Posts Tagged ‘Canada’
Aliza Vellani is no stranger within the Canadian entertainment industry.Particularly, the actress is well known for her role as the teenaged character of Layla Siddiqui on CBC’S hit sitcom,Little Mosque on the Prairie.
With Little Mosque having been off the air for nearly 2 years and Aliza continuing to explore pursuits within the Canadian entertainment industry , I thought it’s a great time to connect with the delightful actress.
Particularly we discuss Little Mosque’s impact, her reflections on portraying the character of Layla as well as the series finale and much more! We also discuss the actress’ role on CTV’S Motive in the show’s upcoming second season which is scheduled to debut in summer 2014.
Read through the complete interview with Aliza Vellani below and share your thoughts on it in the comments section.
Abbas Karimjee:How do you think both Little Mosque and specifically the character of Layla will be remembered as?
Aliza Vellani:I think Layla will be remembered as a loveable Muslim teenager. A young girl, who simply goes through the everyday struggles of discovering her own identity. Layla had the added challenge of finding a balance between her family values and the values of the community at large. I think this is something all teenagers can relate to and it makes Layla a charming character to remember.
AK: Little Mosque on the Prairie aimed to dispel stereotypes about Muslims and help bring light to the way in which we are all similar regardless of our cultural or religious differences. To what extent do you think the show was successful in achieving this goal and essentially how do you think it changed how the mainstream society perceives Muslims?
AV:Little Mosque on the Prairie was remarkable as it served to educate its audiences on Islamic culture and practices in a humourous and family friendly setting. In doing so it tried to dispel those stereotypes by using them as a source of laughter. In a wonderful ‘laugh at yourself’ style.
AK:Little Mosque was the first of its kind, in terms of a show which used comedy to showcase Muslims in a positive light. How do you think the fact that CBC dared to feature the show, reflects Canadian culture?
AV:I think it reflects Canadian culture in a very positive light. CBC tackled sensitive and potentially controversial issues in a great way. It demonstrated multiculturalism and acceptance as a work in progress not just in Canada but around the world.
AK:When we last saw Layla in the series finale, she informed her father, Baber [Manoj Sood] that she had decided to pursue acting instead of going to medical school. Although the show is no longer on the air, what was your reaction to Layla’s decision and how do you envision her future?
AV:In many ways, I saw a big part of myself in Layla. It made the ending so special to me because it reflected my own pursuit in life. I like to imagine that Layla still manages to drive her Dad crazy with her choices in life and yet give him memories to cherish. I believe the healthy tug of war between Baber and Layla continues in every loving household as young girls explore their options in life with Daddy on guard.
AK:How has working on Little Mosque impacted both your career and your personal life?
AV:Being on Little Mosque on the Prairie was the most amazing experience. The best training one can get is through experience. I was so lucky that Little Mosque presented itself to me at such a young age. I was also very lucky to be able to work with several seasoned performers. They remain my mentors and I consider them part of my family. I really grew up on that show and it felt like a wonderful chapter in my life ended with the series. Little Mosque on the Prairie gave me more than I ever could have hoped and I will always be grateful for that.
Let us discuss your role on CTV’S Motive.
AK: What character do you portray and how many episodes do you appear in?
AV:I play a doctor named Dr. Gita Ambreen in the eighth episode of Motive’s second season.
AK:Lets discuss how you were appointed to the role of Dr.Ambreen. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
AV:My agent, Emilio Salituro from Muse Artist Management, had contacted me with the audition a couple of days before the taping. Luckily, I was able to audition between classes at SFU.
AK: What can you tell us about Dr.Gita Ambreen? Could you please describe her personality and perhaps how it differs from Layla’s?
AV:Layla was a teenager in the series while Dr. Gita Ambreen is both an adult and a doctor. Dr. Ambreen is a naturally professional character. She follows protocol. On the other hand Layla, was a charming but rebellious teenager.
AK:Portraying a role in a crime series can have a more serious and darker tone than a comedy series such as Little Mosque on the Prairie. What challenges were involved in adjusting to working on a darker, more serious show? Which type of genre do you prefer working in?
AV:A comedy is very light hearted while a crime series is quite serious reflecting high stakes. I loved working in comedy, but being part of a crime genre was new and extremely exciting. It is definitely a genre that I would love to do more of.
AK:Did you have to do research to portray the role of a doctor? If so, could you please walk us through this process?
