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Romuald Hivert on Featured Artists with Albert Nicholas Photography

Sunday September 1st 2013

Albert-Nicholas Nassrallah:
You recently booked two TV roles -
one on "Continuum", and the other on "Almost Human".
On which set did you have the best experience/learn the most, and why?

Romuald Hivert:
That’s hard to say, because both were great experiences. However, if I had to pick, I’d say "Continuum". I just had a feeling that the crew knew each other a little bit more and that made me feel like I was a part of the Continuum family. Not to say that "Almost Human" wasn't.

Of course, it’s only first impressions – and I was there only for a day. The director also gave me a lot of feedback when needed. I had so many questions to begin with, let’s not forget this was my first TV gig, so I was nervous and I thought to myself:
“OK, This will be on TV – The world will see this – Show them what you're made of!”

The pressure started to creep in and my biggest fear was that, I didn’t want to over act or perform so bad that they would have to cut me out of the scene. But as I said earlier, Will Waring (the director) was very reassuring. He was able to communicate his vision and what he needed from me: “You want me to do it like the south” I asked and he replied “Yes as bad as the south can be.” After one of the takes, he came back and said, “I really believed you in that last take.” And I guess that was a print. I felt proud of how I was able to create a believable character, utilizing just a few lines of dialogue. That was my victory.
I had the privilege to speak with Simon Barry (the creator of the show) about a few days after I was on set. I was ecstatic when he expressed how he loved my performance and he even went as far as saying: “You haven’t died - so we definitely have the option of bringing you back”. I hope Shelley Eriksen will remember to write me in another episode.
Let's cross our fingers.

Albert-Nicholas Nassrallah:
"Continuum" and "Almost Human" are both shot in Vancouver. After booking those, you must obviously have your focus aimed at other shows filmed in this city. Give me your top three and why.

Romuald Hivert:
Supernatural”, “Arrow” and “The Tomorrow People”. “Supernatural”, because I love the show, I think it's brilliant and captivating. It would be a dream come true to be on it one day. I auditioned for the show on multiple occasions, with Coreen and Heike, and sometimes I get the feeling that it's just a matter of time before I get to be on set. Believe! Just got to believe it! –
I’ll never forget that time where I was convinced I was going to book a part: My agent, Esther Cohen told me I was top choice. But James R. Baylis got the part. Oh James, him and his incredible deep voice and his irresistible charisma. - I love this man, but that time I wanted to shake him! - Ha-Ha! Oh competition, competition! Got to stay thirsty! Shout out goes to James who played my Father on “Captive”.

The second would be “Arrow”. It’s a hot TV show that looks like it’s going to do extremely well, if it isn’t already. I have watched a few “Vlogs” featuring one of the main characters, and I have a feeling it would be amazing to work on this set.

And “The Tomorrow People” for my 3rd top three. It has amazing visual effects for a TV show, which excites me. I love the concept and the story is electrifying. It’s so different and much better from the original IP back in 1979 (Now that we have the technology).

All three shows also fall into the three genres I love: Sci-fi, Action and Drama.

Albert-Nicholas Nassrallah:
Within the last year, you’ve switched agents. Based on your experience, what can you tell actors who may be unhappy with their agent?

Romuald Hivert:
The majority of actors are unhappy with their agent because they’re not being sent out for auditions, which was what I went through.
I think these actors should make sure they are being submitted before thinking about switching.
Who knows maybe your agent is submitting you after all. So call or email and ask.  
Then I’d wonder if the person who is submitting you is passionate about you. Be honest with yourself.
I understand every agent is different, but for me, these are my basic requirements:
- Does your agent answer your phone calls and emails? (Communication is crucial in this partnership.)
- Do they encourage you to grow in your craft?
- Do they send you updates of what’s going on in the industry?
- Can you set up an action plan with them that will help your acting career?
And I could go on.

