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Big dreams, Big Apple for Peace River actress

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://www.prrecordgazette.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1764291 Big dreams, Big Apple for Peace River actress Updated 6 days ago By Michelle Higgins Tanis
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2009

      Big dreams, Big Apple for Peace River actress
      Updated 6 days ago

      By Michelle Higgins

      Tanis Parenteau spends her days working at a theatre company and attending
      class at the New School for Drama in New York City. Her resume lists
      appearances in independent feature films, short films, music videos,
      commercials, print ads and TV shows, including The Twilight Zone and Hank
      William’s First Nation. This summer, she made her off-Broadway debut in the
      comedy Bigger Toys for Bigger Boys at the Sage Theatre in New York.

      It’s a far cry from her days growing up in Peace River. The brown-eyed
      beauty took part in a Peace Players production of The Sound of Music when
      she was eight years old, but back then she was more interested in figure
      skating, volleyball and track-and-field. The acting bug didn’t bite until
      she was pursuing her undergraduate degree in physical education at the
      University of Alberta, where she took a drama class to fulfill an
      outside-faculty requirement.

      “When I took this drama class, something happened that was different,”
      recalled Parenteau, 32. “It awakened this energy, and I discovered I have a
      passion for something. So I finished my degree and I got an agent right away
      and I started taking on camera acting classes.”

      After moving to Vancouver, Parenteau spent six years in an on-off
      relationship with her newfound love, working as a waitress when she wasn’t
      acting or modeling.

      “I was getting work and then not getting work, losing focus a bit and then
      getting back into it,” she said. “Finally I just researched a couple schools
      and auditioned and got into the one in New York, and I couldn’t say no.”

      Parenteau is now in her second year of the three-year MFA program at the New
      School for Drama, where she trains in acting, voice and movement, and
      networks with people in the film and theatre industries.

      She said there are far more acting opportunities available in New York than
      in Vancouver.

      “I don’t even feel like I had a summer. I would just audition once a day and
      be booking something once a week,” Parenteau said.

      “Her world is expanding,” said Parenteau’s first-year acting teacher Kathryn
      Rossetter. “People in New York are starting to know her. ... And she’ll get
      a lot more notoriety this year because they’re doing a lot of outside

      Rossetter added Parenteau stands out because of her striking stage presence.
      “There can be three or four people on stage, and your eye just kind of goes
      to her,” she said. “That’s something you can’t teach. You either have it or
      you don’t.”

      Parenteau’s Aboriginal heritage also helps distinguish her from other

      “There’s been quite a trend in the past few years for Native Americans in
      film,” said Parenteau, who is Métis on her father’s side. “It’s still pretty
      stereotypical, which is unfortunate, but it’s definitely changing and there
      are better opportunities now.

      “I’m discovering it’s more and more prevalent for Native Americans (to be)
      trying to change the general perspective of our culture and who are and what
      we do,” she added.

      “We are in the entertainment industry and we have talent and we are

      Looking to the future, Parenteau said she’d like to stay in New York after
      she graduates in 2011, but “I think L.A. might be calling my name in a few

      Whether she’ll focus on theatre or film is undecided, but Rossetter said she
      has the range to do both.

      “It’s sort of like a blank page. She’ll be able to do whatever she’s willing
      to work for,” Rossetter said.

      One thing is for certain: there is no Plan B.

      “I know there’s no other option,” Parenteau said of continuing her career in
      acting. “I can’t not do it.”

      To find out more about Tanis Parenteau, visit her website at
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