Be kind, always. (It’s easy to become full of oneself when success comes. But it’s a huge mistake as it fades away as fast as it happened and as unique as we are… we are still all replaceable in this business. No attitude and lots of gratitude!
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Shoshana Wilder.
Shoshana Wilder is a Canadian actor, voice-over artist and singer based in Los Angeles, CA. Bi-coastal, she shares her time between LA, NYC, Toronto and Montreal, her beloved hometown. Truly versatile, Shoshana Wilder works in English, French, Italian and Yiddish and masters several dialects and accents.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I’m a proud Montreal girl, born and raised. My mom raised us (3 kids!) alone (she’s a hero, truly) and though we had very little, growing up, she always pushed us to pursue our dreams.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I think seeing my mother doing a lot with nothing (Halloween costumes out of old clothes, transforming old furniture into beautiful unique pieces, delicious meals out of leftovers, etc), creativity and resourcefulness was omnipresent in my daily life and it forced us to learn to use our imagination and do wonders with very little. As a kid, I was recording shampoo commercials with my best friend on cassette tapes, and as a teen, regular basement parties were replaced by skits and improv nights. I took the drama class program in high school but was very shy then. Took me a few years after that to have the courage to apply to a Professional acting school (which I had no idea existed). That’s where I learned everything, best and worst years of my life 😉
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Moving to Los Angeles alone and broke only based on a gut feeling is certainly an interesting story on its own! I had NO IDEA how hard (and beautiful) these first years would be… but I’m glad I didn’t as I wouldn’t ever have done it have I known. It has certainly changed me forever, in such a beautiful way, deepening my compassion and strengthening my self-confidence. Once you survive that kind of deracinating experience… you’re quite unstoppable.
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?
So many little angels on my path along the way; from my voice and diction teacher in Drama School, Marie-Lise Hetue, who looked at me straight in the eyes on my first diction class and said ‘’ You’ve got a great talent but you can’t succeed speaking like a baby, come and see me after class’’. I had a few speech impediments I was holding onto, thinking it was cute, maybe? She gave me so much extra time after class (for months!) to get me to have impeccable diction and a strong work ethic. I will never forget the tough love, and the pride in her eyes the night she came to see me perform in my first professional play The Dybbuk, a few years later. