Producing your dreams
Sandy Duarte on creating acting roles based on her own vision
With a Dora Award and countless acting and producing credits under her belt, it would seem that Sandy Duarte has been acting since the beginning.
But Duarte says she was late to the party, first going into fashion design to fuel her need for creative expression.
“Ever since I was a kid, I loved creative things — dancing in the room, performing, fashion,” she says.
In her years at Bloor Collegiate Institute, Duarte says she had many opportunities to express herself creatively.
“It was a really good place because it encouraged you to open your mind, and that openness made me want to create stuff.”
But after years in the fashion business, Duarte started feeling the opportunities for external expression there weren’t enough for her. It was then that acting appeared on the radar for her.
Duarte began taking night classes at Sears & Switzer while still working her fashion job, and within the year, Duarte says she made plans to leave her job and jump right into acting.
“I knew there was something moving me and shaking me and scaring me so much. I found my place there, my true passion,” she says.
Duarte says she began to market herself with honesty and integrity.
“I learned very quickly to do that, to love your art but to also remember that it’s a business and you have to put down the stepping stones to do as much groundwork as possible.”
That groundwork landed her a Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance in Blood written by Tom Walmsley, which Duarte also produced.
“I want to create stuff from my heart, but I can’t just wait for someone to give it to me,” Duarte says. She says producing gave her the opportunity to create based on her own vision.
Duarte’s current vision is Ruby’s Arms, a play written and directed by Barry Papick that Duarte will be producing and acting in. She says she took a couple weeks to get around to reading the script once Papick gave it to her, but once she did, she was hooked.
“I wrote him and asked him, ‘What the hell do you want to do with this?’ because it was amazing,” she says.
The story is told through monologues that come together with some dialogue between the characters, about a musician who embarks to L.A. to pursue his dreams.
Duarte feels especially proud of the team supporting this project, one that includes Efren Ramirez of Napoleon Dynamite fame, Eileen Dietz from The Exorcist and Emmy Award winner Jeff LaBeau.
“The way I feel about Ruby’s Arms, I look at it like when you’re curating a gallery in a museum. You have to curate it with integrity for each role. When you have the right team slowly growing, it’s easier to bring on more people.”
I knew there was something moving me and shaking me.”
Duarte produces and acts in her upcoming play ‘Ruby’s Arms’ .