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Rising Star Raylene Harewood On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

Find something else to be passionate about. Things can get complicated when your career is your only passion. In the past, I’ve put a lot of pressure on my career for that reason. It can be complicated because you really don’t have that much control over your career. All you can do is your best […]

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Find something else to be passionate about. Things can get complicated when your career is your only passion. In the past, I’ve put a lot of pressure on my career for that reason. It can be complicated because you really don’t have that much control over your career. All you can do is your best and wait for the right role at the right time. So in the meantime, do something that inspires you and that is more in your control. Something that’s just yours.

Raylene Harewood is a mixed-race actor who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She first developed her love of acting at age 12, taking drama classes both in and out of school. When Raylene landed her first professional theatre contract at age 16, she knew she was in it for life. At age 19, she made the move to Vancouver, BC to earn her diploma in acting at Studio 58’s conservatory-style program. Since graduating, she has been working in the Canadian film industry in projects such as Charmed, The Healing Powers of Dude, Supernatural and All Joking Aside.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I had a pretty standard upbringing. I went to school and did many extra-curricular activities on the side, one of which was acting. Guess that turned out pretty well for me!

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I did my first professional theatre show when I was sixteen. At that time, acting was more of a hobby. I played Lil Inez in Hairspray at Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg. I remember sitting in the dressing room once the show had opened and thinking “if I don’t do this for the rest of my life, I will be so unsatisfied.”

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There are a few. I’ll share one that always makes me smile. A few years ago I got a motion capture job for a popular video game. I’m not much of a gamer but my sister is a HUGE one. When I got to tell her what the title of the game was, she flipped out and said that was her favourite game series. It was a cool experience for her because when she was customizing her game character, she had pretty much the closest genetic match possible to start from. Not a lot of people get to say that!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This mistake wasn’t quite at the beginning of my career but it was after a few months’ break and I wasn’t very experienced at the time. I went in for a commercial audition where I was meant to be talking to a scene partner. Instead of picking a point slightly off camera to focus on, I delivered my lines right down the barrel of the camera. Nearly always, this is a big no-no. After I finished that take, the camera operator politely asked me to do my lines again with a modified eyeline. Luckily I didn’t have a big audience for that mistake because I felt so embarrassed and unprofessional.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m working on a few Hallmark-style indies at the moment. I’m also auditioning for a lot of exciting things!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

This. Is. Huge. One reason we need diversity is because the lack of it in the entertainment industry is a disservice to minorities. Minorities have to deal with the insecurity of feeling that their stories are not palatable or worthy of being told, which can in turn reflect on their own self worth and have an alienating effect. Another reason is that a lack of diversity is also a disservice to White/Cisgender/Heterosexual folks. Non-minorities have to deal with the misfortune of being unaware of life experiences that are dissimilar to their own. It gives them too much room to create narratives about others that are likely untrue. This furthers division and intolerance. A third reason is that we don’t see enough examples of what relationships (of any kind) can look like between minorities and non-minorities. I am a mixed-race woman and it was so strange to me that I never saw any mixed race couples on television when I was growing up. I think we need to see more examples in the media that promote integration of all walks of life. We need to see how to honour and respect others that are different from us, while also being able to foster meaningful relationships with them. The potential gift that could come from this is that people from all walks of life — minority or not — experience less fear and separation. This effect could ripple into all sectors of life — workforce, judicial system, education, local communities and more. Everyone benefits. So let’s get to it!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You have no idea how someone else views your work. I once left an audition crying because I felt my work was so terrible. I was really frustrated at that time because it had been a while since I had gotten a job. Turns out, the director didn’t feel that way! Later that day, I got a call saying I got the part. You just never know.
  2. You don’t have to be perfect in your work, you just have to be honest. That would have saved me a lot of time obsessing over every moment of an audition.
  3. The best way to learn is by watching the pros. I’ve learned the most about acting in film by watching how seasoned actors work both in scenes and in between scenes. I learned the balance between staying focused and letting loose, and how that balance is important when you’re working such long hours everyday.
  4. The memory is a muscle. I learned out of necessity that I can memorize much faster than I think I can. Especially when I’m really in practice. This was super useful when I was working twelve hours a day on set and I had to go home and put an eight page audition on tape. I learned not to get too overwhelmed (for the most part) and memorize for my audition in little pockets of free time during the day. It’s hard but doable! And as Glennon Doyle says, “we can do hard things.”
  5. Don’t work a part time job while you’re working as a lead in a feature. Just don’t do it. You need rest.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Find something else to be passionate about. Things can get complicated when your career is your only passion. In the past, I’ve put a lot of pressure on my career for that reason. It can be complicated because you really don’t have that much control over your career. All you can do is your best and wait for the right role at the right time. So in the meantime, do something that inspires you and that is more in your control. Something that’s just yours.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am so passionate about mental health. In my lifetime, I would be so happy if I saw a mass de-stigmatization of therapy and counselling. I also want it to be affordable and accessible for all. When we are unwell in the mind to any degree (which can sometimes be hard to detect), it manifests in our body and in our everyday lives. I think a lot of people don’t understand this and don’t have the motivation or opportunity to explore it. I think that if this was more of a priority in our society, we’d all be much kinder, happier and considerate of each other. And we would have needs met that we didn’t even know we had! The impact would be tremendous and I hope we get there one day.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are SO many people who have opened doors for me and guided me along the way. Teachers at college, my agents, my manager, friends and family. So many people. But one person that comes to mind is a woman named Brenda who ran a musical theatre company for youth in Winnipeg. Hairspray had been announced as one of the musicals at a popular theatre in Winnipeg. Brenda had been contacted for recommendations on a young actor who could play the role of Lil Inez. She reached out to me even though I wasn’t in her program at the time and encouraged me to audition. She also helped me choose a song and coached me on voice and movement. The experience of that job led me to where I am now. And Brenda was an integral part of that!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The way through the challenge is to get still and to ask yourself ‘what is the next right move?’ Not think about ‘oh, I got all this stuff to do,’ but what is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move. And not to be overwhelmed by it because you know your life is bigger than that one moment. You know you’re not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.” — Oprah Winfrey

This quote really helps me to stay present in moments of overwhelm. It also gives me permission to slow down and feel into whatever I may need in the moment, regardless of how it may feel like I need to rush to accomplish something. I’m less afraid of rejection now. It was really life-changing.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah, of course. Her openness, kindness, intelligence and curiosity constantly astound me. I’d love to discuss life philosophies, passions and I’d love to know more about her spiritual journey.

How can our readers follow you online?

Yes! @rayleneharewood on instagram and twitter. 🙂

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you so much!

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