saving Hope, and Syfy series, Wynonna Earp. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her and what advice she would share with other young professionals…


1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m an actor, best known for playing Nicole Haught on Syfy’s Wynonna Earp. Also a film director and principle with my film production company, Kit Media.

2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
Watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on VHS as a five-year-old. At the end, there was a behind-the-scenes video of Angela Lansbury in the recording booth voicing Mrs. Potts. I was mesmerized that there were actual people behind those characters. That day, I told my mom I wanted to be the voice of the Disney characters.

3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Starting my production company with my late producing partner Kent Nolan. After making a few low/no budget shorts, we were awarded a grant from Bell Media to make our short film “Issues” which went on to be named one of the top Bell short films of the year by TV critic, Richard Crouse.

4. Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years, 20 years?
Five years: working 75% as an actor, 25% as a director.

Ten years: working half my year as an actor and the other half directing. Maybe have some kiddies. I have a dream of standing at the monitor directing while pregnant.

Twenty years: Working as a showrunner on a concept I created.

5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I have this phrase: “Say it out loud.” One of my fans from the UK even got it tattooed on her wrist! I deeply believe in the power of speaking your desires into the universe. Tell as many people as you can about your goals and inevitably, most of them will offer up help to get you there.

6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I am a brand ambassador with GIRL TALK Empowerment and their #PinkBox initiative which deliver positive message lifestyle products to women aged 12 and up.

I am also an active member of the Canadian Actor’s Union, ACTRA. Recently, the Canadian Producers Association voted to reduce the number of Canadian artists (actors, writers, directors) required for a production to be deemed “Canadian Content” and thus eligible for the attractive tax credits Canada offers. I feel it is a big part of my responsibility as a notable person in the Canadian media industry to speak out against this new mandate. We need more Canadians on our screen, not less, if our industry is to continue thriving.

7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Out of school, I felt so helpless waiting for the phone to ring. Freelance is an entirely different game when it comes to getting hired but as an actor so much is out of your control. Eventually, I got fed up and decided I wasn’t going to wait for someone else to give me permission to do what I loved. So I started my production company, Kit Media, to create work for myself and keep me creative. Any money I received went right into my films and I still had to hold down several part-time jobs, but the experience propelled me to the next level and I learned so much faster than if I had waited for the opportunity to be given to me – if it ever would have.

8. What does the word notable mean to you?
The ability to affect change. Have a social reach to touch the lives of large groups. The responsibility to put positivity into the world when many others are listening.


1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Cluny Bistro in the Distillery District in Toronto. I love going to this stunning French bistro for special occasions – it feels like a little vacation to France. If you’re pressed for time, just pop into the attached cafe for a latte, pastry and an ‘ahhhhh’ moment.

2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Pinterest; I am a complete junkie. All the films I make start with Pinterest boards that I then share with my creative team to brainstorm everything from colour grade to costume design. I am also getting married next year and my fiancé and I just purchased our first home so needless to say Pinterest is exploding for me on all fronts right now!

3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
@ShondaRhimes, creator and show runner of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. She changed the way women, especially visible minorities, are portrayed in the media and I believe helped paved the way for some of my other favorite female showrunners: @JillSoloway @LenaDunham, @JenniKonner, @MindyKaling; and most importantly Emily Andras @emtothea and Catherine Reitman @reitcatou both whom I am immensely lucky to work for!

4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I went to India last year for the festival premiere of a film I was in with Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez. It was absolutely magical and I wish I were able to take a whole month exploring. I have wanted to travel to New Orleans for years and am also hoping to do a heritage tour of the cities of my ancestors in Italy, France, and Slovenia in the near future.

5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Just a general feeling that I’m growing up too fast – and I’m a legit adult so I don’t know what happened.

6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Turning my phone to Do Not Disturb mode.

7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I spent less money fixing my phone from all the times I stupidly drop it while rushing around. I wish I spent more on Canadian made visual art. I am trying to grow my collection of fantastic Canadian artists now that I finally have somewhere to put everything!

8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Confidence in my work and myself as an artist. The absence of fear of failure, trusting that no matter what creative risk I take, “failure” will not derail me.