Next Gen Canada: 15 Hottest Talents Under 35
Rising stars from north of the border discuss making their mark at home and in Hollywood (and how they did it before reaching the ripe old age of 35)
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Both in front of and behind the camera, these 15 Canadian up-and-comers have drawn audiences and industry admirers as they help their home country navigate a fast-changing global entertainment business. You'll find profiles on the country's proudest 35-and-under industry professionals and talent below, including the credits and achievements likely to make them Canada's future entertainment leaders.
DAVID CORMICAN, 32 (producer)
BIG BREAK: Working and partnering with [producer] Don Carmody. He's done everything from Porky's to Good Will Hunting. He took a flyer on me and has allowed me to punch way above my weight class.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: Dreaming I might be where I am now at age 45.
WHEN I'M NOT WORKING, I'M: Dreaming of sleep. Or wait … maybe that's what some people call sleep.
NOEL FISHER, 30 (actor)
Fisher earned attention as Vladimir in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 and currently can be seen as Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
BIG BREAK: Huff, a Showtime series. That started to really open up doors in L.A.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I'm going to finish my very first script this year. Writing is a new venture for me and has been one of the hardest and most fulfilling things I've ever done. I love it.
I WAKE UP AT: 9 if I'm not working. If I am, 5 or 6.
THE FIRST THING I DO IN THE MORNING IS: Get caffeinated and meditate. One unhealthy choice followed directly by a healthy one.
LAUREN GRANT, 32 (producer)
A principal at Clique Pictures, Grant co-produced Wet Bum from writer/director Lindsay MacKay, which will bow at the Toronto film fest.
MENTOR: Sharon McGowan, my University of British Columbia professor, who has always supported my career and helped get me my first job.
BEST ADVICE: From Lynda Obst's book Hello, He Lied: "It is just as important to move on in the wake of stunning success as it is in the wake of disaster."
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Finishing Wet Bum. It is the hardest film I've ever made, and I'm really looking forward to sharing it at the Toronto Film Festival.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: Backpacking through Europe, wondering if I would ever be able to break into this business.
CODY HACKMAN, 27 (actor-producer)
MENTOR: It's got to be Tom Cruise. He grew up in Canada. He's my industry mentor because he's a real workhorse, and the love of his craft is evident.
BIG BREAK: I met my friend Tom DeSanto (X-Men) in L.A. years ago. Our conversation inspired me. Talking to him motivated me to go home and make Tapped Out, which I produced and starred in.
CAN'T-MISS TV: I really enjoyed the first season of True Detective. I can't wait for the next one.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: Sleeping on my buddy's couch in L.A. Today, if I sleep on someone's couch, it's by choice, not necessity.
SLATER JEWELL-KEMKER, 22 (director)
Jewell-Kemker recently completed her feature documentary An Inconvenient Youth, about the rise of the global youth climate-change movement.
MENTOR: My friend Joshua Astrachan, producer of Short Term 12, whom I met while attending the Canadian Film Center. He reminds me that filmmaking, while a business, is most definitely an outpouring of love, passion and friendship between otherwise neurotic individuals making something beautiful and worthy of being human.
BEST ADVICE: Hold fast to your intuition, as it's the most honest and true way to create work you actually like.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Harvesting warm honey from my honeybees. There's no taste quite like it.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: 12 years old, busking with my violin in the streets of Kosice, Slovakia, and mistaken for a Roma child.
ALI LIEBERT, 33 (actor)
Liebert made a name for herself playing Betty McRae on ReelzChannel's Bomb Girls.
MENTOR: Canadian director and acting coach Andrew McIlroy. He is a genius. I want to eat his brain.
BIG BREAK: Getting cast as tough-talking Betty. Playing her was a gift because she could out-talk, out-swagger and out-swing anyone.
CAN'T-MISS TV: Orange Is the New Black. Shows about women by women are finally happening -- and it's about time.
WHEN I'M NOT WORKING, I'M: A "scooch antsy" -- Canadian for "impossible to be around."
ALEXANDER LUDWIG, 22 (actor)
Ludwig gained attention as Cato in The Hunger Games. His other work includes When the Game Stands Tall opposite Laura Dern and the upcoming The Final Girls with Nina Dobrev.
MENTOR: My mother. Even before I could drive, she took me to every audition.
BEST ADVICE: The biggest risk in life is doing something you don't love in the hopes that one day it will give you the freedom to do what you do love.
BIG BREAK: The Hunger Games set a spectacular foundation on which I began to establish a career.
CAN'T-MISS TV: House of Cards. No question about it.
