We had the chance to chat with with actress Suzanne Cyr who stars in the new feature film Night Raiders directed by Danis Goulet which was recently screened at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
Here’s what Suzanne Cyr had to say about her acting experiences and the film.
When did you decide that storytelling and acting was something you wanted to do?
SC: My first role was in a grade three production…I don’t remember the name of the play or what it was about, only that I was onstage sitting in a circle with other kids and my one line was, “I’ll get the peace pipe father.” and then I had to go off stage, get the pipe and bring it back and hand it to the actor playing my father. All went well until I went offstage to get the pipe and, you guessed it, no pipe. I don’t know how long I was offstage panicking, or if I returned to the stage with or without the pipe, clearly I’ve blocked it all out!
However, this first experience didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I know I was always asking my mother to bring me to church play auditions, putting on plays in my backyard with my brothers and friends and auditioning at school. I remember walking to school and knowing that there was a movie camera following me recording everything for the movie that was being made about my life…I just assumed everyone did this. My father had a super 8 camera and would film everything, we also had a projector so we’d invite kids in on rainy days to watch our home made movies, the Three Stooges and Spanky and Our Gang movies. Cut to many years later after being told during my modelling career by casting agents that I should take acting classes, I remember walking into a beginner acting class taught by Louise Nolan and thinking, “Ok, I’m home, this is where I belong.”
What advice would you give to people pursuing acting?
SC: Study! If you can’t attend a full time school, there are tons of classes that you can take in your off time with fantastic teachers. Connect with other actors and like-minded people. Start where you are, investigate everything about the craft of acting, learn about yourself and people, be curious, develop your life outside of acting, make yourself as healthy in all ways as possible.
What was your first acting role?
SC: My first professional role was on a made for TV movie, Deadly Business. It starred Alan Arkin and Armande Assante and my scene was with them. I had 2 or 3 lines and during the shoot Alan Arkin kept running around saying to everyone on set, “Look at her, look at her, she looks like a young Joan Collins!” I know I was super shy and nervous, they were so kind to me, it was a great first experience.
What do you enjoy the most about acting?
SC: For me, I love all of the aspects of acting, even auditioning. I remember reading an Al Pacino quote about auditions…”For 5 minutes that role is yours.” That’s how I approach the audition aspect, it wasn’t always like that for me, in the beginning I was so nervous I could feel my lips shaking. I love the challenges that acting has made me face in myself and of course being on set, connecting with other actors and the director, being surrounded by crew who are there to support you and help you do your job, all of it is wonderful.
What can you tell us about Night Raiders?
SC: Night Raiders is a fictionalized account of the residential school system that existed until very recently in Canada. Danis Goulet, the indigenous writer and director, set it in the future and all of the elements of the film are pulled from the real-life history of Canada and the colonialism that Canada is based on. If you google Danis Goulet many interviews will come up where you can hear her talking in depth about the film and her reasons for everything she did and how long and hard she worked to bring it to fruition. I encourage everyone to seek out this information.
What can people expect from your character in Night Raiders?
SC: One of the interviewers on the red carpet said to me, “I’m not a big fan of your character.” That sums it up, you can expect to not be a big fan of my character and that means I’ve done my job and it’s the correct way to feel.
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