Star power: Celebs abound on the Peninsula
By Terry Farrell
The Lower Mainland arts and entertainment talent pool gets deeper at every turn.
It’s no wonder. With Vancouver
being widely regarded as “Canada’s Hollywood,”
it’s the place to be for fledgling and renown celebrities alike.From homegrown talent, to adopted sons
and daughters, there is never a shortage of
star power in Vancouver and area.
In this issue of Indulge, we caught up with a few of the community’s personalities.
Greyston Holt takes a bite out of TV
There's a rising star in our midst, and he can be seen on Space channel.
Twenty-eight-year-old Greyston Holt has landed his own television series.
The Calgary-born, Salt Spring Island-raised actor has the lead role in Bitten, a show based on the first book of Canadian author Kelly Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series.
Holt plays Clayton Danvers – a werewolf.
It's somewhat of a full circle scenario for Holt, whose first role in front of the cameras was in the 2004 teen horror flick Sisterhood, a movie about vampires.
"Yeah, a low-budget, cheesy horror flick, but it got me started," said Greyston of Sisterhood, his first "big break" in the industry.
To say acting has been a lifelong dream of Greyston's would be a stretch. It wasn't even on his radar until he was on the verge of adulthood.
“I guess I first got into acting in my senior year of high school. I needed another credit in arts so I took a (drama) course. It kind of grew from there. I had done a little bit of modeling growing up, but nothing other than that.”
After finishing high school, he moved to the Lower Mainland to pursue his career.
His mom, Nancy, followed shortly thereafter, moving to White Rock where she owns and operates the boutique store, She's Some Kind of Wonderful.
“I never pressured him into anything – I’ve always been supportive of whatever he has done,”’ said Nancy. “The acting, he sort of just fell into it. He entered a contest and won top adult talent for acting and so from there, we just pursued that avenue. He did a little from Salt Spring, for about a year, then I said ‘OK you need to go to the Mainland to pursue this.’ I was behind him all the way.”
Greyston, who already has three dozen movie and television roles on his resume, credits his agent, Kathy Carpenter (KC Talent), with landing him what he calls the biggest role of his career to date.
“She’s great,” he said of Carpenter. “She put together a package and sent it off to Toronto and we got the call. From the first contact to getting the role, the whole process took about a month and a half.
"Definitely, having the lead in a series, this is the highlight of my career so far. Hopefully it leads to bigger things yet."
Greyston said that although he was unfamiliar with the Armstrong series prior to auditioning for the role, he became intimately acquainted with story as soon as he heard he was to be involved with the show.
“It's not really my kind of read, but once I was cast I read the book and it was a real page turner. I got through it in no time," he said.
The 13-episode Season 1 covers the entire plot of Bitten.
The television writers are already working on a second season of Bitten, which Greyston says will follow Book 2 of the Women of the Otherworld series (Stolen), at least to a certain degree.
Greyston said he would return as Clayton Danvers, if asked.
“Oh yeah. It's been a great experience."
Bitten can be seen Saturdays at 6 p.m. on Space.
Dear Rouge climbing the charts
If you haven't heard of Dear Rouge by now, turn on your radio.
The Surrey/Vancouver-based duo – comprising the husband-and-wife-team of Drew and Danielle McTaggart – is one of the hottest up-and-coming acts on the Canadian music scene and all indications are that the best is yet to come.
Dear Rouge is taking the Canadian airwaves by storm, with its latest single.
“We just found out (in February) that we are No. 6 on the Canadian rock-alternative charts,” said Drew. “It just keeps growing. It has already far exceeded our expectations.”
Dear Rouge’s debut album is slated for release later this year.
The album's first single, I Heard, I Had, is the one currently making all the noise on the music scene. The plan is to release a follow-up single, Best Look Lately, in the coming months, then release the album.
“It will be our first full-length album,” said Drew. “We have done a couple of EPs, which are three- or four-song demos, per se. We are hoping to release the album sometime this summer. We don't have a lock-down date yet.”
The McTaggarts can only hope that Best Look Lately draws the same kind of attention as I Heard I Hadhas done.
“It’s been really amazing to see Canadian radio jump on it,” Drew said of I Heard I Had.
“Right across the country, all the way to Halifax, there are stations in every city playing us. So it has really been helping the band out, especially on the East Coast. And now it’s starting to make its way into the States, too.”
The upcoming album is not only a progression in length, but also in the product itself.