BILL LUNDY, 30 (development exec)
As manager of original programming at Bell Media, Lundy oversees development on shows such as the CTV comedy Spun Out and The Comedy Network's Just for Laughs: All Access.
MENTOR: All my peers at Bell Media. They're at the forefront of the coolest era in Canadian television history.
BIG BREAK: Joining The Comedy Network in 2008. There aren't many gigs with "comedy" in the job title.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Launching our new homegrown sitcom, Spun Out, on CTV.
CAN'T-MISS TV: @midnight is just so fresh, innovative and consistently funny.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: At Ryerson University in Toronto studying radio and television arts. May or may not have been wearing a Livestrong bracelet.
SHAY MITCHELL, 27 (actor)
Mitchell hit it big playing Emily Fields on Pretty Little Liars after getting her start in Degrassi: The Next Generation.
MENTOR: Angelina Jolie. She's always stayed true to who she is and shed a positive light on important things around the world.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Traveling in Africa and working with Free The Children.
CAN'T-MISS TV: I'm bingeing on Scandal, recently finished Orange Is the New Black and can't wait for the new season of House of Cards.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: Working as a hostess at the Cactus Club in Vancouver.
MARK MONTEFIORE, 33 (producer)
A co-president of indie producer New Metric Media, Montefiore produced Cas & Dylan, starring Tatiana Maslany.
BIG BREAK: Comedy Network sketch series Hotbox. [I learned] that producing sketch comedy is not as easy at it looks.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: Just graduating and volunteering as craft services/PA, while writing and producing my own short films.
I WAKE UP AT: 6ish.
THE FIRST THING I DO IN THE MORNING IS: Regret waking up at 6ish.
JASON MORING, 34 (sales agent)
Moring is founder and president of Double Dutch International, the Toronto-based film sales firm that is currently developing and financing Robert Sigl's The Spider and Nancy Savoca's Secret Magdalene.
BIG BREAK: In 2010, I had the opportunity to start up Double Dutch. Owning my own business has allowed me to create and enjoy success on many levels.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The realization that we are now in the position to work with who we want, not who we have to.
CAN'T-MISS TV: Not sure what series to dive into after Breaking Bad.
WHEN I'M NOT WORKING, I'M: I'm always working. And if not, I'd rather be golfing!
MEGAN PARK, 28 (actor)
Park played Grace on ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager and co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe in the film What If.
MENTOR: My What If co-star Zoe Kazan. I'm blown away by her work as an actress and a writer and how she's grabbed the reins of her career.
CAN'T-MISS TV: Girls. Every episode feels like Lena Dunham has read my diary and is making a delicious 30-minute piece of art for my own personal enjoyment.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: In high school in Canada, wishing I was acting. Ten years later I'm doing it, but playing high school characters onscreen.
KATIE SIMPSON, 30 (reporter)
The senior correspondent for CTV National News became a media darling after reacting to a foulmouthed Mayor Rob Ford during a live press conference.
BIG BREAK: September 2011. After years of lobbying to move from behind- the-scenes to on-camera, management gave me a shot as a full-time reporter.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: Moving from local news to a full-time position with CTV National News. I still can't believe I work for the network.
10 YEARS AGO, I WAS: In university, making $10 an hour to anchor the news at the local radio station in Ontario.
GREGORY SMITH, 31 (actor-director)
Smith first gained attention on the WB's Everwood, followed by ABC's Rookie Blue, on which he also made his directing debut.
BIG BREAK: Getting cast to play Ephram Brown in Everwood. I learned so much on that show, and everything in my life traces back to that experience.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: I have a lot of pride in Rookie Blue and everything we've accomplished as a team over the last five years.
THE FIRST THING I DO IN THE MORNING IS: Cry. Just kidding. Drink coffee, get my news fix and look over the day's work.
LAURA VANDERVOORT, 29 (actor)
Vandervoort is the lead female werewolf on Syfy's Bitten and starred as Kara/Supergirl in Smallville.
BIG BREAK: Smallville. It was my first real internationally visible role. I self-taped [my audition] in Toronto. I would have never expected my tape to be seen. Such an educational experience.
BIGGEST 2014 ACCOMPLISHMENT: The first was signing on to play Elena in Bitten, and second is, I was lucky enough to have a children's book I wrote grow into a live-action children's series, Super Duper Deelia.
CAN'T-MISS TV: I'm a little late to the party, but just started Breaking Bad. Such an amazing series.
I WAKE UP AT: Depends on the week and whether I'm working. I'm definitely a morning person -- but don't talk to me until after a cup of coffee.