First role for ac­tress any­thing but bunk

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Brad Oswald

THEY say there are no sure things in show busi­ness, but this feels a lot like it was sim­ply meant to be.

Leigh Tru­ant au­di­tioned for, and landed, her first big TV-act­ing gig ear­lier this year, but the 18-year-old Win­nipeg­ger’s part in the fam­i­lyfriendly Dis­ney XD movie Bunks is a role for which she’s been pre­par­ing pretty much her whole life.

“It’s fair to say that this is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Tru­ant said this week from Toronto, where she’s en­rolled in Ryerson Univer­sity’s per­for­mance act­ing pro­gram. “It’s def­i­nitely be­cause of my brothers — when I was lit­tle, they were al­ways film­ing with the video cam­era, mak­ing movies with their friends. I would al­ways ask them, ‘Hey, can I be part of your movie?’ and they would al­ways re­ply, ‘No, you’re our lit­tle sis­ter; you’re not cool.’

“So when they weren’t look­ing, I picked up the video cam­era and tried to fig­ure out how to work it. My dad showed me how to press record and standby, and I started mak­ing my own movies with my friends.

“We kept mak­ing them, and we got bet­ter and bet­ter at it. By Grade 8 or 9, I was re­ally into it as a hobby, and I en­rolled in ev­ery the­atre pro­duc­tion and ev­ery film project at school. Pretty soon, my par­ents be­gan to re­al­ize that this was more than just a hobby to me.”

Tru­ant, a prod­uct of Lin­den Woods who be­gan her for­mal film/the­atre train­ing while at­tend­ing Shaftes­bury High School, said her par­ents’ sup­port al­lowed her to at­tend act­ing classes in Van­cou­ver and, a cou­ple of sum­mers ago, to take part in a month-long workshop at the New York Film Academy in Los An­ge­les.

“That was very in­tense; it was def­i­nitely one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life,” Tru­ant re­called. “We ba­si­cally got up at 6 a.m. ev­ery morn­ing and went to school near the Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios lot. We did au­di­tion classes, scene-study classes, mono­logue classes — I had never stud­ied those things in so much depth be­fore. And on the week­ends, we would go to the Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios back­lot and shoot short films that we’d been plan­ning through­out the week. That was su­per-fun.

“I learned a lot; it was def­i­nitely lifechang­ing. I gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in a short time.”

Back home in Winnipeg, Tru­ant re­ceived a call from lo­cal cast­ing di­rec­tor Jim Heber, who rec­om­mended she au­di­tion for Bunks, which was sched­uled to be shot here and in Kenora last sum­mer. The light-hearted com­e­dy­hor­ror ad­ven­ture, which airs Sun­day on Dis­ney XD (check list­ings for time), fo­cuses on a pair of mis­chievous brothers (played by Dy­lan Sch­mid and Ai­dan Ship­ley) whose rule-break­ing an­tics un­leash a zom­bie-fren­zied at­tack on an idyl­lic sum­mer camp.

Soon af­ter her au­di­tion, Tru­ant got a call­back and learned she’d landed the role of Alice, the boy-crazy half of a pair of in­sep­a­ra­ble BFF camp coun­sel­lors who even­tu­ally fall vic­tim to the zom­bie invasion. Land­ing her first TV­movie role in a project filmed in her home­town made the ex­pe­ri­ence ex­tra spe­cial, she said.

“The first week, we were shut­tled off to Kenora, where we shot on an is­land. It was re­ally fun. I think it re­ally set in that shoot­ing-a-movie feel­ing for me be­cause we were away from home and on lo­ca­tion, liv­ing in a ho­tel and tak­ing a boat to work ev­ery morn­ing,” she said.

“And then be­ing in Winnipeg for the other three weeks was nice be­cause I got to go home and unwind, but then I’d still have that pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment to go to the next day.”

Tru­ant said her stud­ies at Ryerson are fo­cused mostly on the­atri­cal per­for­mance, but her sights re­main set on land­ing more TV and movie-act­ing work.

“Up un­til this point, all of my train­ing has been for film,” she said. “The rea­son I chose to do a the­atre-study pro­gram isn’t nec­es­sar­ily be­cause I want to fo­cus on the­atre; I want to know what it’s like to do the­atre, and I want to know what it’s like to do film. As an ac­tor, I just want to be as well rounded as pos­si­ble.”

Leigh Tru­ant

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