“People can expect to hear something that is more mature and deeper than our (previous) stuff, but it’s still very much who we are,” Drew said. “We have a song on it called Black to Gold (tentative title track) and that's a song that we are really proud of and we can’t wait to show people.
“Ultimately, with a full album, you have a longer amount of time with the listener, so you can try different things. Whereas the four-song EPs we put out are kind of quick, this has (more to it). I like to compare it to a longer conversation. We get to do deeper songs, slower songs. l try some different stuff, because we will have 10 or 11 songs on the album.”
The McTaggarts’ musical influences are varied.
From the mainstream, such as Beck, to the upbeat sounds of Phoenix, to Australian folk band The Middle East; an eclectic array of sounds that lends itself to a wider spectrum of creativity when it's time for Drew and Danielle to put their own notes on paper.
There are also some Canadian influences.
“Metric, I have always really liked, and I really enjoy Sam Roberts’ new album, so we are definitely influenced by a lot of different sounds,” said Danielle. “But I would say that the closest sound for us in our own personal music is The Killers and The Yayas… and we get compared to (American duo) Phantogram quite a bit.”
Drew and Danielle have known each other for many years through mutual friends, but music and their similar creative ambitions are what brought the two of them together.
“I was in an indie-rock band, and Danielle was in a singer/songwriter-type with a solo project,” reflected Drew. “My band wasn't doing much and Danielle, with her singer/songwriter stuff, I could see she is a really energetic person. So I was like ‘we have to make a higher-energy sound – a more pop-rock, in-your-face-type music.’ So I convinced her to come out to Vancouver to try a song.”
The project – and the couple’s personal relationship – blossomed from there.
The band is currently on a one-month, 10-city tour, playing 300- to 500-seat rooms, reaching audiences from Vancouver to Montreal.
A gig at a Vancouver Canucks game – playing pre-game and intermission for the fans – ranks among the band's highlights to date.
“I called my mom and told her that I could totally get used to this – playing a rock show in front of 18,000 fans,” said Danielle.
They are on the right track.
Harvie becomes two-faced for TV
Ellie Harvie is relishing her latest role, as antagonist Candace Wheeler in the new teen comedy Some Assembly Required.
It’s a chance for her to show off her greatest asset: comedy.
After playing the “straight man” role, as Morticia, in The New Addams Family, this new role is pure escapism for the South Surrey actress.
“I get to do all the stuff that I watched Gomez and Uncle Fester do,” she said in a recent interview withIndulge.
“When I was Morticia I just stood there and watched those guys … doing the sword fighting and flying in on lines and it was, like, ‘I want to do that’. So in this show it’s hilarious because I get to fall into net traps and I get pies in the face, and I get to do all the crazy stunts and nutty stuff that happens to the goofy adult. It’s pretty fun.”
Fun, and a far cry from the typical career associated with Ellie’s post-secondary education.
She moved to Vancouver to pursue an acting career after attaining a political studies degree at the University of Manitoba – not exactly the line of work one would immediately link to such a degree.
“I didn’t come from a show-biz family – I always wanted to do it, but university education was always really important to my mother so I knew I had to get something under my belt, and a theatre major was not even an option back then,” Ellie said. “The last year of (university) I took some theatre classes… and it was really up my alley. My prof at the time, George Toles, told me I should audition for the (Vancouver) Playhouse so I did and I got in.
“Had he not said that, I would probably be a lawyer. So I have him to thank.”
In more ways than one. Not only was Toles
responsible for Ellie getting into acting to begin with, her start in improv was a key in landing the role of Candace Wheeler.
Some Assembly Required (Mondays, 6:30 p.m., YTV) is a show about a teen owner of a toy company. Jarvis Raines (played by Kolton Stewart) is awarded the company in a court ruling, after a lawsuit over a defective chemistry set. Candace Wheeler is the former owner of the company, who will stop at nothing to ensure Jarvis fails as its new head honcho.
“Candace is the main character, then she disguises herself as the cleaning lady to sabotage the company,” explained Ellie. “It’s a completely different character – I have to wear full prosthetic makeup and a fat suit, and she doesn’t speak English. She speaks gibberish. When we were at auditions, all us actresses were in the waiting room and everyone was nervous about that, but what served me well was my background in improv, with the Vancouver Theatre Sports League, where gibberish scenes were an every-night occurrence. So I wasn’t at all self-conscious. That’s probably what helped me get the gig.”
