Check out our interview with CBC Gem new comedy series “The Communist’s Daughter” Actor Ryan Taerk who stars as Boris McDougald.

The Communist’s Daughter follows Dunyasha McDougald, the daughter of two happily married communists who struggles to fit in at a new school – while trying to uphold her family’s outdated beliefs. Ryan’s character Boris is Dunyasha’s younger brother who is named after a member of the proletariat in a Chekov play. A little Alex P. Keaton in the making, Boris is the black sheep of the family and doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with his book-smart father and younger sister.

Follow Ryan @ryantaerk

Hi Ryan, please tell us a little about you?

I’m an actor, screen/song writer, musician, and most importantly, I’m my parents third child. I’m most proud of that! 🙂

Describe yourself in 3 words

Caring Optimistic Giving

How did you get started into acting?

Professionally, I got started in acting when I was in my teens, but I feel like I have been acting since I was a kid. I always loved creating characters and performing shows/skits for my family and friends. When I was nine years old I went to my dad and asked him, referring to acting, “What is this thing I do?” He said, “It’s called acting. People who do that are actors.” I asked, “Can you make money doing this?” He said, “Yes, if you work hard.” From that moment on I was committed, and I started telling people that I was an actor. From there on I started taking classes and got involved with community theatre. I eventually booked my first role in DW Waterson’s comedy, Green Christmas. I played Jedidiah The Elf, who was fronting as a volunteer for the salvation army, but really sold weed to people. It was one of the funniest projects I’ve worked on!

How has this changed your life?

It’s changed my life in many ways. Playing characters and telling stories started out as a very cathartic thing for me. It was a coping mechanism when I was being bullied in school. As I grew up, I learned so much about empathy, and that has been the greatest teacher of all. I have learned to approach everyone the same way I approach a new character. I try to lead with a sense of openness, accepting them and appreciating them for all that they are, without any judgements.

What is the best and also most challenging part of being an actor?

The best part of being an actor is getting to play pretend for a living. I know that sounds funny, but actors/storytellers get to play as their career. How fun is that!? Getting to tell stories and play characters makes me feel like a kid. I feel like playing in that space of innocence and fun opens me up to a world of possibilities. The most challenging parts would definitely be the waiting to hear back on projects that you get close on. But, I have learned that there is a time for everything, and there is always a reason for everything. When I do remember or am reminded of this, I very quickly go from this need for control to a grateful place of acceptance and hope.

Tell us about your work in CBC Gem’s “The Communist’s Daughter?” And about your role as Boris McDougald?

The Communist’s Daughter has such a special place in my heart. The level of fun that we had on set made the energy around the production so exciting. It was such a joy getting to go to work everyday. This show is about a family of communists in 1989 that try to assimilate into normal North America society, while living with their communist beliefs. Their world gets flipped upside down when the father, Ian McDougald, announces that he is running for city council under an independent/communist banner. Hilarity ensues for the entire family which creates a lot of laughter and fun, especially for both Dunyasha and Boris, as they try to navigate being supportive of their family and surviving high school. I play Boris McDougald; he is the family’s youngest child. Boris would be looked upon as the outcast of the family because he doesn’t agree with his family’s communist beliefs. He’s a young capitalist and has a drive to earn money and close the deal. Boris is such a fun character to play. I am so grateful that he is a part of my life.

How do you prepare for a role?

I start with reading the script and understanding what role I’m playing and where my character fits in the overall story. Once I have an understanding of that, I am able to start stepping into who my character is and experience their thoughts and feelings. I may even go for a walk as the character, to physically move as they do. Incorporating all three of those things creates a solid foundation for me to continue the process of getting to know this “new” human. I also look to other mediums of art to help inform my choices as the character. I turn to articles, books, television, movies, etc to inform me of the world that my character lives in. I feel like this educates me on making very specific choices as my character. It’s a fun process! For Boris, I watched a lot of 1980s hit movies, specifically Rocky IV and Wall Street. Just from those two very different movies, I got a sense of the way people behaved during that wild decade.

What other projects do you have on the go that you can talk about?

I have been very lucky to have used this past year as a very productive creative time. I have been working very closely with my writing partners/brothers, Josh and Matt Taerk, creating lots of different content for further development on screen as well as co-writing a lot of new music. I am currently working on my first co-written pilot, and that experience has been so incredible. I can’t wait to share more details in the near future, but until then, know that there is a lot going on in the creative kitchen, and I can’t wait to share the meal with you all.

What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?

