From backup vo­cals to lead­ing roles

North Toronto grad Re­becca Jenk­ins on work­ing with Kevin Spacey and Sarah Pol­ley

North Toronto Post - - Life - by Ju­lia Mas­troianni

Re­becca Jenk­ins, singer and ac­tor best known for her work in Bye Bye Blues and Sarah Pol­ley’s Sto­ries

We Tell, has al­ways been a per­former.

“I re­mem­ber in Grade 6, I would find my friends and ask them to sing backup for fun. Up at the cot­tage, we’d make up plays — my sis­ter and I were just re­mem­ber­ing one we had writ­ten called Rob the Bob,” Jenk­ins says and laughs.

The North Toronto Col­le­giate In­sti­tute grad­u­ate never re­mem­bers tak­ing drama class in high school, but she re­calls singing in front of the whole school a cou­ple of times.

Jenk­ins says she had a mu­si­cal child­hood.

“We had mu­sic around us all the time. We were al­ways singing on camp­ing trips, and my mom sang to us ev­ery night with her gui­tar,” she says.

Af­ter com­plet­ing high school, Jenk­ins pur­sued a gen­eral arts de­gree with a mi­nor in mod­ern dance at the Univer­sity of Water­loo, but af­ter au­di­tion­ing for

Cabaret and get­ting the lead, she says the choice was easy.

“I would say the mo­ment on­stage in Cabaret when we did our first dress re­hearsal was when I fully un­der­stood what it meant to in­habit a char­ac­ter,” she says.

“It’s ac­tu­ally quite a shock­ing and mag­i­cal mo­ment when you are im­mersed in a role.”

Jenk­ins im­me­di­ately switched her ma­jor to drama and left the Univer­sity of Water­loo for the Van­cou­ver Play­house Act­ing School. How­ever, af­ter one year in Van­cou­ver, she de­cided that pro­gram wasn’t right for her ei­ther.

From there, her ca­reer be­gan to flour­ish. Jenk­ins was hired as Canadian singer Jane Siberia’s backup vo­cal­ist for four tours and sev­eral al­bums. She also toured with Toronto band the Parachute Club and co-fronted the band, Fly­ing De­bris with David Hines.

Around the same time, Jenk­ins was asked by a cast­ing di­rec­tor to au­di­tion for Fam­ily Re­union, a CBC com­edy, and she got the role as the ro­man­tic lead.

“That was the be­gin­ning of ev­ery­thing,” Jenk­ins says.

Her fo­cus then be­came act­ing. Her break­out mo­ment oc­curred when she was cast in Anne Wheeler’s Bye Bye Blues, a 1989 in­die film set in the Sec­ond World War, as the lead char­ac­ter of Daisy Cooper.

She cites that per­for­mance as one of the ones she is proud­est of.

Jenk­ins’s film and TV cred­its have continued from there, from play­ing Kevin Spacey’s wife in Dar­row to Sarah Pol­ley’s mother

in Sto­ries We Tell, a doc­u­men­tary where Pol­ley in­ves­ti­gates the truth about her fam­ily his­tory.

Through­out her ca­reer, Jenk­ins says she has al­ways been in­ter­ested in sto­ry­telling.

“You al­ways hope to be, in any way, do­ing hon­est and truth­ful work that moves peo­ple or makes them laugh,” Jenk­ins says.

“That’s what art is for — it helps you through dif­fi­cult times, and it helps you cel­e­brate the things that are im­por­tant, and, boy, do we ever need that right now!”

Jenk­ins has continued to sing, re­cently on a duet al­bum Ernesto

and Delilah with Kevin Breit. She has also recorded three al­bums with her hus­band, Joel Bakan, who plays jazz gui­tar.

For now, though, aside from a project that is in the be­gin­ning stages with Sarah Pol­ley, Jenk­ins has an­other skill to add to her re­sume.

“Start­ing Aug. 28, I be­gin acupunc­ture school,” as she plans to get her acupunc­ture li­cence.

Re­becca Jenk­ins has recorded three al­bums with her hus­band Joel Bakan

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