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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

Introducing BITTEN’s Newest Cast Member: Tommie-Amber Pirie

With dozens of film, theater and television roles under her belt, as well as a Canadian Screen Award nomination, Canadian actress Tommie-Amber Pirie is no stranger to both the stage and the screen. With roles on shows such as CTV’s The Listener, Showcase’s Lost Girl, and Syfy’s Warehouse 13, as well as film credits for The Trotsky with Jay Baruchel and What If with Daniel Radcliffe, she’s certainly a familiar face for many entertainment fans. And now Pirie has joined the cast of Syfy’s original drama series Bitten as Paige Winterbourne, an outspoken witch with a spitfire attitude.

In an exclusive interview with The Hudsucker, Pirie fills us in on her past as a figure skater, her love of cats, and her jump into the supernatural with Bitten.

Credit TBD

Courtesy of Tommie-Amber Pirie

The Hudsucker: You spent many years as a figure skater when you were growing up. How does one go from being a figure skater to being an actor?

Tommie-Amber Pirie: Oh, gosh, well… I feel like it kind of happened seamlessly. I started skating at the age of three, and started competing at the age of four. I skated until I was about seventeen or eighteen, so that means I spent about fourteen years on the ice. Eventually I reached a point in my teenage life where I was discovering what I wanted to do with my life. And while I was so passionate about skating, it had been my life for so long. It was how I had identified. But all along the way, I grew up watching films with my mother; she wanted to be an actor, and we were always watching old movies, singing to Liza Minnelli, and doing all these big outlandish things. So I think that, innately, it was in my character. I’d always loved acting, but I’d never really felt like I’d ever had the opportunity to try it because I was always at the rink. And a big part of skating was performing. So when I reached the age of seventeen or eighteen, I started taking some acting classes in Ottawa, and I knew that was the route I wanted to take. It felt like a new chapter, on my terms.

The Hudsucker: You were born in Ottawa, but moved to Toronto when you were nineteen. What was that like?

Pirie: I moved to Toronto on my own. I didn’t really know anybody in the city, but I wanted to pursue acting. I knew that moving to Toronto would be necessary because there wasn’t a hell of a lot of opportunity for what I do in Ottawa, so I moved here all by my lonesome. It’s been eight years I’ve been here, and it’s great. It feels like my home now. It took a couple of years because it was such a contrast to where I grew up, but now I have my circle of friends and my work. The other day I just took a moment to reflect and think, “Wow, I’m really doing it.” Coming from being a young naïve girl at nineteen who wanted to be an actress, and really putting in what it took and to be a fraction of where I want to be, it feels… oh, it feels so great. I’m so honored that I can refer to myself as a working actor.

The Hudsucker: It’s fantastic that you knew what you wanted, and were willing to work hard to pursue it until you got it.

Pirie: I think that the number one thing, as a human being, is to follow your gut and follow your intuition. Try to have a positive outlook because other people will influence you, by what they do or how they think or how they look. It’s so important to remain true and honest to what you want to do. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the mainstream idea of what people think it means to be an actor.

The Hudsucker: Did you do any schooling in Toronto for acting?

Pirie: I didn’t. I studied privately, so I had a teacher, but I didn’t wind up going to school. I think that a lot of young actors, not knowing what steps to take, apply to theatre schools. I did the same thing—I got accepted into a couple of schools and then, at the last minute, I deferred acceptance intuitively. I didn’t want to be stuck in a four-year program to learn how to be an actor. Don’t get me wrong: I think theatre school is beneficial for so many reasons, but it just wasn’t my jam. I wanted to be in the acting community. I wanted to be auditioning and to have an agent, and the schooling part would’ve limited that. That’s the most gratifying thing about being an actor: answers and lessons are everywhere. When you’re walking down the street or having a chat with a friend, observing behaviors and things like that… I felt like my answers were out in life. That’s the route I took, and I’m happy that I did.

Credit TBD

Courtesy of Tommie-Amber Pirie

The Hudsucker: Do you have any favorite stories or moments from working on shows like Lost Girl or The Listener, or on movies like What If?

