My daughter Ashleigh has had the pleasure of working with Terry and Carol Secord-Brandon in a film called Salvage which they filmed in March of 2017. My daughter’s Samantha and Melissa also worked with them as background on the movie Downsizing with Matt Damon.
I had the opportunity to chat with Terry and Carol about their acting career and asked them a few questions. Here are their answers and they are very interesting.
Q & A
1. As a child, did you want to be an actor, or did it fall into place through other activities?
Terry: I attended a very small 2 room public school and an equally small high school in a rural area of southern Ontario. The schools were a long walk from my home and I think it was uphill both ways! There were literally no opportunities to become involved in acting. Later in life, while I working as a Provincial Prosecutor in northern Ontario, Carol and I applied for principle roles in three commercials for a Resort and Spa. We were both cast and spent 3 days on set. Our next opportunity came when we applied for Background in a feature film that was being partially filmed in Timmins, Ontario. We both were on set on the film Two Lovers and a Bear starring Dane DeHaan. These two experiences started us chasing acting careers.
Carol: I loved dancing and was aspiring being a dancer in adulthood but geographically and financially it wasn’t an option. I did some singing and acting in school plays in primary school to entertain our parents and I enjoyed it tremendously.
2. Who inspired you to follow your dream to pursue acting?
Terry: I never really had anyone as a mentor. Like most people I enjoyed specific actors; Jack Nicholson was a favourite of mine. I also loved comedians like Red Skelton. I always had a hidden desire to be in front of the camera.
Carol: I have to give all the credit to my husband for making this happen. He encouraged me to act in a commercial up North and we had so much fun together that it made me more eager to participate in future gigs. We decided to move down south after retiring from our jobs to pursue our careers because there were many more opportunities here than up north.
3. What challenges have you faced in the entertainment industry? What has been your most rewarding experience?
Terry: Carol and I started acting later in life (late 50’s). We both retired from jobs with the Province of Ontario and moved from Timmins, to our 80 acre hobby farm in southern Ontario. Most of our work comes from Toronto or London / Hamilton areas. We didn’t have any contacts or knowledge of how to start so it was difficult to get noticed and become competitive being new to the industry and the area. For me, the rejection was hard to handle. I never throw my name in the hat without wanting to be successful. It took me awhile to be able to deal with not getting roles and no feedback. On more than one occasion I was ready to walk away from acting. I felt I wasn’t good enough or handsome enough. While reading some articles on auditions I came across this advice “You are enough”. These 3 words got me through the rejection dilemma and I started auditioning like I am enough. I started getting cast! My most rewarding experience to date. Hmmmm that’s a tough one. Being on set with Matt Damon was exciting. Working on The Shape of Water was a fantastic experience. I think my most satisfying casting was for a leading role in a 2 hour special for Destination America. I had 2 call backs following the initial audition. I was the successful candidate against all odds (I further explain while answering question 8).
Carol: Finding an appropriate agent has been a challenge. My most rewarding experience was to be cast in my first speaking role in a movie and I am anticipating more rewarding experiences to occur in my future. Memorizing scripts is a challenge for our ages but very rewarding when you finally learn them.
4. What is your favourite type of character to play?
Terry: I think the “bad guy” is easier to portray. I have a lead role in a feature film that should be showing in 2018. In this project I am a “bad guy” and I really enjoyed developing the character. I also have a soft spot for comedy. Both Carol and I are cast in a comedic web series (2018). We cant wait to get a feel for our characters and work with the cast and crew.
Carol: I don’t think I have a favorite character at this time. All the roles I have done so far have been different and all fun. I know I like nice people parts better than bad characters kind of like Halloween, I never wanted to be the witch and always preferred to be the princess! I guess I prefer to be loved rather than hated.
5. What market do you currently work in? Are there other areas you would like to work?
Terry: To date, Carol and I have experience in commercials, feature films, short films, TV, music videos and an upcoming web series. I am interested in getting cast for a TV series. I am also interested in hosting a show. I am fearless!
Carol: We do commercials, episodic films and movies as main roles and/or as extras. We have a comedy web series coming in August that we are looking forward to. I’m not particular with the type of work at this point because I am just starting and I would like to try a bit of everything before committing to a specialty.
