Interview with talented “Barbelle” actress Gwenlyn Cumyn
BARBELLE follows the story of a newly famous Toronto based pop-star duo, Veronica Vale and Alice O’Hara, whose meteoric rise to stardom has led to a blitzkrieg on their personal lives.
With over 4 million views to date, season two of BARBELLE serves up the series’ classic flare and humour while rounding out the story with the timely exploration for some of 2018’s most vital topics: The #metoo movement through a queer lens, adversity facing women in music industry, and the nasty effects of an over-curated digital identity on the psyche.
Hi Gwenlyn, please tell us a little about you?
I’m an actor/writer based out of Toronto. I like long rides on the subway, escaping into neighbourhoods I’ve never been to, and I’ve never been on a roller coaster.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Patient, Slytherin, friggin’ adorable.
Name one of your strengths?
Happy to brag about my editing skills! Give me a script that’s too long, and I’m pretttty good at cutting it down to size.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Coffee, catch up on my news, take over some coffee shop with my creative partner Karen Knox, answer emails, find creative solutions to whatever production canundrum we’re faced with that day, and get to do some writing if we’re lucky. Then home to watch as much TV as possible! I love being up on all the new shows.
Who is your biggest supporter?
Even though they don’t live in Toronto, my parents are an incredible support network for me.
How did you get started in the industry?
I went to an arts high school in my home town, which gave me my first taste of acting, but really got my start in cheesy reenactment dramas and indie theatre.
What was your first acting role?
I was scouted early in kindergarten to appear in the Grade 6 performance of The Pied Piper. I was a featured rat.
Did you take any acting classes?
Since I graduated theatre school, I haven’t taken too many classes, but instead opted to work on as many student short films. I also have a coach who helps me out with auditions or breaking down a script once I book a role.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
Best part is getting to dress up, all the time. Disappearing into other characters is awesome. The worst part is, you know, the constant rejection. Woohoo!
How do you balance your personal life with your acting life?
Staying grounded and not forgetting there’s a wide world out there is important. Travelling when possible and affordable, as well as just plain old not talking about acting when out with friends helps keep things in perspective.
Best advice ever given?
Everything in moderation. Especially moderation.
How do you prepare for a role?
Depends on the role! Researching the part is always important, and breaking down a script so you’re clear on what your character wants when. Rehearsals are scarce in film, so I try and sit down with a scene buddy before shooting anything and practice certain beats and character stylings.
Now tell us about your award-winning short form series “BARBELLE” What can we expect for the new season?
This new season of our very own lesbian Spiceworld, will be hot, featuring new messy music videos, more dancing, reality show magic, and a touch of a musical episode. In all seriousness, this new season has a bit more of a grown-up edge, and handles some heavier topics, like the #metoo movement through a queer lens. With grants affording us a bigger budget for this season, we’ve been able to step up our overall production value, but regardless of budget, our unexpected style is back, baby!
BARBELLE | S01 EP1 | Starring Gwenlyn Cumyn + Karen Knox
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
Having gone to classical theatre school, there’s always a part of me that yearns for a part in a period piece. Emma Stone’s character in The Favourite would be a dream role for me!
Which role has been the most challenging and which one is your favorite?
Honestly, my character Alice in BARBELLE has been one of the most challenging roles for me, having to split time between producing and acting, but it’s also been my favourite.
What is next for Gwenlyn Cumyn in 2019?
We’re developing a few new projects this year. Keep your eyes out for Slo Pitch (a short form comedy about a beer league slo pitch team), and we’re dreaming of a feature film in the not so distant future.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
Olivia Coleman! I’ve been following her career for ages, and I just love everything she does. And I’m so glad she’s finally getting the MASSIVE recognition she deserves.
3 things you can’t leave your house without?
Phone, keys, wallet baby! It’s a lifestyle.
What music do you like?
I’m a sucker for folk music. But as any good millennial, you can’t tie me down to one genre.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Movie watching, my favorite Indian Roti take out, and turning off my phone.
Something people don’t know about you?
I worked as a line cook for a few years, so I’m a half decent cook.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Woah big question. Good food, and good friends. In a villa on the Italian Riviera preferably.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d love to nerd out about politics with Josh Lyman (fictional character) from The West Wing.
What do you like to watch on TV?
Right now there’s a great roster of TV that I’m into. Broad City, High Maintenance, Barry and Veep are currently my favs, and I always keep an eye out for new Samantha Bee.
Do you support any charities?
Every year my family gives to charity instead of buying presents. This year we supported The Trevor Project.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: “Exit, pursued by a bear” – A Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare
Holiday Destination: Nothing like a cabin in the woods.
Song: Allstar by Smashmouth
Sports Team: Ottawa Senators
Movie: The Wizard of Oz