Elysia - Talent Around The Block

Have you ever pretended to beat up bad guys in your room, making sound effects and breaking a sweat? Elysia kicks ass in real life. Take an exclusive look at her career, between the throwing-stars and cameras.

• Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Elysia White and I’m a Toronto-based actor. I haven’t had time for a joe job lately and somehow have managed to sustain my life on acting work and odd jobs—who knew that was possible?!

• In the web series Haphead, you are playing Maxine, an empowered young woman. What attracted you to the role?

It’d be a significantly shorter list if you wanted to know what I don’t like about the role. Actually, it wouldn’t be a list because there’s nothing about Maxine that I dislike. I have a lot in common with her, it was an “easy” role to slip into. I love that she doesn’t care about the stuff that teenage girls are told to obsess over—make up, boys, gossip etc. She is a no-nonsense go-getter who spends her days working towards becoming the best version of herself. She’s clever, tough as nails, stubborn as hell, and still human. She still loves and hurts but it’s that true “I’ve got your back” love that runs in her veins for her father and friends.

• How important are strong female leading roles in our media today?

They are everything!!! Aaaahhhh!! But really, I can’t stress enough how deeply and truly I believe that strong female leads are needed so desperately. Hollywood is catching on, they exist, but they’re still few and far between. I grew up thinking that stories about women were boring and I blamed my own gender, no word of a lie. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, not Topanga, you know? Sure, there were a bunch of strong female counterparts or team players, but they always had a stronger man around and always fell victim to a love story. Nothing against love stories but all I wanted to see was the badass lone wolf getting things done and no female lead ever did that for me (well, I mean, eventually I saw Captain Janeway and Lara Croft but it was later). I was a “tomboy” as a result and looking back on it really I just needed to see the right leading lady. And now I feel I need to BE that leading lady so the next generation doesn’t make the same mistake I did.

• Haphead has a variety of action sequences, what physical skills did you need to learn? What are other techniques you either have learnt already and/or would like to in the future?

I needed to expand on my basic stage combat training with some Muai Thai and other martial arts moves. I stayed active as much as possible before shooting and I was able to pick up a lot of the moves quickly. I had a brief session with Adrian Ellis (Geiss) before shooting the fight scene with him then we just dove right it. Same thing with Ben Devries, a quick session then a crapload of learning on the fly.
I’m always looking to expand my fight knowledge! I taught myself how to use a crossbow, throwing stars/knives, I can fence, use butterfly knives efficiently, little things. As a result I now own a very ladylike amount of weapons. I’m going to be taught how to ride a motorcycle for the upcoming feature film Red Spring (which I’m the female lead in) so that’s going to be awesome!

• What is a typical day on set like?

I don’t think any day is typical really and it always depends on the project at hand. It’s a lot of early mornings and late nights. It’s a big hurry up and wait game. Some days you sit at a kitchen table all day with mentally exhausting dialogue and other days you show up on set at 6pm, kick a few asses and head home at 7am. You have to be ready to go at any given moment. When they’re setting up the shot, you better damn well be prepping and staying alert and focused so when you get in front of that camera you are ON. Also, it’s hard not to binge eat Doritos from the craft table—I don’t want to talk about it.

• You are currently working on a new independent horror feature called Red Spring, what is the film about and what kind of role do you play?

Basically it’s a post-apocalyptic war/survival story. Vampires have essentially taken over the world—and we’re not talking sparkly moody vampires that date humans, they’re more comparable to drug addicts who have such a hunger for human flesh they’ll go to any lengths to get it. Vampires, though victims of their hunger, are smart unlike zombies; they can use war tactics to attain their goals. I play one of the pocket survivors, Vicky. She’s a leather-clad, crossbow-wielding badass who rides into the lives of some other survivors on her motorcycle. She’s extremely intelligent, knows a LOT about the current situation—the kind of girl that watches the news with a critical eye, you know? Doesn’t believe everything she hears and forms her own opinions, which she will make sure you know. She can gravitate towards sarcasm as a defence mechanism, she has some emotional walls up for sure. Everyone is the only surviving member of ANYONE they ever knew, it’s hard on a human’s sanity to deal with that and come together with these people they wouldn’t otherwise hang out with. It’s a really beautiful web of surviving the war and surviving each other. We just completed our Indiegogo campaign! We asked for $6,000 to cover a lot of the basics but managed to surpass stretch goal territory with over $11,000 so we can now afford better make-up, contact lenses for the vampires to save time on editing them in post, a bunch of seemingly little things that in the end will make a big difference. It’s going to be awesome.

