Check out our interview with new short film “DYSTONIA” actress Sydney van Delft.
The short film is about violinist James Wong (played by Kenny Wong) who while studying at McGill University, is diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia: a neurological movement disorder causing the muscles of a player’s hand to involuntarily contract. Sydney plays James’ love interest Emily Kaine.
He was committed to practicing six to eight hours a day in preparation for a performance exam when he noticed something wrong — the ring finger on his left hand was retracting under his instrument. After numerous visits to the hospital, he was diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia, an incurable neurological movement disorder where the muscles of one’s hand contracts involuntarily.
The emotional chaos that resulted from it is depicted in the film as he tries to get a handle on his injury. His pride and fear of failure soon take a dire toll on his love life, his involvement with McGill’s top string quartet and himself.
Follow Sydney at @sydneyvandelft
Describe yourself in 3 words?
One thing you should know about me is that I don’t do well with limits, so I will be using many more than three words to describe myself. If I had to choose, I would say TENACIOUS, DRIVEN, GOOFY, ADVENTUROUS, FOCUSED, LOYAL, SELF MOTIVATED….
Who is your role model?
Brit Marling. Similar to myself, she quit a career in finance to work in film and TV. There’s an interview where she describes working at her former job as her “near death experience” and I can totally relate to that reflecting on my time working as a Chartered Accountant at a Big 4 firm. I love that she switched gears to create her own work and write the roles she wanted to play. She’s an inspiring creative and talented storyteller.
How did you get started into acting?
I actually got started acting through my career as a dancer. I trained at the National Ballet School and performed in ballets with the National Ballet of Canada when I was younger. I got to play different characters on stage for thousands of people and fell in love with it.
When my ballet career ended I wanted to focus on acting. I started doing musical theatre and then auditioned for film and TV. Shortly after, I got my first roles on Disney and Family channel shows.
How has this changed your life?
Being an actor and producer has made me more resilient than I ever thought possible, as the rejection is REAL. It’s forced me to trust that my intuition is right and pursue a life with purpose, which has become more and more important to me as I’ve grown up. I always throw everything into my projects because of the choices I’ve made to be here.
Tell us about your work in the new short film “DYSTONIA?”
“Dystonia” is a film that I produced and starred in. It was written by my friend, and talented actor/writer Kenny Wong, who has also written the award-winning feature film script of the same title. It’s Kenny’s true story of a violinist who is diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that forces the muscles in the hand to contract involuntarily. The film follows James Wong (Kenny) as he navigates the effects of this disorder on his career, his relationship with his girlfriend (me), and his whole life. The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival on November 15th, 2019 at Carlton Cinemas!
And about your role as Emily Kaine?
Emily Kaine is James’ girlfriend in the film. They have an innocent young love and she does her best to be supportive, but James’ condition starts to put a strain on their relationship. It was important for me to do the character of Emily justice as she is based on a real person in Kenny’s life. <3
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
As a producer, it’s so rewarding for me to help creatives get their stories told and see projects through to success. I also get to work with really interesting and talented people.
As an actor, it’s difficult to explain in words… but taking on a different character to tell a story is just a great feeling. Acting forces you to be completely in the moment, present and connected with the other person. That’s a beautiful thing.
What is your favorite healthy food?
At the risk of being basic… guac.
And your favorite cheat food?
How would you explain your fashion style?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think I have one style, and if I ever did it changes all the time. I tend to dress for the weather/ day and what I feel like before I leave the house so it ranges from 1920s paper boy, modern witch, basic millennial, independent Parisian woman, or full sweatsuit but make it fashion. In an effort to save the planet and have fun with clothes, I stay away from fast fashion and shop mostly vintage.
How would your best friend describe you?
Awkward/ hyper/ always down for food
What’s next for Sydney van Delft in 2020?
I’m currently acting in a feature film, called ‘On The Count of Three’, that will be out in 2020 as well as acting in my friend, Mike Ruby’s, music video for his new single. We’re premiering ‘Dystonia’ at the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival on November 15th, 2019 and developing the feature film. I am also developing another Canadian feature film but keeping that one on the down low for now 😉
What is your own definition of happiness?
A good hair day (has yet to happen for me), bottomless mimosas, getting surprise flowers (also has yet to happen for me), a big hug from my mom, inspiring and supportive friendships, eliminating single use plastics. Cozy socks and moisturized skin. Overpriced lattes and getting a case of the laughs where you can’t breathe. The cool side of the pillow.
What is a day in your life like?
In this industry, every day is different! But usually…if I wake up to my first alarm I do a quick work out before heading out. (This is rare.) Then, I head to my producing job, take some calls, answer some emails, make some jokes, gossip over lunch. I’ll usually be prepping for an audition or popping over to a casting office at some point during the day. My evenings vary between meditation class, instructing a fitness class at my friends’ studio, acting class, trying to stay hydrated, getting enough greens, and maintaining a social life.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sleeping in, followed by a cup of chai tea, a big walk on the beach with my dog (Buzz) and dad, catching up on some emails and prepping for the week ahead, then Sunday dinner and a movie in front of the fireplace with my family.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
NO CLUE. Neil deGrasse Tyson? Buzz Lightyear? Chloe Fineman? Pheobe Waller-Bridge? Brit Marling?
Best advice ever given?
“Syd, what’s the point of asking our advice? You’re going to do whatever you want anyway.” – my parents
Name 3 things you can’t live without?
Ketchup. Seasons. Love.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I see myself having created my own successful show, producing and acting in it and working with all my talented friends that I am proud to know already. Maybe I’ll have a side business and a dog named Eazy-E. Maybe Jennifer Lawrence and I will be planning a girls trip together. Manifestation amiright??
Favorite song? Why?
My favourite song is “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson. It was the ending song in Free Willy and I had no idea who Michael Jackson was at the time. I made my mom stay for the entire credits roll to listen to the song. It’s a fire song. However, my publicist says I should probably pick a new one. Is John Mayer a safe choice?
What music do you like?
I like any music that makes me feel like dancing or staring out the car window in the rain pretending I’m in a music video.
What do you think of Social Media?
Social media can be really fun, a way to connect, inspire and be inspired but there can be a lot of negative consequences from it. I make an effort to filter the content I consume so that it’s a positive experience. I am extremely thankful for Instagram dog accounts and memes.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: Little beats big when little is smart, first with the head and then with the heart – The Power of One
Favorite Singer/Artist: Rationale
Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Travel Destination: Amsterdam- the homeland.
Sports Team: I’m a Raptors bandwagon fan
TV Show: The OA, Fleabag
Book: Ready Player One