Young Peninsula-based stars of tomorrow were in the spotlight as winners at this year’s Joey Awards, recognizing young talents in film and television from across Canada.
A total of seven young actors – all students at White Rock acting studio The Drama Class – picked up 11 awards between them at the gala event, held last Saturday at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel and Conference Centre.
Viva Lee was recognized with the most promising performer award, as well as getting the nod for best supporting or principal actress in the eight- to nine-year-old age in a student- or youth-made short film for her work in To Keep Her Safe.
Emma Oliver, who was winner of the awards’ best monologue contest, also picked up the award for best actress in the four- to six-year-old range in a television or movie featured role for her appearance in The X Files.
Dominic Mariche was named best actor in a television or movie featured role in the four- to nine-year-old age group for The Crossing; while Ava Sleeth was named best supporting or principal actress in a short film in the 10- to 12-year-old age group, for A Family For The Holidays.
Both Mariche and Sleeth also received awards as part of the best ensemble in a television commercial, recognizing their work on the Got Milk series of commercials.
Luke Roessler, who is currently located in Los Angeles while appearing in a recurring role in the series Dead City, flew back to Vancouver for the awards, in which he received honours for best actor in a movie-of-the-week or video feature for Miss Christmas.
Kayleigh Sullivan was chosen best actress in a commercial in the nine year-old age group for a Toys R Us campaign, while Isabella Sleeth (older sister of Ava), took best actress in a commercial in the 12- to 17-year-old age group for Napoleon Grill.
“Isabella is the eldest, at 12 or 13, while all the rest are in the 10-and-under age-range,” said Drama Class founder and principal instructor Michele Partridge. “I’m so proud of them. These kids are so talented and their energy is contagious.”
Asked if there was a common element characterizing all of the studio’s winners, Partridge said it was “commitment.”
“These kids are entirely committed to their craft,” she said. “They take it very seriously and do the work that is needed.”
All of the young actors love their work, and are doing it because they want to do it, Partridge noted, adding that they have demonstrated their ability to stay focused through all the more tedious aspects of film and television production.
“I work on that a lot with them. I encourage them to use their imaginations and just ‘go for it,’ but they still have to do the work of memorizing their lines and understanding their characters.”