Before TIFF Kicks Off, Meet Canada's Rising Stars

Fifteen young up-and-comers (from Robbie Amell to Sara Canning) from the industry's feeding ground up north talk about making their mark at home and in Hollywood.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

REBECCA ADDELMAN
Title: Writer
Age: 34

After hitting it big as a contributing staff writer for Fox's New Girl, Addelman is currently working on her directorial feature debut, Paper Year.

Mentors: I'd be nowhere without Kay Cannon, Brad Neely and Dave Feeney.

Best advice: "Stop talking so much and listen."

Big break: Getting the staff-writing job at New Girl. Working in the network TV system taught me about collaboration, patience — and the necessity of rewriting.

10 years ago, I was: Biking around Toronto doing live comedy in the back rooms of bars, getting paid in beer.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Yoga and/ or coffee.

ROBBIE AMELL
Title: Actor
Age: 27

After big roles in The DUFF and The Tomorrow People Amell will be starring as Agent Miller in Fox's The X-Files revival and Nine Lives (alongside Jennifer Garner and Kevin Spacey).

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: Getting back on the big screen.

Can't-miss TV: Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot.

I wake up at: 9ish. If I had a good night, 12.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Pee. Then make a protein shake.

SANDIE BENITAH
Title: Producer
Age: 34

A producer with Canadian news channel's CP24.com, Benitah recently won a mentorship with Journalists for Human Rights.

Big break: When CP24's Twitter following surpassed that of all other Canadian news organizations. People started noticing how important digital news had become.

When I'm not working, I'm: Decorating cakes; I find it to be oddly therapeutic.

Best advice: From my dad: "You're never too young to stand up for yourself."

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: Being selected by CTV and Journalists for Human Rights to travel to the First Nation's community of Sandy Lake in northern Ontario as part of their joint mentorship program. I was so happy, I cried.

Can't-miss TV: The Bachelor. Don't judge me.

SARA CANNING
Title: Actor
Age: 28

Best known for her co-starring role as Jenna Sommers on The CW's The Vampire Diaries, Canning has been on the show since it began in 2009.

Best advice: "You are enough. But don't forget that every character you play must have a life comprised of a million photographs."

Big break: When I got the role of Jenna on the pilot episode of The Vampire Diaries, I had no idea what a pilot was, really, or what was to come. It was a quick, wild, fun learning curve.

Mentor: Andrew McIlroy is my acting sage.

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: I recently won the Leo Award for best actress in a dramatic series for Remedy, a series I'm incredibly proud of.

Can't-miss TV: My most recent binge-watches were Schitt's Creek and Masters of Sex.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Eat. I always wake up ravenous.

TORRANCE COOMBS
Title: Actor
Age: 32

Coombs, who plays Sebastian Valuar on The CW's period drama Reign, will star in 2016's The Last Heist with Henry Rollins and Victoria Pratt.

Mentor: Sally Stubbs, my high school drama teacher, really gave me a passion for acting.

Big break: Getting cast in a five-episode arc on The Tudors as a relative unknown. That role stretched me like nothing had before and blew my world wide open.

Biggest 2015 accomplishments: I managed to get engaged, buy a home, move and do a movie in the two-month span between seasons of Reign.

I wake up at: The point at which my hunger outweighs my laziness. Or about an hour before my call time.

HARRISON HOUDE
Title: Actor-Musician
Age: 19

A YouTuber, musician and actor, Houde plays Bowie Sherman on the YTV comedy Some Assembly Required.

Big break: Diary of a Wimpy Kid; it was my first line onscreen and my first acting role. For it to be a worldwide feature film was so cool.

10 years ago, I was: Just 9 — I can't remember what I was doing, but I think it had to do with wanting to be a pro MLB player and a lawyer.

Can't-miss TV: Breaking Bad, the best show of all time. But I've seen that entire show. Now it's Sense8 and BoJack Horseman.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Check my phone — I am a social media addict.

CONNOR JESSUP
Title: Actor
Age: 21

After gaining attention as Ben Mason on TNT's sci-fi series Falling Skies (executive produced by Steven Spielberg), Jessup will attend the Toronto Film Festival with his short film Boy and help launch Stephen Dunn's Closet Monster, in which he plays an aspiring movie makeup artist.

Mentor: My good friend Albert Shin. He made a little movie called In Her Place that was absolutely one of last year's best. His talent is overwhelming.

Best advice: Straight out of The Lion King: "Be prepared."

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: Having my short film Boy accepted into my home festival.

