Canadian Screen Award nominees: Tamara Podemski and Ryan Belleville

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

Today, it’s Tamara Podemski, nominated for 2021 Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Coroner; and Ryan Belleville, nominated for 2021 Best Supporting Actor, Comedy for Workin’ Moms.

Tamara Podemski, nominated for 2021 Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Coroner

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
I think the Canadian TV Industry fared pretty well during the pandemic. I feel like the actor’s union, ACTRA, did a really good job at disseminating information about safety protocols, as well as support programs for people who needed access to health services, financial services, counselling services. If people don’t feel safe going to work, there is no industry. Based on my experience filming throughout the pandemic in Ontario, I can say that I did feel protected and very safe. There’s a lot of value in that. I also think streaming services did very well in the pandemic and CBC Gem offered this amazing, free opportunity for audiences to access so much more Canadian content and all of us storytellers and story makers have benefited greatly from those new viewers.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
I feel very blessed. I have experienced some serious dry spells in my career and yet, at a time of such suffering and uncertainty, this pandemic has brought me some really exciting and fulfilling work. I feel like opportunity and luck have aligned in the strangest and most marvelous of ways for me right now. During the first lockdown, I was in the middle of shooting my sister’s new TV drama, Unsettled, in North Bay. We were able to resume, safely, in June and then wrapped in September. Then I got to return to Coroner for Season 3, which we shot in the fall. In January, I started filming my new TV show Outer Range in New Mexico. But as much as the work has been plentiful, the real saving grace has been FaceTime dates with friends and family, backyard distance visits, leaving the city and moving to Georgian Bay, and participating in as many virtual gatherings/events as possible. The pandemic has been very isolating and any way that I can stay connected to my larger community has been vital and necessary.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Everyone is better and stronger and more impactful when they represent the truth and authenticity of who they are and where they come from. I think Canadian television has a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction. Canadians want to see their own communities and their own storytellers on the screen. I want that, too! Every role I take is an act of representation; an act of visibility and inclusion and making my voice heard. Our diversity in this country is more than just ‘quota fillers’ – we are the faces that make up this nation and we are ALWAYS better when we own that and celebrate it.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
Maybe I should answer the question this way … I’ve been acting in Canadian film and TV for almost 30 years and this is my first acting nomination from the Canadian Academy. So obviously, I’ve had to find many other sources of validation and encouragement to get me through those years! Awards are good feeling things, though, and it’s just nice to finally be invited to the party.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I’m working that night, so I will probably be wearing a Sheriff’s uniform and a cowboy hat.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Probably craft services. Veggie cup with hummus is my go-to these days.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
I was lucky enough to follow in the footsteps of women like my sister, Jennifer Podemski, Michelle St. John, Jani Lauzon, Monique Mojica and Shirley Cheechoo. These powerhouses claimed their space on the stage, screen and behind the camera and taught me that community responsibility, cultural accountability and artistic practice are all interconnected. My earliest introduction to professional performance was through these women, so I’m always grateful for their influence and guidance when I was so young and impressionable.

Ryan Belleville, nominated for 2021 Best Supporting Actor, Comedy for Workin’ Moms

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The Canadian film and TV industry is booming right now. While the U.S. was in the midst of the garbage fire that is COVID, Canadians were heading the PM’s advice and avoiding speaking mostly to each other. The payoff? Every studio in Toronto was slammed, while L.A. was a ghost town. As for actual Canadian content? More people have been watching it than ever. Millions of people around the world were binging Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience and Workin’ Moms, just to name a few. I just finished the most recent season of The Expanse which I know isn’t officially a Canadian show, but it’s full of Canadian talent.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
My screen time is up so high that my last phone screen time report just read: You are phone now. Seriously though, thank god for technology to get us through this. Zoom, and video games, and streaming. I also live in California, which has completely turned things around, and it almost feels like normal life again … almost.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Canadian TV is absolutely having its moment in the sun, and I really hope it continues. We are telling more varied stories, from more diverse viewpoints, and people are watching. Not just in Canada, but around the world. I feel as though we are finally shedding this overly Canadiana hokey point of reference that had to be shoehorned into every show. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding a snow machine in the backcountry, but the overwhelming majority of Canadians live in urban settings and have big-city modern-day problems.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
Ha! I don’t think I’ve ever been confident I’m on the right track. It’s just that this is all I’ve ever known how to do. It is nice to be recognized for the work in the show, especially with my buddy, and fellow Loose Moose Theatre Alumni, Calgarian Andrew Phung.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Robe … maybe underwear. Wait … can people see me while I watch? In that case, I will wear a nice shirt and a tie … no pants … maybe underwear.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I’d like to say I’m going to order some expensive sushi, and drink champagne, but I’m a tired parent with kids who are home all the time, so it’ll probably be pizza flavoured goldfish and a juice box.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
My parents. They are both gifted artists, who taught me the importance of staying true to yourself. I remember watching them as a child when they were on stage and being hypnotized by how they could move an audience.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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