6. What advice would you give to someone new trying to make it in the acting industry?
Terry: First and foremost know that “You are enough”. Do your best at each audition, but be yourself. The casting crew need to see who you are. You cannot be all things to all people, so don’t take rejection personally. Take courses and spend some time rubbing elbows with peers. Net working is extremely important.
Carol: Do your research for a reliable agent, be confident, hold your head up high, give them your best performance and move on to the next audition. The casting directors have someone particular in mind, this person may be matched to the main actor as a relative so they would be looking for particular features that you may not have. Give them your best performance and walk away. Sometimes you could end up getting a totally different part altogether because of your looks and/or performance.
7. Why did you decide to stop your corporate life to become an actor? What fuels your passion?
Terry: Carol and I are both retired so we didn’t walk away from corporate life; we just started a new one. Many of our friends thought we were crazy getting involved in acting so late in life. The general consensus was that we would never make it into acting; we have proven that if you are willing to put in the time and of course have some raw talent, you can do anything. I love being on set; being part of a living thing that comes together under the directors guidance. I love never knowing who I might be tomorrow!
Carol: I took an early retirement and we wanted the freedom of working at my own pace. Our motto is; ”if it’s not fun, we’re not doing it”. We have the liberty of choosing the roles best suited for ourselves and we mainly look for roles that include both of us. On occasion, we may try individual roles that really interest us and we work together by practicing lines and filming eco casting auditions. My passion is fueled by spending time with my husband, partner, best friend and love of my life working together as a team to fulfill our retired life careers.
8. What is something about you that most people would never guess?
Terry: This is a difficult question for me to answer. I was cast in a feature film in a principle role. Two days before I was on set, I visited a chiropractor to adjust my back. I had a fight scene and didn’t want to affect the reality by having to protect my back. My neck was also adjusted. Unfortunately, my carotid artery was torn causing a blood clot to lodge behind my right eye causing permanent blindness. Needless to say I was devastated. It was one of those times when you have to dig very deep into yourself to keep going. I attended the set two days later and completed my role and the fight scene. Both Carol and I were very concerned that the artery could start to bleed again leading to blindness in my left eye, a stroke or a heart attack. I gave 110% to the role and I am still here to talk about it! Intermixed with this role, I was at the same time auditioning for a lead role in a 2 hour TV special. I lost the sight in my right eye immediately following the first audition. I had two more call backs for the part. I was fearful that my blindness would show and I would be rejected. My right eye doesn’t look any different from it did when I could see out of it. I wasn’t going to give up and in the end I got the role. This is the first time I am sharing this very personal information. *Thank you for sharing this very private information with me, you are very brave*
Carol: I struggle with anxiety disorder. People with this type of disorder tend to not want any attention brought forward to themselves. By doing some acting I am facing my worse fears head-on. It’s not the easiest thing to do but the more I face them the better I feel about myself. It’s a true challenge but I get plenty of support from my husband. *Thank you sharing your strength and determination to conquer your fears*
9. If you were to do it all over again, would you do things exactly the same? Do you have any regrets? Successes that make you proud?
Terry: I’m not sure I would do it exactly the same. There is always room for improvement. Carol and I are self represented which has served us well to date but we need to acquire representation to move to the next level. Carol and I search for projects that can find a fit for both of us and we have been successful. We often are on set together and directors tell us that we are organic. I think I can speak for us both when I say that we are proud of everything we have done in the industry. There are “no small parts” is one of our mottos. Any regrets? None! We love our life and this industry has given us such great opportunities. We hope to continue to move forward in the industry and that our roles will be enjoyed by all who view.
Carol: Yes, I think I would do things pretty much the same. I have a good range of experience now. We have been successful in getting cast in some really interesting projects, many to be introduced this year. Regrets? I wish I had starting in this industry at an earlier age but the opportunity never arose. Successes? I’m proud of every role I have had but my first speaking role in a feature film was a big deal for me. I am also proud when my grandchildren tell me they saw Terry and I in feature films like Downsizing with Matt Damon.
Terry and Carol are both currently seeking agency representation.
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Written By: Darlene Morrison
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