AV:Much of the dialogue in the scenes was fairly straightforward so there wasn’t much I had to research. Of course an important part in preparing for a scene is making sure you know exactly what you are talking about. I had to make sure I truly understood what I was saying, and knew how Dr. Gita Ambreen contributed to the events that occurred.
AK:Motive is a series where investigators try to look at who committed a murder by looking at what the motive of the crime is and based on that, who may have committed the crime. Without giving too much away, how does your character support the storyline of the episode in which you appear?
AV:Dr. Ambreen plays a small role in furthering the investigation when Detectives Vega and Flynn follow a lead in the case.
AK:Though you only worked on Motive for one episode, are there any favourite memories either onscreen or off screen which you would like to share with viewers?
AV:Working on Motive was a wonderful experience. It was great getting to know the other cast and crew on the show between takes on set. My favourite moments on set seem to occur when the unexpected happens. As I was playing a doctor, I was given a pager to attach to my belt during the scene. As we began to run the scene, my pager goes off in the middle of the scene. It was an unexpected surprise.
Lets discuss your career in general.
AK:You recently completed studying Theatre at the Simon Fraser University. Congratulations! How does it feel and what aspirations do you have for your acting career at this point?
AV:Thanks Abbas! It is such a relief to have completed my university degree but also very scary as I enter yet another new and unknown chapter in my life. As an actor, you are constantly in training to strengthen your skills but this will be the first time I will be pursuing acting without being a fulltime student. I think at this point in my career, anything is possible. I am very excited to put all of my efforts into being an actor and working hard to achieve that goal.
AK: You have led a distinguished career, having developed a fair bit of prominence within the Canadian entertainment industry. What advice do you have for youth who are interested in pursuing a career in acting or in the arts, in general?
AV:Thank you again. That is so kind of you to say Abbas. Hopefully this is just the beginning. It takes so much to pursue your passion and it is something I think everyone should do no matter what the obstacles. In pursuing acting as a career, I think my advice for youth would be to always try and have fun. The reason you pursue your passion is because you want enjoy what you do every day. If you lose that, what’s the point? Never forget to enjoy yourself, even when auditioning. In my mind, auditioning is just as much a part of the job description.
AK:Do you have a message for fans who have been following your career?
AV:I would like to say thank you for all the support I have been given so far, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the work I do in the future. It has been an amazing journey so far and I cannot wait for what lies ahead.
Every week until the season 3 premiere of Mr. D on February 24 @ 9:00pm, CBC will be releasing a webisode of “Jimmy Get Out” .The short online episodes cover the variety of escapades which the character of Jimmy undertakes after he routinely gets kicked out of class by his teacher, Gerry Dee.
See this week’s episode below to see how Gerry assists Trudy in the office during his time out from class and share your response to this week’s clip in the comments section!
Sniekus has also created,written and acted in the web series, The CastingRoom.biz.The actress has also appeared in the Martin Short Special, I MartinShort and won the CCA 2010 award for best female improviser.The extraordinary actress also serves as the founding member of the Canadian award winning troupe,The National Theatre of the World.com.
More recently,Naomi has been involved with CBC’S hit sitcom,Mr. D where for the past two seasons,she has been portraying the tough and authoritative yet highly respected gym teacher,Bobbi.
With Mr D approaching its third season and Naomi willing to participate in a interview with me, we discuss the ways in which she has related to the character, Bobbi’s previous storylines in the recent second season with her on and off again boyfriend ,Craig and her working relationship with the character of Gerry as well as her reflections on the success of Mr. D.
Furthermore, we discuss the extent to which Mr. D reflects truths about aspects of the Canadian educational system, other projects the actress is involved in as well as much more.
Read through the complete interview below!
Abbas Karimjee: Lets start by discussing your appointment to the role of Bobbi. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
Naoimi Snieckus:I was at the original table read for the FIRST pilot at CBC. After that I still had to audition for the pilot, which I did. I remember I had to bring my dogs to the audition – probably helped me keep my cool – I did the audition and then forgot about the part. I was visiting my mother a little while later and got “the call” that I was flying to Halifax the next day to shoot the pilot – not as exotic as flying to Los Angeles – but I was still VERY excited!
AK:How have you related to the character of Bobbi?
NS:I like Bobbi’s “no-nonsense” approach to things and I’m VERY good at sports. Oh..and I too always wear a whistle but it’s just an accessory really.
