TV star tack­les stud­ies at McGill

KIRSTEN PROUT: ‘Hum­bling to re­al­ize you . . . know noth­ing’

The Province - - E-today - BY GLEN SCHAE­FER STAFF RE­PORTER

Af­ter three years as one of the stars of the ABC Fam­ily TV se­ries Kyle XY, Kirsten Prout is try­ing a new role — she’s a first-year arts stu­dent at Montreal’s McGill Uni­ver­sity.

“It’s hum­bling to re­al­ize you ba­si­cally know noth­ing,” says Prout, back home in North Van­cou­ver for read­ing break. “I grew up on sets where I was treated like I was 25, al­lowed to make de­ci­sions for my­self. It makes you think you know what you’re do­ing. In uni­ver­sity you’re in classes with in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent peo­ple — you re­al­ize you’re not an ex­pert on ev­ery­thing.”

Kyle XY airs its last episodes in March. Prout played the girl­friend of the ti­tle char­ac­ter (Amer­i­can ac­tor Matt Dal­las), a mys­te­ri­ous teen sa­vant adopted by a sub­ur­ban fam­ily. Prout was play­ing her own age in the show, un­like the eight-years-older Dal­las and most of the show’s other ac­tors.

“It was so sur­real. I had to put my head in that place where every­one was the same age as me. Oth­er­wise it would get so weird. I think that made me grow up pretty fast,” says Prout, who at­tended West Van­cou­ver’s Colling­wood school while do­ing her TV work.

From an early age, Prout wanted to be like the princesses in the Dis­ney movies. “It was just that de­sire to be a char­ac­ter, to be some­one else.”

Her par­ents, a neu­rol­o­gist and a so­cial worker, thought she’d out­grow the urge, but she kept ask­ing her mother to take her to au­di­tions. They fi­nally gave in, and a first au­di­tion for a TV movie was en­cour­ag­ing, even though Prout didn’t get the role.

She scored a com­mer­cial with Wayne Gret­zky that re­quired the suc­cess­ful kid to spout a mono­logue that in­cluded the word “sus­tain­able” and other poly­syl­la­bles. “All the other kids were cry­ing out­side, their moms were like, ‘It’s Wayne Gret­zky. You have to do this right.’ It was a big speech for a kid and I had a re­ally good mem­ory.”

That was when she was about 10, and soon af­ter­wards the pre-teen Prout told her agent she didn’t want to do com­mer­cials any­more. It might have been that com­mer­cial she did in­volv­ing kids on go-karts, where she was sup­posed to be cheer­ing the other kids on.

“I let out this scream like I was be­ing mur­dered.”

A cast­ing di­rec­tor heard the scream and put her on an episode of TV’s First Wave as a pos­sessed lit­tle kid.

“I was wear­ing makeup like I was dy­ing. That was great. I had a lot of fun. I guess I was born 40. I couldn’t take Bar­bie com­mer­cials se­ri­ously.”

More roles fol­lowed, in­clud­ing her turn as a young mar­tial arts whiz in 2005’s Elek­tra along­side Jen­nifer Gar­ner at age 14. Then came Kyle XY and the bal­anc­ing of a hec­tic TV shoot­ing sched­ule with work.

“My mom was al­ways very sup­port­ive. She saw that when I was on set, I just lit up. She couldn’t take that away, but at the same time she en­cour­aged me to go to school.”

The Van­cou­ver-filmed se­ries aired on the U.S.-only ABC Fam­ily net­work, which meant Prout could be anony­mous back home. And steady work meant Prout didn’t have to dip heav­ily into the ed­u­ca­tion fund her par­ents had saved for her and her four-yearsy­ounger sis­ter.

“They still in­sist on help­ing me out. But my par­ents didn’t have to buy me my first car. I was able to do that.”

That would be the Audi TT con­vert­ible she left back home, away from Montreal’s harsh win­ter.

This sum­mer will bring a re­turn to Van­cou­ver and more au­di­tions, and Prout con­cedes that act­ing work might some­times in­ter­rupt her lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy stud­ies. But she wants to go the dis­tance, as ear­lier child ac­tors Jodie Foster and Natalie Port­man did.

“Natalie Port­man skipped a Star Wars pre­miere to study for an exam. Those are my role mod­els.”

North Van­cou­ver’s Kirsten Prout has starred in Kyle XY for three years.

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