A flying extra-terrestrial, a werewolf and a lizard princess are just a few of the memorable roles played by Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort over the years. She sometimes plays humans, too! But the talented actress (Supergirl, Smallville, Bitten) says long hours in the makeup chair and sweltering costumes have made for an invigorating career. We caught up with her to talk shop and hear about how she got her start.
What’s it like to be a high-profile woman in a genre that has been dominated by men?
I think that the idea of sci-fi being a male-dominated genre has shifted. We see so many women at the forefront in both sci-fi and action projects. Not only do we have women leading the way in huge Marvel blockbusters but we also have TV series with women dominating our screens, in what was once considered to be male roles.
Tell us about some of the great characters you’ve played.
I have been lucky to play some memorable characters such as the first Supergirl on television for four years on Smallville, Elena—the only living female werewolf—on Bitten for four years and a lizard princess on the ABC series V. It all sounds rather hilarious, but they were all a joy to play and seem to have left great impressions on the fans. (Side Note: I have played humans too!)
On Smallville, I was nervous to join a cast that had already been a family for seven years. The cast was great! Tom (Welling) often pulled pranks on me. We had many scenes in the Kent farm loft and in one particular scene, I was teaching Superman to fly out the barn doors and my character had to nudge him closer to the edge. Little did I know that Tom (Superman) had placed a safety pad down below. When I went to nudge him, he pretended to trip and fall out the barn door!! I thought, well that’s it, I’ve killed Superman! I was definitely going to be fired! I looked down and Tom was laughing so hard down below sprawled out on a safety pad.
Were there obstacles you faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?
An obstacle I think every actor faces is self-doubt. My personal goal has been (and always will be), to find roles that break any stereotype or ideas people may have of me. That has been a definite obstacle in my career; pushing to audition for roles that I’m typically not right for. I prefer to choose roles that have grit and female empowerment and show women in a real light, as human beings, not objects. I haven’t always succeeded with this, but it’s a process.
What made you want to become an actress?
I’m told I was always making people laugh as a toddler. My Dad tells a story about how I would walk around the kitchen table while the family was eating or we had company over. I would stop at each person’s chair, look up at them smiling and try to make them smile back or laugh. I would then move onto the next person. I put on plays with my cousin for our family as a kid. I wrote a lot of poetry (moody poetry, haha). After seeing the movie My Girl (which my Aunt Karen gave me, I am forever grateful), I was so curious and smitten with the young actress, Anna Chlumsky, who was my age at the time. I’d never seen a young girl on my television screen with such raw emotion. I became intrigued with this idea of acting to get a response from the audience. To bring up emotions in other people, strangers, through performing. I was definitely introverted (even more so now) but needed an outlet for my emotions. Being ‘someone else’ seemed like a great way to do just that.
In your personal life, how you carve out time to exercise?
Working out has always been a part of my life. I did martial arts as a kid and teen, and soccer and basketball, too. Exercise helps me maintain mental balance. I have been spinning since I was 16 years old and I love it! Pilates has been great for strength training and hot yoga helps me centre myself. Of course, there are times I am unable to maintain this balance while working, however you do your best.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects.
My upcoming projects include the new Netflix series V-Wars starring Ian Somerhalder and Adrian Holmes, which is coming out this year. I’m also in a feature film called Rabid, which will be released in theatres. I am currently developing and producing projects that inspire me; stories I want to tell, in all genres. It takes years to get anything off the ground, however just being able to create content has been a great journey and learning experience for me.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed.
Creative Director: Lindsay Anne Delaney
Photographer: Lindsay Anne Delaney
Hair & Makeup: Joanne Parks
Photography Assistant:Alicia Churilla
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