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Tennille Read | Toronto | Right Mindset!!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an actor, pursuing it head-on took a bit of time to commit to. I guess I feared the instability of choosing that kind of career. It was obvious that I loved performing as a kid. I was often making up stories and telling them to friends while walking home from school. Or my sister and I would record ourselves narrating books with different voices for each character. I wish I could find those cassettes. It’d be funny to listen to myself read Frog and Toad Are Friends now. My grade five teacher had been an actor and told us a bit about that. He was also very flexible with his writing assignments and gave us the option to perform them in some inventive way. That led to me creating skits and songs that I performed with classmates. While I did an undergrad in theatre and film studies, I was also doing amateur theatre with some on-camera work on the side. The huge leap happened however when I was 30 when I decided to go to theatre school. The average age of my classmates was 20 and instead of feeling like I was somehow behind, I threw myself into it, expanded on my “extra” years of experience, and completed three of the most challenging years of my life. That conservatory led me to sign with one of Toronto’s top acting agents, and I went professional in both theatre and tv/film. It’s never too late to pursue your passion or take it to the next level. Investing in yourself is an amazing thing that pays off when you’re doing what’s authentic to yourself.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

This biggest initial hurdle to building my business was juggling passion projects with the work that paid the bills. For a few years out of the gates of theatre school, I worked on a handful of new Indie scripts or works in development. I loved the process of helping shape a character in the rehearsal room. I also loved the characters I was being asked to play - often they were complex female characters who had a lot of agency. Indie work is so beautiful in that way - it takes risks, and breaks down conventional standards. Unfortunately, not all the indie projects paid, so I had to juggle working as a server and other part time jobs along with rehearsals, acting in a shows and going to auditions. What helped me over come this juggle, at the time, was being open to doing commercials. Landing a National commercial kept me afloat for several months and I didn’t need to commit so heavily to the “Joe Jobs.” Eventually I began working a lot in film and TV so the financial stress has been lightened even more. And fortunately, I’ve been booking TV and film roles that satisfy my creative needs.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I love books with multi-dimensional female characters who have a lot of agency. I just finished the Neapolitan quartet by Elena Ferrante. It’s such a multi-layered read and as geeky as this sounds, it simply grew my understanding of the human spirit. I also listen to a lot of podcasts that are related to entrepreneurs, and my absolute favourite has been James Wedmore’s “The Mind Your Business Podcast.” The topics he explores are applicable to anyone really. Another go-to podcast for me is Sam Jones’ “Off Camera.” He interviews actors that I have huge respect for, and I always find their experiences to be inspiring and informative.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

My parents have always been supportive of what I wanted to do, but I know it worried them that I was choosing to follow a very unstable path, and I think that made me hesitate a little too (which is probably why I didn’t go to theatre school until I was 30)! I handled it by first proving to myself that I was committed and I could make a living doing it. I felt that once I believed in myself, it would, by extension, make them believe in me. And if it didn’t, then at least I had my own foundation of my inner strength to keep going. I think their understanding of my career, and me in general, just needed to take time, and so being patient with that and not having any expectations of them helped that happen.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

The single most influential factor in my acting success has been having the right mindset. Making choices that feel authentic to me, being open and learning from each experience, and believing in what I have to offer - that all goes a long way.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I wish I had known how to build and access my confidence from within earlier. I think I used to believe that my confidence would arrive after I had taken a certain amount of classes (with certain teachers), experienced certain things, or had read enough books and plays. I thought I needed all that before I could succeed, instead of knowing that learning and success can happen simultaneously.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Believe in yourself and know that your uniqueness, is your strength. There will always be an audience that can relate to you when you do your thing authentically. Focus on that audience, instead of spending all your energy trying to convince the others to like you.

Photo Credit: Dane Clark


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