Her television-sitcom experience couldn’t have hurt, either.
Ellie looks back fondly upon her days as Morticia Addams, and says that television show provided her with the high point of her acting livelihood to date.
“It was probably my biggest role, and probably the highlight of my career was when John Astin (Gomez in the original Addams Family) came in to do an episode and was kissing my arm as Morticia. I was just, like, ‘what is happening?’ It was pretty great.”
From humble beginnings, to humble expectations. Now, with nearly 100 film and television credits to her name,Ellie says her career has exceeded any and all expectations she had, going in.
“Oh beyond, so far beyond,” she said. “Remember the show A Christmas Story? There was a scene where the boy was crawling up the slide to Santa, and there are elves on either side of Santa, saying ‘get lost, kid’. One of those elves was a woman and I remember thinking that if I could just do that, just that minor role, I would be so happy. That’s really all I was aiming for, and I have well surpassed it. So I am pretty lucky.”
That’s not to say she has any plans for retirement yet. One of the best things about an acting career is that, as long as you have your wits about you, there will be work available.
“Oh, and even then; you don’t need your wits,” she said, laughing. “Puh-lease. Have you seen some of these people? Did you watch the Oscars?”
Daniel Wesley livin’ the life of a rock star
Daniel Wesley is living the dream – the rock 'n' roll dream, that is.
“I am really lucky to be able to do this, every day,” said Daniel in a recent interview with Indulge. “I am doing what I love to do – making music – and am really lucky to be able to turn it into a career.
“There are still some days where I struggle to be comfortable with it..., with accepting the fact that this is my job and sometimes you're just kind of hanging out. It's a weird kind of thing but I know there are hundreds of people out there that would trade spots with me so they didn't have to work nine-to-five.”
He knows a little about the nine-to-five grind. The 32-year-old Lower Mainlander was an electrician prior to making the career change.
Daniel was born in White Rock and moved to Langley when he was five. He moved back to White Rock in his mid-20s and recorded his first couple of albums there. It's not all fun and games, but the down times for Daniel are, more and more, by choice.
His latest album, Ocean Wide, was released in April 2013 and after nearly a year of festivals, interviews and promo gigs, Daniel is just now getting some long awaited and well-earned family time.
He and his wife Melisa recently enjoyed their first Christmas as parents, with their son Finn (born in March, 2013) and the family just returned from a three-week winter escape to Hawaii.
And now, it’s back to ‘the grind’, as it is, with his regular accompanists; bassist Darren Parris and drummer Tim Proznick. “At the beginning of January I was in the studio for a week with the guys and we laid down about half an album of material…. I’m probably going to hit the studio right away now and record some more material. No hard deadline on when we will release that, but we will likely release it separately – part of it in the summer, part of it in the fall. But we will definitely have some new music out this year.”
Daniel’s early music, (i.e. Ooo-Ohh) has a definite reggae infusion to it, but his most recent releases have more of a straightforward rock edge. Fuel to Fire, from the Ocean Wide release, has been compared to the sounds of the Goo Goo Dolls and Sam Roberts.
Daniel said he is not tied to one genre.
“My music… each album is like its own iPod of music – a real myriad of music. Yes, there’s reggae stuff but three's also stuff that really rocks,” he said. “I just let each album be its own thing.”
As his career progresses, the opportunities expand for Daniel. He worked with well-known Canadian musician and producer Gavin Brown for a couple of tracks on Ocean Wide and looks forward to working with other Canadian music industry icons in the future.
“It was fun,” he said of his experience with Brown. “He’s a very respected Canadian producer and it is neat to work with guys like that. You just soak up everything he had to offer.
“There are a lot of good people out there who have been making records and music for a long time, and I have a long list of people who I’d love to work with. You pick up things from everybody.”
If there is a drawback to Daniel’s life (and he realizes that the word "drawback" is relative) it's that success comes at a price – a price that will only rise as Daniel's celebrity grows.
“If there's one down side to the industry, it's the time I have to spend away from friends and family,” he said. "My son was only 10 days old and I had to leave for a three-week trip. That was really hard, and that was only a short time. It would be great to start touring all over the world but I think that would be really difficult. I don’t know if I could be gone all the time.”
Daniel said he’s learned to take the bad with the good, and if that’s as bad as the bad gets, then, well, it’s pretty good.
“If you get to do something every day that you love … that’s pretty awesome. I don’t ever want to take that for granted.”