• What does it take to be successful in the film industry in Toronto?

You need to understand that success and making money aren’t synonymous. It’s weird. People are talking to me like I’m a hot shot sometimes and I’m like… huh? Me? I have fans? When I graduated from Ryerson Theatre School, I got an agent straight away and I waited by the phone for a year. No one wants you fresh out of school, it’s a fact. I took matters into my own hands, still going to the car commercial and “Pretty Girl #2” auditions my agent was sending me on, and started to realize I need to hustle. I sucked it up and went to networking events, I reached out to people in the industry, I said yes to EVERYTHING that came my way and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Now I can say no to stuff I don’t see a backbone in, and that’s a really cool feeling. I think if you’re successful, you’ll never really know it, because you should be too busy hustling to get the next thing. And don’t join the union right away. Just don’t. You get one permit for some commercial and think yay! Now I can join the union and be a working actor! False. I’ve seen talented actors join the union too early after one or two paid gigs and then nothing happens. You can only do union work, you’re not experienced to get union work, and you’re sitting twiddling your thumbs looking up through the glass ceiling you installed yourself. I’m going to be forced to join in about a month but I pushed it as long as I could and now my resume is glorious.

• If there is one character or actor who has impressed you greatly, who is it and why?

Angelina Jolie is my spirit animal. She’s so incredibly talented but talent is something you’re born with, it’s not impressive to just have talent. She’s a hustler. She’s crazy. She’s passionate. She’s sensual. She’s driven. She’s everything I aspire to be. In grade twelve I was in a Regional Arts Drama program and we had to choose someone, an actor, who we thought changed the world or had broken down barriers, research them to then become them for a half hour interview. I chose Angelina, I drew on her tattoos, I went all out. The more I learned about her, the more I respected her and that’s how I want to be. 

• Is there a role that would be a dream come true to perform?

Indiana Jones.

• Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I don’t even know what I’m doing next week. In ten years I see myself going through every door that opens and taking life by the horns.

• Where can we find you?

I live on West Queen West, almost Parkdale—Queen and Gladstone. I love my neighbourhood, it has everything. Trinity Bellwoods is my backyard, I have unlimited food options, the Ossington strip is right there. It’s great. I’m only here for another month though, sadly, as I’ll be living in Kincardine for a month to shoot Red Spring then heading down to live in New York City. I’m getting’ hitched! Once upon a time I had a short film (Just Ella by the creator of Haphead Jim Munroe) in the Toronto After Dark Festival. It played before a zombie movie called The Battery and I thought one of the leads was SUPER cute so I hunted him down at the after party to find he’s from Manhattan—one thing lead to another and now budda boom budda bing he gave me a ring. I’ll miss Toronto SO much though. New York is great but I love my city. I plan to commute back frequently. You can’t bring a Bellwoods Brewery four pack to Central Park, and that’s a cryin’ shame.

• If Toronto was a person, what kind would it be?

Well, definitely a well-rounded person. If Toronto was just my neighbourhood, it’d be a hipster no doubt. But ALL of Toronto? I’m imagining a mid-thirties freelance photographer who owns his own business, does really well, and is crazy professional and in demand all over the world. Straightforward, no-nonsense, no patience for laziness but loves to lay in the grass with a beer on those rare off-days. Great beard. Looks like James Bond in a suit and Leo DiCaprio in khakis. Toronto is actually a hottie. I have a crush on Toronto.

• Last word for the road?

Stick to your guns, people. Get those 10,000 hours, become a master of your craft. Nothing happens overnight. Hustle, be on time, be nice, and do damn good work. Recipe for success. 

If you want to stay updated check out the Elysia White page on IMDb.

https://www.facebook.com/redspringfilm www.instagram.com/elysiacassandra www.twitter.com/elysiacassandra https://www.youtube.com/user/hapheadvid

Interested in Haphead? You can see the first season at www.haphead.com or follow @haphead on all forms of social media. Red Spring will have cool updates coming up too! You can find all that info and sneak peeks on Facebook or follow @redspringfilm.  


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