I feel like so far in my career, I have been very blessed to play the characters that I have. All of them have been different, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to stretch my acting muscles taking on different roles. I think playing a real person who is depicted in a film/series would be a fun experience. Getting to learn and understand who they are and how they thought would be a fun challenge.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is getting to entertain an audience. I love taking audiences on an emotional journey. That experience makes me feel so fulfilled because that was something that inspired me to go down this road in the first place.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

That’s a great question. I think the greatest lesson I learned from my biggest failure was to never be upset with myself doing my best, even if it doesn’t work out the way I had intended at the beginning. One of the greatest things about the idea of failure is the concept of it actually turning into wisdom that can guide you the next time you are faced with a similar moment in time.

What’s your advice for newer actors?

Always be open to learn! I found some of the greatest lessons in my early career were from practical experience, being on a set, and learning from how other actors handled material. I feel like all actors, no matter what stage of your career you are at, are students of life. Every new lesson is something that can guide you. Also, and this is the most important thing, remember to have fun! We, as actors, have such a fun job. Let that feeling guide you through your career!

How would your best friend describe you?

I would hope that they would say I’m a fiercely loyal friend. I champion the people that I love. My family and friends know that I am always just a phone call away. No matter how busy I am, I always make the time for the people I love.

What’s next for Ryan Taerk in 2021?

2021 started off with a bang for me, so I am very grateful for that! In terms of what’s next, I am currently developing my first pilot script and a few other projects as well as writing new music with my songwriting partners/brothers Josh and Matt. There are a few other things that I look forward to sharing soon, but until then, I am grateful that 2021 is looking the way it is!

What is your favorite healthy food?

My favourite healthy food is an avocado. It packs a lot of punch as far as nutrients go.

And your favorite cheat food?

I love having a sushi and pizza night. I know this may sound like an odd pairing, but it’s a beautiful combination!

How would you explain your fashion style?

I would say my fashion style is contemporary with classic elements.

What is your own definition of happiness?

Getting to do what I love, and sharing that experience with loved ones as well as people that have been affected by that work. To me happiness also comes in the form of giving back. Getting to help others is one of the most fulfilling and beautiful experiences.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could meet anyone, I’d want to meet my dad’s grandfather. He passed away before I was born, so I never met him, but I have heard the best stories about him. I am so grateful for how much love he gave my dad, and I know, my dad thinks about him often.

Best advice ever given?

I was in Tennessee recording music with my brother Josh. This man, who we met was giving us industry advice; the advice seemed really strange, but also made us feel like we weren’t doing anything right. Someone who overheard this particular conversation pulled us aside later on and said to us, “Before taking advice from someone, check their tires.” At the time I was so confused about that. The man explained that in Tennessee, big trucks and new clean tires are the Rolls Royce of the south. So to paraphrase, make sure that you respect the person that you are choosing to take advice from.

Do you support any charities?

YES! Giving back to my local community and/or the greater global community is such an important thing to me. I support a few different charities. I currently support Variety The Children’s Charity, Love Button Global Movement, and am on the YP Board for Save A Child’s Heart Canada. I am also very proud to have created and currently co-operate a holiday turkey dinner drive in my hometown, Toronto Canada, called Taerk’s Turkey Drive. We started this project in 2017 and it has grown ever since. So grateful to be a part of spreading love wherever I can.

Where do you see yourself and your career five years from now?

I would love to continue to do what I love, working with other creative people to make entertainment for audiences everywhere. I’d love to also be working on projects that I have created/co-created!

Favorite song? Why?

That’s really hard! I love music and I have a very eclectic taste in music. Since I was a child, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band have always had a presence in my family. I’d have to say right now, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen is my favourite song. I love the way that he and The E Street Band play it live. The way a stadium sings along with The Boss is undeniably energetic. The saxophone solo live in the middle is incredible. The energy throughout feels like a symphony of energy and adrenaline rushing through your body, feeling like you are chasing that American dream. It’s a love note to all the dream chasers out there. I love it!

What do you think of Social Media?

I think Social Media plays a major role in today’s society. I believe social media has always given people the platform to connect, which is really important especially now. During the pandemic, I feel like social media gave us the opportunity to stay close to others while being isolated. I feel like human connection is really important, and if used responsibly, it can be a platform to create great change. My personal experience with social media has been great because it has given me the opportunity to interact with others and even meet the people that have resonated with the work I’ve done.

Where can we follow you?

You can find me on Instagram @ryantaerk or on Twitter @RyanTaerk.


Book: LOVE – What life is all about… -By Leo Buscaglia

Quote: “Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy.” -Walt Disney

Movie: Superbad

TV Series: Schitt’s Creek

Favorite Food: Sushi, specifically spicy salmon rolls

Travel Destination: Australia

Sports Team: Toronto Raptors