AK:What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome in portraying the character of Bobbi?
NS:I’m used to wearing very high heels and pencil skirts every day in normal life – plus I like to spend 2-3 hours doing my hair and make up. Playing Bobbi- I wear track suits and put my hair in a pony tail….it’s VERY challenging to find a way of spending those extra hours.
AK:You have worked on both animated productions such as Franklin and Cat in the Hat as well as set productions such as Mr. D. Which type of acting do you prefer and why?
NS:I love that in my career I get to do a little bit of everything – I also have an improv company called The National Theatre of the World (www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com) so being able to perform live helps me keep my comedy muscles strong.
AK:Bobbi and Gerry have had their differences clearly displayed through various episodes , including how she refused to hire him for a gym teaching position when there was an opening and more recently in the finale, passing him down for a chance to lead a senior boys basketball team at Xavier Academy. We have also seen numerous instances when Bobbi has taken great pleasure in deceiving and teasing Gerry.-How do you think Bobbie feels about Gerry and why do you think this is the case? Generally, how would you describe the two’s working relationship?
NS:They are like Scully and Mulder, Sony and Cher, 2 of the 3 Stooges – they HAVE to work together but it’s challenging. At least they speak a common language – sports – they’ll always have that…they’ll always have the courts.
AK:This past season we see Bobbi’s hostile and somewhat oppressive interactions with her on and off again boyfriend, Craig. What do you think the character’s behavior with Craig speaks to her personality and how would you like to see the two’s relationship develop in the coming season?
NS:I think the writers wrote some great stuff for Bobbi and Craig – I mean, he’s an ACTUAL Calvin Klein Model – it’s a fantastic bit of comedy that those two would ever be together. As far as Season 3 and where things go…I can’t speak about that, I’ve been sworn to secrecy! There’s definitely some surprises in store for Bobbi!
AK:With Mr. D approaching its third season, what are you able to tell us about what might be in store , both for the show in general as well as for character of Bobbi in particular?
NS:HA…nice try, I still can’t tell you about Season 3…you’re going to have to tune in…but let’s just say Bobbi and Gerry wrestle some big ideas together!
AK: What are your favorite onscreen or off-screen memories, thus far, from working on Mr D?
NS:We have so much fun on and off screen. The cast and directors we’ve had keep our set really fun so that even when the camera ISN’T rolling we’re still having laughs.
AK: Mr D has achieved record-breaking ratings on CBC since the debut of CBC’S hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie with the series premiere earning a 1.3 million rating. Why do you think the show resonates with such a large audiences?
NS:I think everyone can relate to this show cause we’ve all been taught by teachers like Gerry, or Lisa, or Simon, or Bobbi – and there’s a lot of teachers that see themselves in the show.
AK:How do you think the show’s depiction of how staff members relate to one another as well as to the student and parent body is representative of real life interactions within the Canadian educational system?
NS:Because the writing is based largely on Gerry’s real life job as a teacher – everything has a level of truth to it. I love that about this show.
AK:You have appeared in a variety of Canadian series including Little Mosque on the Prairie,Ron James Show, Being Erica and Wingin’ It, Why do you think viewers should take an interest in Canadian programming and particularly, what value, in general, does Canada’s diverse programming offer?
NS:I think there is great TV being made in Canada –both in comedy and drama.If we want to continue to grow as an industry it has to be supported by our country.There’s so many ways of having your voice, your opinion heard about these shows on social network- so I think we should talk about it as much as possible. Folks like you are helping for sure!
AK:What message do you have for fans of the show, with Mr. D approaching season 3?
NS:If you like to laugh, you should watch…if you don’t like to laugh…what is WRONG with you?
AK:What activities do you participate in during your spare time?
NS:Running The National Theatre of the World (with my partner Matt Baram) keeps me really busy. We have regular shows in Toronto (I Seen You on TV the last Wed of every month at The Drake) and tour internationally. We are also part of the upcoming YYComedy Festival in Calgary (www.yycomedy.ca).We’ve been a company for 5 years now and we’re working on pitching our own TV shows presently. We have a residency at Soulpepper Theatre so we are doing improv shows there (like The Script Tease Project) and hosting an upcoming international improv festival in December. www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com @the_NTOW.
Booth Savage has been leading a distinguished career in the Canadian entertainment industry. Having graduated with a MFA from York University in 1992, Savage went on to be apart of the Candor College Theatre faculty.
