Class of 2015 (expected) – Innis, CSI
Third year Innis and Cinema Studies student, Samii Folliott, is not only an active member within the Innis community, but she is also pursuing her passion of acting. Her most notable role was as Hannah, Wesley’s crush in the hugely popular Canadian television hit, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Degrassi creator, Linda Schuyler, is one of Innis’ most notable alumni and friends. We caught up with her to find out how she manages to balance all of her responsibilities.
What are you currently studying?
I am in my third year at Innis and absolutely loving it. I am currently a Cinema Studies major, with minors in Sociology and Gender Studies.
Why did you select Innis College? Did having a notable alumnus, such as Linda Schuyler, influence your decision?
When making my decision as to where to go to university, I knew I needed to stay in Toronto if I wanted to continue acting. I decided that Innis College at U of T was the right choice because I wanted to be around people who loved the film industry as much as I do. When researching Innis, I found out about the talented alumni we have and that was a definite good sign of what was to come. Knowing that Linda Schuyler had gone to Innis College reassured me it was a reputable program and was extra motivation to apply to Innis.
How did you first get involved in acting and what was your first role?
As a kid I was always super involved in performing, whether it be dancing, singing or theatre. At age 10, I was contacted after a musical theatre performance by an agency and my career started then. I began mostly in commercials (Zellers, ING etc.,) but my first acting role was a lead role in a Humber College film where I played a little girl who finds a mouse in the woods and befriends it. She was quite an odd character but really fun to play.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role on Degrassi?
I first auditioned for a role that didn’t have a name and only a couple lines in one episode. The day after I shot that scene, they called me and told me they wanted to bring me back and play a girl named Hannah who was a love interest of one of the lead characters. Hannah was sweet, innocent and definitely nerdy. Most of her scenes had to do with science experiments, which was definitely new to me! Hannah was a really fun character to play because she was brought an innocent and comedic side to the show. Hannah and Wesley had the cutest little young love relationship that I still look back at and smile.
How have you become involved within the Innis College community?
During my 3 years at Innis I have been really involved in the Innis College community. I have been a frosh leader, captain of the intramural volleyball team and a member of the Innis College Student Society. In my second year, I was voted into the ICSS as an Athletic Director and continued my role this year as well. Being a part of student council has enabled me to meet lots of people, participate and plan amazing events, and have a lot of fun. I hope to be on council again and continue my involvement in my final year.
Are you currently pursuing other acting opportunities? How difficult is it to balance acting with your academics and other extra-curricular activities?
I am still pursuing the acting business and I audition in Toronto as much as possible! It is really difficult to balance acting, academics and extra-curricula’s as sometimes I have an audition with many pages of lines to learn the same day as a test. However, I try to use the possibility of an audition as incentive to get my work done early- just in case! There are times where I have to decide what to focus on more, between acting and school, but as long as you have your priorities in check it is typically fine.
What advice do you have for actors who are looking to also pursue academic interests?
As I said above, an important quality for anyone to have is to be well-rounded. As an actor I think it is really important to not only know how to be in front of the camera but also what goes on behind it. My advice for actors is to definitely invest in academics to make sure you fully understand what goes on behind the scenes and why. Cinema Studies has taught me a lot about cinema, the history of film and theories pertaining to it and I have also learnt a lot about myself.
What are your future aspirations? Can you see yourself pursuing other aspects of the entertainment industry?
One thing I’ve learned at Innis College is that I love many different aspects of the entertainment industry. Right now my first priority is acting, but I can definitely see myself working in film production in the future. Working in film as an actor full-time is difficult to achieve, but I really hope I can work hard enough to make my way in and never leave. I have always known I want to work in film, I’m just not sure if it is in front of the camera or behind it.