From drama class to TIFF

Ac­tor Ron­nie Rowe Jr. on star­ring in the film Black Cop

Thornhill Post - - Life - by Jes­sica Padykula

It’s not ev­ery day that ac­tors get to see their work pre­miere at one of the big­gest and most im­por­tant film fes­ti­vals in the world. But that’s ex­actly what hap­pened for Thorn­hill ac­tor Ron­nie Rowe Jr. when Black Cop, a film he re­cently starred in, made its pre­miere at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber.

“I’m a Toronto boy, so to ex­pe­ri­ence that with so many fam­ily and friends was such a spe­cial mo­ment,” he says. “I’m so hum­bled by the pos­i­tive feed­back the film is get­ting, and that makes me want to keep dig­ging and do bet­ter.”

The movie was di­rected by Cory Bowles ( Trailer Park Boys) and was shot over just 12 days in Nova Sco­tia.

“What was re­ally spe­cial about this film was ev­ery­one’s com­mit­ment to the project. I had a feel­ing it would be a great film be­cause of that,” says Rowe. He de­scribes the film, which delves into race-based po­lice vi­o­lence, as a psy­cho­log­i­cal drama.

“It’s about a man’s strug­gle be­tween his duty and who he is and see­ing the du­al­i­ties of both worlds.”

Act­ing be­came part of Rowe’s life at an early age, do­ing plays in el­e­men­tary and high school, as well as thriv­ing in drama class at St. El­iz­a­beth Catholic High School in Vaughan.

And whereas you might think that it was those high school drama classes and stage pro­duc­tions that made the most sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on Rowe’s ca­reer, he also high­lights bas­ket­ball as some­thing that helped shape his cur­rent path.

“When I wasn’t pur­su­ing act­ing, I was re­ally in­volved in bas­ket­ball, which taught me dili­gence and pa­tience,” he says.

He played for his high school team and ex­plains how the sport helped to pos­i­tively af­fect his act­ing.

“I’m thank­ful for my time with bas­ket­ball. It taught me how much time I need to put in to achieve some­thing. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing how the two [bas­ket­ball and act­ing] co­a­lesce.”

The first role that stands out as a solid step­ping stone for Rowe was be­ing cast as one of the leads in the Woody Har­rel­son play A Bul­let for Adolf, which ran at Hart House Theatre.

“I got to in­ter­act with and hang out with an A-list ac­tor and have him say pos­i­tive things about what I was do­ing, which made me be­lieve more in my­self. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and a tra­jec­tory changer for sure,” says Rowe.

Shortly after, he landed a re­cur­ring role on the NBC series The Firm and has since worked on other pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing roles on The Strain, The Ex­panse and Dark Mat­ter. Apart from his on­screen ap­pear­ances, Rowe cites his stage work as a huge teacher for him.

“You’re re­peat­ing the same words over and over, so you need to find ways to keep it fresh and find ways to con­stantly keep the au­di­ence en­gaged,” he ex­plains. “With film and tele­vi­sion, you get a lot of takes, but with theatre it’s in the mo­ment, and you need to be on your game or peo­ple will know.”

Act­ing can of­ten be a frus­trat­ing pro­fes­sion, so Rowe reads em­pow­er­ing books, med­i­tates and fo­cuses on per­sonal growth.

“I try to stay away from the noise and just hone my craft and do good work. Ev­ery­one’s jour­ney is to­tally dif­fer­ent, so you have to just fo­cus on your­self,” he says.

Rowe has some ex­cit­ing things in the pipe­line, but he’s not able to share de­tails just yet.

“I’m al­ways try­ing to do bet­ter than I did be­fore.… I just want to con­tinue to cre­ate and pro­duce good work and work with good peo­ple who can help my ca­reer grow,” he says.

Rowe shot ‘Black Cop’ in Nova Sco­tia over 12 days

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