Pirie: I have the worst memory, oh my god. I can’t remember what I did yesterday or what I ate for lunch. Let’s see… in The Listener, I got to play twins, which was really neat. It was fun to be able to play two different characters in the same episode. In Lost Girl, I gave birth to an alien baby. It was like, “Really? This is my job?!” It was the weirdest, craziest thing! And with What If, that was my first time working in more of a blockbuster realm. I’d done a lot of independent films, and there was just a different kind of vibe when you go to set. Obviously, I knew Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, but he so cool. He was humble and genuine and down to earth, and so friendly. Everyone was so laid back. It’s just so refreshing to work with actors, especially successful actors, who remain humble. I really admire and appreciate that. It’s always inspiring to work with people who love what they do.

The Hudsucker: What was the process like for landing the role on Bitten?

Pirie: Oh man, it was so exciting. My agent sent me out for it—I initially self-taped, which happens often now because there are so many actors auditioning. After they saw my tape, I then went in and did a chemistry read with one of the actors. One thing lead to another, and here we are! I get to be a part of Season 2. I’m in basically every episode, and as an actor, it’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to know that you have work lined up. It’s so nice to have that stability and to know that you’re working for four months straight on something you’re so passionate about. I’m so blessed.

The Hudsucker: What drew you to the role of Paige?

Pirie: When I got the breakdown, I saw that she’s a witch. I was thrilled, because witches are badass! So that was exciting. And Paige is a beautiful mix of vulnerability and softness combined with this really hard edge. She’s powerful, you know? I often see roles for actresses where they’ve either written a very stereotypical woman, or she’s a one-note character. And Paige is so much more than that. You know, it’s just fun to be in the sci-fi/fantasy realm—I’ve never really done anything like that before. So every script I receive is really cool and all over the place. You never really know what to expect because there are all sorts of supernatural things happening. It’s fun! I can’t say too much more than that. But she has some really cool powers and abilities.

The Hudsucker: With Bitten being a supernatural series, you must be doing some interesting special effects work. Does that take some getting used to?

Pirie: Yeah! Yeah, oh man, I wish I could talk more about this stuff. There are some really cool, special things happening, and once the season airs next year, everyone will be able to watch it. Yeah! The special effects are exciting to film—and they’re weird, too. I know the way I’m talking is kind of confusing, but you’ll see. It’s awesome.

Credit TBD

Courtesy of Tommie-Amber Pirie

The Hudsucker: You’re very outspoken about your love for animals and your passion for the Humane Society. Do you have any pets?

Pirie: I do! I have two cats. I would love to have a dog, but currently I don’t think that’s the best option—owning a dog is like having a child, and I’m not quite ready to have a child! But I have two cats, both of which I adopted from the Toronto Humane Society. I’m an avid supporter and believer of rescue. My cats are my family! I have Edie, a little black cat who’s ten months, and my older cat, Buster, is four years old. I love them so much. I’ll stop myself now because it might start to sound weird, but I’m madly in love with my cats!

The Hudsucker: Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

Pirie: I have a couple films coming out soon. I did a movie called Don’t Get Killed in Alaska, which is story about a young girl trying to find her way in the world. A young twenty-something who was out tree planting in New Brunswick and comes back home to make amends with her family. It’s opening at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto the weekend of November 7th and 8th. And I did a movie with Zoe Kravitz called Pretend We’re Kissing—a little romantic comedy. But they’re calling it a “non rom-com” because it doesn’t necessarily end conventionally. I’m really excited for those to be released. And we’re going to camera on another film I’m in, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, at the end of October. There are so many great actors attached to that one. It should be fun!

The Hudsucker: For all the Bitten fans out there: if you could be a supernatural creature, what would you be?

Pirie: Oh, man….oh man, I don’t know! I’d be a mesh of everything. I’d be a flying, shiny, rainbow-colored, invisible creature. Is that a supernatural thing?

The Hudsucker: It definitely can be.

Pirie: Yeah. Let’s do that! And I would control the weather.

The Hudsucker: You’d be unique, and none of the supernatural creature hunters would have any idea how to deal with you.

Pirie: Nobody would be able to make any sense of it. I’d love it.

* * *

Tommie-Amber Pirie’s Don’t Get Killed In Alaska is screening at Toronto’s Carlton Cinemas on November 7th, 2014. Season 2 of Bitten airs in early 2015 on Syfy and SPACE.

To find out more about Tommie-Amber and keep up to date on her upcoming projects, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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