At first I signed with a large/reputable agency. I was thrilled when they took me on their wings.
Unfortunately, I did not feel like I was my agent’s top priority. I developed a sour taste for large agencies based on my experience with that person. Once my contract was over I switched my business to Esther Cohen. I understand that the size of the agency may matter to a degree, but ultimately, getting the right agent for you is key. And it makes a world of a difference.

I love my agent, Esther. Yes she's young but she's hungry, I know she works hard and I know she believes in me just as much as I believe in her. Her dedication is almost palpable. She’s fighting to get me in the door just as much as I’m fighting to kick it open. And when I’m in the room, I take nothing for granted: I know her reputation is just as in much stake as mine. So I work twice as hard.

My word of advice is the following: Go with your gut and make sure you feel good about your partnership. You may have to switch agents a few times before you find the right one for you, but keep on looking. There’s a huge list of agents in this city, one is bound to fit you like a glove. It may not necessarily be similar to what I described, but what I’m saying is that no one should settle for a partnership they don’t like as you would for any relationship.

Rapid fire questions

Question 1:
What’s your favorite song, today?
"Let’s get it on" by Marvin Gaye.

Questions 2:
Which activity do you love?
Besides acting and sex? Don’t put that in there (laugh), let’s see, hum… I like working out.

Question 3:
Which activity do you hate?
Working! Oh shit, that’s such a bad answer.
Let me rephrase that: Working in a field I'm not passionate about.

Question 4:
Who is your male inspiration/idol?
Denzel Washington! “Put the bag down!” Ha-Ha!

Question 5:
Who’s your female inspiration/idol?
Well I have a few. So here’s my top two –
Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin and Nadine Wright.

Question 6:
If you could, which celebrity’s career (male or female) would you emulate?
Will Smith and Denzel Washington.

Question 7:
With which celebrity, of the opposite sex, are you dying to do a love scene with?
Meagan Good. Final Answer!

Question 8:
With which celebrity, of the same sex, are you willing to do a love scene with?
I don’t... uh... shit, I don’t know. - Sorry this may take a while… Wait... hum... I'd just have to pick... ahh, me? Ha-Ha!

Question 9:
On a different note - Would you rather be frozen to death or burnt alive? 
Neither! But if I had to choose, frozen to death, I guess... I don’t like this question!

Question 10:
On the show “Inside the Actor’s Studio”, James Lipton asks this last question:
“If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?” – I’d like to ask: If hell exists, what would you like to hear the Devil say if you arrived at his gate?
Enjoy yourself!


Question 11:
Any last inspiring words for actor’s who may be struggling in this city?
Have confidence in yourself. Strive, strive - strive! Be thirsty! Find a community, train, work hard, create, produce, have fun – and of course, never give up.

Question 12:
And finally, is there a role or a character you would like to play one day?
Yes! I want to be the next “Black Panther (T’Challa)” when Marvel will make it into a movie. I want it to be a trilogy, and I hope he will be part of the avengers as well. Believe, believe!

Romuald Hivert graduated from the VFS Acting for Film & Television program in 2011. In between acting gigs, including an upcoming stint on the Vancouver-shot science fiction series Continuum, Romuald is a Teaching Assistant in the Entertainment Business Management program.

You may also recognize him from his role in Captive, the first ever VFS feature-length film. We recently spoke with Romuald about what led him to acting, the VFS community, and life since graduation.

Have you always wanted to be an actor? How did you come about choosing it as a career?

Romuald: No. I always knew I loved performing but didn’t know I wanted to be an actor. I was working at a bank and I wanted to do something else with my life. So I decided that I would try what  that I had always wanted to do. I immediately enrolled in a two-year theater program in Ontario (OSSD). After the first year, I wasn’t sure if it was for me, but the Director of the Adult Acting program, Bruce Bissonnette, wouldn’t let me go. He said I was a gem. That second year, it finally clicked that I wanted to pursue this as a career. After the program ended, I decided to move to Vancouver and go to Vancouver Film School. I wanted to take my acting to the next level and VFS is one of the best schools in Canada for that.