Various additional accomplishments in his career include his attainment of Best Actor in a Leading Role” as Felix Batterinski in Alan King’s “The Last Season. He may be recognized by various viewers for his performance in the show , Canada Russia ’72, where he portrayed the role of the Team Canada head coach Harry Sinden in the CBC miniseries . Moreover, as a member of the Toronto Free Theatre, Savage has performed in over 100 plays in every province and territory with the exception of Yukon.
Also, for the past two years Booth Savage has been portraying the role Principal Mike Callaghan in CBC’S recent hit sitcom, Mr. D. With Mr , D approaching its this season and the Booth Savage kindly agreeing to participate in a interview with me, we discuss various aspects of how he has related to the character , his reflections on some of the storylines in which Principal Callghan has been heavily apart of in the recent season ,the actor’s insight on how his character interacts with the other characters on the show as well as why he thinks Mr. D has attracted such a large audience along with much more.
Read through the complete interview below and share your thoughts on it in in the comments section section below.
Abbas Karimjee:Lets start by discussing your appointment to the role of Mr. Callaghan. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
Booth Savage:Gerry and I worked together in a TV movie (Canada Russia 72) he told me then that he was going to have his own sit com, and when it happened that he wanted me to be a part of it. I was happy to humour him. Getting a sit com to air is about as easy as getting your pants on without lifting your feet. Then, one day (2years later) I got a call from my agent telling me that indeed Gerry was green lit for a pilot and that I had an audition for the Principal. I didn’t get the part. The pilot was shot with another actor playing Callaghan, but the CBC declined to pick the show up for broadcast. More time passed, Gerry was given an opportunity to reshoot the pilot and this time my audition was more successful and I did get the part. Gerry is not only the funniest guy on television, but the perhaps the most honourable.
AK:How do you relate to the character of principal Callaghan? Essentially, in what ways are you similar and different to the character?
BS:That’s a tough question. Gerry might be in a better position to answer that one. He cast me, so there has to be a reason, some quality in me that rings true for him, as the show is based on his real life teaching experiences and colleagues. I enjoy playing Callaghan, and it is extremely satisfying to work and learn from such an outstanding group of very funny people. I am awed every day I am on set by their wit and generosity.
AK:Are there any resources or tools which you utilized in preparations evolved in portraying a Principal?
BS:I’ve been an actor for a very long time. I suppose that it is all those years of practice and discovery that inform my choices as Callaghan.
AK:This season we discover that Callaghan has an ex wife with somewhat peculiar psychotic tendencies. What was your reaction in discovering this and would you like to see this particular storyline or any other aspects of his backstory explored within the coming season?
BS:I was thrilled to work with Linda Brooks. It was particularly satisfying for Callaghan to have met his match. But I’ve been working out all winter and look forward to the re-match.
AK: This season Callaghan’s sensitivity and concern for Xavier Zaademy and its various staff members was demonstrated in various ways. Notably, it was demonstrated in his interactions with his colleague, vice principal Robert in the season 2 finales where he gave him a comical lesson to show him how he takes things too seriously as apart of his performance evaluation. How would you describe the two’s working relationship and based on this how do you feel it has developed from the show’s inauguration? How do you feel this demonstrates the manner in which he interacts with his subordinates, in general?
BS:Robert aka Jonathon Torrens is one of the most gifted people I have ever worked with. I (Booth) love him. Callaghan has another point of view. I enjoy my scenes with Robert immensely. It’s tough to stare him down because he is so completely funny and I have no defense against his lightning quick wit. There is no way I can hope to keep up with him. I just hang on for dear life and trust that he’s good enough to steer us both to the other shore.
AK:Callaghan has had to discipline Gerry on various instances for his comedic yet inappropriate mishaps. How do you feel Callaghan feels about Gerry and what do you think allows him to tolerate his lack of compliance?
BS:Callaghan seems to intuit that it takes all kinds of teachers and human beings to enrich the students at Xavier. I think, as a principal, one of Callaghan’s strengths is his ability to recognize that while Gerry may not be the most traditional teacher in the school, his humour and a genuinely good heart adds a value that otherwise would be missing from the school.
AK:Mr D is approaching its third season. What are you able to tell us about what might be in store for the upcoming season both for the show in general and particularly for the character of principal Callaghan?
BS:Sorry, I’m not in that loop. I’m looking forward to learning what’s up as much as anyone.
