Toronto is a magnet for aspiring young artists hoping to make it in the big smoke. Most days it feels like the 6ix is positively bursting at the seams with young artists, designers, filmmakers, actors and comedians busting their humps to make their dreams come true. She Does The City chatted with some of the most exciting and talented up-and-coming artists living and working in Toronto to find out what inspires them, how they deal with setbacks and what stops them from jacking it all in and getting a normal job.
For this installment, we caught up with Bea Santos.
SDTC: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
BS: I’m Bea and I’m an actress living and working in Toronto.
It can be tough to forge a career as an actor. What has stopped you from quitting and doing something more stable?
Firstly, I’ve always gone back to the fact that if I quit, I know I’d just spend my life dreaming about acting and I’d be more miserable than if I was trying without success. So that’s helped. Secondly, I’ve just felt it hasn’t been time to quit yet! I’ve seen people quit their creative pursuit after just a few years of trying, and that’s such a tragedy; it feels like they haven’t even given it a proper go. Thirdly, I would be terrible at an office job. I’d be trying to put on plays all the time and they’d fire me for not getting all those spread sheets in. That’s what happens in an office, right?
Did you always know you wanted to be an actor? What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
Always, always wanted to be an actor. I saw Mary Poppins when I was four and I asked my mom, “How can I be like Mary Poppins when I grow up?” and she said, “Well, you could be an actress.” And that was that. What I was really asking was, “How do I get magic powers?” but I feel being an actress and being a witch are very similar. Maybe I’ve settled.
What do you love about acting?
I love working with other weirdos who were also unpractical enough to make this their life. I meet so many cool people. I love imagining different worlds and scenarios. I love playing dress-up. I love taking a character I don’t understand and learning to love them. I love time travelling. I love rolling out of bed and not having to do my own makeup. I love telling stories. I love collaborating with directors. I love seeing a movie that I worked on in theatres and how genuinely in awe I am every time that I was part of such magic.
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
You have to be an optimist to be an actor. So I’d like to save this one for something yet to come. But I will say that I feel very brave.
How do you deal with career setbacks?
You know those montages in football movies from the nineties in which the boys are running through gauntlets and the coaches are hitting them with those pads? That’s what this career feels like. You’re constantly being beat up and you just have to keep going. I’m not complaining; it’s fun! The best way to deal with setbacks is to just run through the gauntlet again.
What piece of career advice has stuck with you?
“Nobody knows what they’re doing.” This is good life advice for your twenties too. That’s not to say don’t respect others’ experience or expertise. It’s just healthy to remember that those people who intimidate you were once just like you. Also, resist the urge to say “sorry” when “thank you” is much more appropriate.
What advice do you have for an aspiring actor?
I could give mystical advice, but I’d rather give practical tips. This is exactly what I did:
- Get good headshots
- Submit yourself to student film auditions every single morning
- Make a demo reel from those films and go to a studio to tape some audition scenes
- Start submitting yourself to agencies with that reel
What do you hope to achieve in your career in 2017?
I have something really exciting happening right now and I hope I can talk about it soon. I would just like to keep building on my momentum and do my very best work to date.