What was your experience like in the VFS Acting program?

Romuald: Learning how to act is a lifelong thing. I received a great skill base at VFS but I also got access to the VFS community as a bonus. The network I was able to build at VFS is not something you can put a price on. I wouldn’t have known anyone otherwise. I do have to cultivate it but it truly is one of the most valuable things I took away from the school. The community that I became a part of, including teachers, alumni, classmates, students from other programs, producers, directors, photographers – it’s a pool of resources. It’s better than the yellow pages.

What was life like after graduation? What were the first steps?

Romuald: I went back to the real world. I took a flexible job that I could do while I went on auditions. I found an agent right away and booked my first gig out of school, The Arrangement, a film that comes out next year.

After a year, I changed agents. This was when I started getting a lot more auditions, sometimes three a day! I realized how important it is to find the right agent, one that fits you, someone you can work with and create a partnership. My advice is to find the person who can help you maximize your talent and your uniqueness – almost like a soul mate.

With my new agent, I was able to take a bit of control and make an action plan together, as opposed to leaving it all to chance. I shared with Esther Cohen, my agent, my three strongest characters – thug, professional man/love interest, and high school student. That’s what I excel at. Obviously I still audition for other types of characters but I think it’s fair to say those three are my current base and where I am strongest.

Tell us about your experience on Continuum.

Romuald: I filmed an episode of Continuum in February which airs Sunday, May 12. I thought it would be intimidating and I was really worried about having to show them I could act but it was very comfortable and the atmosphere was great. I was so used to being on camera at VFS that I felt like I was at home. At the same time, it was also scary because I thought I should be freaking out. I got really good feedback on set, especially for one of my lines in particular. It felt great and I was happy. I was even more convinced that acting is what I really want to do for a living.

Simon Barry, the creator of Continuum, recently visited VFS as a guest speaker and spoke about the road he took that led him to his success. I sat up front, ready to hand him a thank you card for having me on the show since I didn’t get a chance to meet him on the day. When the talk was over, I nervously walked over in his direction. Before I could say anything he said, “I know you! You did an awesome job on Continuum!” He also told me that it was great that my character didn’t die – so you never know what could happen, fingers crossed!

What are you working on now?

Romuald: I am currently a TA in the Entertainment Business Management program. I am also auditing some of the classes, learning more about how to use social media to market myself, how to create a personal brand, and more.

I also took part in Evermore, a short film and personal project. It was produced by Ian Berg, a Foundation Visual Art & Design and Digital Design grad. He is a now a post-production specialist and wanted to use his visual effects skills in the short. It was written by Bobby Henwood, a Writing for Film & Television grad. In fact, about 99% of the people involved in the film are VFS grads. It’s a great example of how the VFS network can come together. It was a great experience and I am very excited for the final product. Ian is hoping to release it this fall.

What are you goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Romuald: Five years from now I want to be working as an actor, mainly in Vancouver but also throughout Canada and the United States. I want to be a lead character on a hit TV show. I would like to be in at least one action film – doing stunts, fighting, using guns, etc. I want to be in at least one blockbuster movie as well – and stay alive throughout the movie! My characters always die! (Laughs) Now that I’ve said all these things, I really have to do it!

It is important to continue taking classes. I know that I will always need to keep training to get to the next level. I received some great advice about who I am as an actor – I need to understand my stereotypical hit. I love the fact that I look dangerous and have a strong presence. The man within – the actor – is a humble kid, full of wonder and play. I like to be bold, fierce, daring, and loving. I just want to share with the world stories that they will never forget. For that, I am willing to share generously the essence of what makes me, me.

I hope people can relate to my characters and that will make them want to learn more about them and their circumstances.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Romuald!

For more information on what Romuald is up to, check out his Facebook Page.
You can also catch him on this Sunday’s episode of Continuum, airing on Showcase.

by Danielle Lucas

It’s in you: You don’t give up! - Dream Big! Dare to fail!
— Bruce Bissonnette