Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

What do you want to be when you grow up? For some of us this question has been easier to answer than for others. I am sure I changed my mind time and time again, and as I grew older it became more and more of a power struggle between what I really wanted to do and what I thought I should be doing. One thing I have learned is that the things that matter the most are matters of the heart, not of the head. In general, I think artists are one group of people that understand this very well. Gary and I had the chance to chat with Alison Wandzura who is a professional film and tv actor in Vancouver, B.C. Like many of us, when it came to choosing a career her heart was telling her to be an actor, but her head told her to go get a business degree. Eventually Alison quashed the naysayer within her, let the passion in her heart take over, and now she does what she loves.

Comedy theatre production

Comedy theatre production

When Alison was growing up her and her two brothers spent many of their days acting in homegrown productions and dreaming of the day when their staged funny-naked-bathroom-scene video would be chosen for America’s Funniest Home Videos. And although that was “kid stuff”, Alison always loved dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else. She still does. One of the reasons she pursued an acting career is because she could never decide what she wanted to be. She notes that if you act you get to pretend to be someone other than yourself on any given day.

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Alison was born and raised in Calgary and so was her acting career. She started out as a theatre actor and then five years ago she decided to trust her heart and make a big move to Vancouver where she wanted to try her hand at film and tv acting. Since then she has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects; everything from commercials, made for tv movies and series, big screen feature films and even playing the voice of animated characters. Many of these projects have been integral in helping her career unfold and to discover what acting really means to her. It is quite different from what it once was. She says it’s not about becoming rich and famous, it’s about discovering who she really is and how she can make a difference in the world by telling stories that matter.

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

There is something so real about an actor. An actor’s job is to convince us that they are the persona they are pretending to be. It is kind of ironic really. Actors are great pretenders and yet they spend their life perfecting the art of being real from someone else’s perspective. Because of this they may have a better handle on what it means to just be themselves more than most people do. Alison is discovering this about herself. Her acting career has opened the door and let the real Alison out. She sees the world and the people in it differently now. Her senses are wide open to what goes on around her. Not only does this make her a better actor it has also given her a love for humanity that she never knew she had.

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When Alison is not auditioning or working on her acting skills she enjoys being behind the camera for a change. She loves to travel and explore areas of the world that are rich in culture unfamiliar to her. She found herself captivated by the people and discovered her passion and creativity for photography came from capturing images of men, women and children just living their lives. In her words, “there is something so engaging and beautiful about someone just being themselves”. Alison hopes to create a greater respect and understanding of what is truly beautiful about a person by honouring the essence of humanity and what it means to be real, either through the images she captures from behind the camera or through the acting she presents in front of one.

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Please join us as Alison shares with us what it takes to be an actor. We love comments and would appreciate it if you could help us spread the word about Alison through social media and email. Thanks!

Norma Jackson Lives a Creative Life

Norma Jackson Lives a Creative Life

When we planned a trip to Vancouver Island in April our intention was to meet with some of the artists we didn’t catch up with the first time around. One of those artists was Norma Jackson. Norma lives in Duncan, B.C. with her husband Rodney and their cute little pooch. She is an award winning, eclectic, acrylic painter who often incorporates sculpture into her pieces. When she is not working on her own projects she spends time sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to discover their creative potential in various workshops she holds in her studio or takes on the road.

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It was wonderful talking with Norma as she reminded me that when you have an intention for your life you must pursue it no matter how scary it may seem at first. Norma started out like many of us, myself included, speeding down the life long job highway only to discover; “this is not for me!” Not to say that a job doesn’t serve a financial purpose and is even sometimes fulfilling, but this route, from beginning to end, doesn’t suit everyone. I can’t say exactly how Norma came to this crossroads in her life, but perhaps it happened because she was open to the possibilities of what might, and did, cross her path. One day she found herself playing the role of a business executive with little opportunity for creative potential, and the next she was living a creative life painting and sculpting for a marionette company. With the help of a wonderful lady who became her mentor, Norma discovered many things that lay dormant within her and so put herself through many firsts such as painting, sculpting, set design, public speaking, puppeteering, writing, directing and performing to name just a few.

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Eventually Norma found herself in the field of healing, and she discovered the healing properties of creativity, whether from creating for oneself or sharing one’s creativity with others. Norma discovered that it doesn’t matter if we are at the beginning of our life or coming to its end, the power of creativity can heal the smallest or biggest wounds. Her experience and her desire to help others led her and her band of marionette’s to visit people in hospice care, and later she developed a highly effective marionette program for youth contemplating suicide. In her video interview Norma shared with us some heart wrenching stories that left a lump in my throat.

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Often we think of art and creativity in such a limited way; something to be admired or something that only people with excess disposable income can enjoy, either to pay for art school, lessons or just to purchase someone’s creative accomplishments. Norma is one artist, of many I’m sure, who have taken the merits of art to another dimension in society and as Norma says, “art is the life’s blood of our society.” Although her hospice work and the youth suicide program have been dismantled because of government funding cuts, her creative endeavours have changed the path of those who were dying by giving them comfort and peace, and to those who wanted to die by giving them a reason to live.

Today, Norma works on her own art and with great insight and a deep connection to her surroundings wherever she finds herself and with whomever she meets. She is interested in people, rituals, nature, abstract and just about anything that her open mind welcomes in. I was fascinated to hear her story and what led her to where she is today. These are the stories that keep me going in my life when the demon of doubt sometimes shows up unexpectedly. Perhaps they may do the same for you.

Please join us as Norma shares her journey by way of living a creative life. We love to hear from you so please leave a comment and share on social media. Thanks.