Can't-miss TV: Game of Thrones is the only show I'm actually caught up on. My best friend and I binge together.

JESSICA PARKER KENNEDY
Title: Actor
Age: 30

Kennedy, known for her role as Max on Starz's drama Black Sails, also has had starring turns in the films 50/50 and In Time.

Big break: I feel like I'm still waiting for that, but The Secret Circle opened a pretty big door in a mainstream way.

Mentor: My mom. I go to her for all the hefty decisions.

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: Got over heartbreak.

Can't-miss TV: About a Boy. I like this show for so many reasons.

DANIEL LEVY
Title: Actor
Age: 32

Levy burst on the scene for creating and starring in the CBC and Pop TV sitcom Schitt's Creek alongside his father, Eugene.

Best advice: Professionalism is paramount.

10 years ago, I was: In my first year as a VJ on MTV Live, fresh out of the video store.

When I'm not working, I'm: Working.

Mentor: My dad.

TARA LONG
Title: Programming Exec
Age: 31

Recently promoted to executive vp U.S. alternative programming at Canadian indie producer Entertainment One, the L.A.-based Long is an executive producer on four shows.

Big break: Meeting [eOne Television CEO] John Morayniss at the Banff World Media Festival. He believed in me and gave me the opportunity to launch eOne's U.S. alternative programming division in 2012.

10 years ago, I was: In Nashville on a golf scholarship at Belmont University. I was playing lots of golf!

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: Having more than 10 different series in production for eOne, including the fifth season of Mary Mary and Nellyville, which had a 21-episode first season.

I wake up at: I don't have a normal sleep schedule because I travel a lot … gotta love the 5 a.m. wake-up calls!

SHAWN MENDES
Title: Musician
Age: 17

Discovered and signed by Island Records after posting covers on Vine, Mendes has just released an album, Handwritten, and is busy touring with Taylor Swift.

Mentor: Ed Sheeran

Big break: My first Vine really set things in motion.

10 years ago, I was: 7 years old and not singing yet.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Work out!

LAURA NOTARIANNI
Title: Programming Exec
Age: 27

As director of scripted programming at Temple Street Productions, Notarianni develops new writers and TV series for Canadian and U.S. broadcasters.

Big break: Being Aaron Martin's and Jana Sinyor's assistant in season one of the Being Erica writers room while still in college.

10 years ago, I was: At Warped Tour. Dealing with the loss of my mom to the big C. And cutting my first short on 8mm that, looking back, is probably a reflection of those experiences.

Can't-miss TV: Shameless. Louie. The Americans.

I wake up at: Multiple times throughout the night and wonder if it's morning yet.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Read my horoscope and text my old man.

JUAN RIEDINGER
Title: Actor/Director
Age: 34

Riedinger landed two big roles in 2015: Carlos Lehder on Narcos for Netflix and Rufus on the CBC drama The Romeo Section.

10 years ago, I was: Graduating from the University of Calgary with degrees in biology and English and with no idea that I'd never make direct use of either of them.

Can't-miss TV: Don't watch a lot of it, honestly, but Breaking Bad changed the game for me. As far as guilty pleasures go, I can get pretty into Survivor. But don't tell anyone.

I wake up at: 7:30 a.m. sharp with no alarm, without fail. My body has somehow decided that's my time to take on the day.

LAURA SCARFO
Title: Producer
Age: 35

Scarfo is supervising producer on CTV's afternoon talker The Social, which has topped 200 episodes since its 2013 launch.

Big break: Producing CTV's live Oscar red-carpet show for the first time in 2009 — it was one of the most intense learning experiences I've ever had.

10 years ago, I was: Sitting across from David Cronenberg, interviewing him for his latest film at Toronto. I was completely intimidated!

Biggest 2015 accomplishment: The Social, the series I helped launch in fall 2013, saw a 38 percent increase in its second-season viewership and is now testing in several U.S. markets.

Can't-miss TV: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. Comedy plus information equals genius!

I wake up at: 6:30 a.m. Then I press the snooze button.

NATASHA WILSON
Title: Actor
Age: 32

Known for roles in Jane Post and Sweet Destiny, Wilson plays Maya on the new Lifetime dating show satire UnREAL.

Mentor: My sixth grade bearded and full body tattooed elementary school teacher, Mr. Gower.

Big break: When Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro hired me to play Maya on UnREAL.

Best advice: "Take advantage of being taken advantage of."

10 years ago, I was: Trying not to get lost on the 405 in my broken-down, air-conditioned-less Chevy.

The first thing I do in the morning is: Decide on my theme song for the day.

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