AK:Mr D has achieved record-breaking ratings on CBC since the debut of CBC’S hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie with the series premiere earning a 1.3 million rating. Why do you think the show resonates with such a large audience?
BS:My guess is that most of the credit has to go to Gerry. He knew what it was he wanted to achieve from the very first script and he has remained true to that vision. Every once in a long while a creative energy emerges that resonates with a large audience and Gerry seems to possess that quality.
AK:You have led a distinguished career within the Canada entertainment industry. What advice do you have for those who aspire to pursue a career in acting?
BS:Be very sure. Be very committed. Be very flexible.
AK:What message do you have for viewers of Mr. D, with the show approaching its third season?
BS:Tell your friends. Write the CBC and tell them how much you like the show. Especially tell them how much you LOVE Callaghan.
AK:What hobbies do you enjoy during your spare time?
BS:I am currently learning all about hardwood flooring and its installation. As well, I love to travel. I love to read. And of course, both Callaghan and Savage love to work out.
Naomi has also created,written and acted in the web series, TheCastingRoom.biz.The actress has also appeared in the Martin Short Special, I MartinShort and won the CCA 2010 award for best female improviser.The extraordinary actress also serves as the founding member of the Canadian award winning troupe,The National Theatre of the World.com.
More recently,Naomi has been involved with CBC’S hit sitcom,Mr. D where for the past two seasons,she has been portraying the tough and authoritative yet highly respected gym teacher,Bobbi.
Join us today,from 7:00pm -8:00pm eastern standard time for a live question and answer session with the actress.YOU will have the chance to interact with the actress herself, through the comments section!
Viewers are invited to post comments and questions about any aspect related to Naomi’s involvement with Mr. D such her experiences on the sets of the show,her reflections on her experiences in portraying Bobbi,any specific questions related to the storylines of the hit series and other relevant questions and/or comments.Questions related to Naomi’s previous work as well as her alternate,current projects are also welcomed and highly encouraged.
With the season finale of Mr.D airing tonight @ 8:00pm eastern standard time on CBC and Naomi’s character continuing to play a prominent role in the show,it’s a great time and way for fans to interact with the delightful actress.
The comments section will open up shortly before the event @ approximately 6:45pm eastern standard time.In order to see Naoimi’s responses to the questions and to see what other readers are asking,be sure to refresh the page several times throughout the session.
Questions related to the event can be sent by e-mail @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Live technical support during the event will be available on the blog’s Facebook page.We look forward to hosting this event!
When Gerry comes across a down and out Daniel Negreanu (poker player), he orchestrates a staff poker night in order to get Daniel back on his feet[CBC]
CBC has released a preview of this week’s episode of Mr D, The Date. Take a look at the preview directly below and share your predictions in the comments section. Be sure to tune in for the episode on Wednesday @ 8;00pm eastern standard time on CBC.
Gerry and Jean’s date is interrupted, Leung’s makes an online video and Trudy regrets a decision.[TV Rage]
What is Leung’s video about and how is it received?What decision does Trudy make and why does she end up regretting it?
Viewers of Little Mosque on the Prairie should be excited to discover that the fifth season of the sitcom is now available for purchase through CBC’S Online Shop for a current sale price of $25:99[CA]
The fifth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, which initially aired from January 2011- March 2011 featured Amaar [Zaib Shaikh]and Rayyan’s [Sitara Hewitt]relationship as an engaged couple and the challenges involved in the two’s relationship which was observed in accordance to the Islamic faith,leading up to the much anticipated wedding. Meanwhile Reverend William Thorne[ Brandon Firla] attempts to reform and build positive relationships in the community in various ways, including one of a romantic nature with the town’s librarian, Rose. The season also brought forth special guest appearances by cast members from earlier seasons including Derek McGrath[ Reverend Duncan Magee] , Carlo Rota[ Yasir Hammoudi] and Aliza Vellani[ Layla Siddiqui].
The 2 disc DVD set features all 14 episodes as well as a bonus blooper. Additional features have been listed below, as seen on CBC’S Online Shop.Shipping is typically expected within 3-4 days, however may vary somewhat depending on factors such as location .
- Closed Captioned
- 16:9 Widescreen
- 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Region 0
Will you be purchasing the fifth season of the show? Should you be watching for the first time, which particular story element are you the most excited to see unfold? Share your response in the comments section, below.