Seneca College RED 2019 - 27

Authentic representation

PHOTO: JOANNE RATAJCZAK

Isabel Kanaan's point of view

"EVEN WHEN I WAS A KID, I remembered thinking that I
liked how I could move people through acting," says
actor and comedian Isabel Kanaan.
A graduate of the Acting for Camera & Voice program in 2014, her journey as an artist started early. She
was already performing in live theatrical productions
in the Philippines at 10 years old.
"I caught the acting bug from people's reactions,"
she adds.
However, Kanaan's path towards becoming a thespian took a detour in 2008 when she was 17 years old and
her family immigrated to Canada.
The process of acclimating to a new country resulted in Kanaan feeling the effects of culture shock for her
first few years in Canada.
"I was lost, I didn't know what I wanted to do. In
the Philippines, I knew I wanted to perform. But I
didn't think I had that option in Canada because there
were no Asians on TV or in the movies," she reflects.
"The lack of representation made me feel like I would
never become an actress in Canada."
She enrolled at York University but left without

completing her studies. Despite growing more mature
from the setback, she was still feeling unfulfilled
because she wasn't pursuing her passion.
Kanaan looked to comedy - a Philippine cultural
staple - to help recalibrate her inner compass and then
applied to Seneca in 2012 based on word of mouth.
"Comedy taught me point of view (POV). It taught
me how to craft characters and stories that are authentic to who I am," Kanaan explains.
Kanaan would find her POV through comedy as a
visible minority, an immigrant and a woman who identifies as queer, and it was through Seneca where she
gained relevant industry knowledge, skills and
connections as an aspiring actor.
"Prior to taking the program, I didn't know how to
act for the camera. I never learned about video-editing
or the nuances of auditioning, nor had I ever been to
a dialect class," recalls Kanaan. "Further, my professors
have been helpful to me from day one, and I still meet
with some of them periodically. The program really
exceeded all of my great expectations."
Success has followed: she was awarded the prestigious NBC Bob Curry Fellowship by The Second City
and became a member of CBC's esteemed sketch comedy troupe Air Farce in 2017, Kanaan was also nominated for College Ontario's Premier's Awards in 2018.
However, she wants to achieve more.
Striving to address the lingering representation
problem that she first observed in North American
media 10 years ago, she has been hard at work channelling her POV into her acting career while growing
Tita Collective, a singing, dancing, #TitaJokes-telling
ensemble made up of a five like-minded Filipinas.

The lack of
representation
made me feel
like I would
never become
an actress in
Canada.

RED

2019

27



Seneca College RED 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seneca College RED 2019

Table of Contents
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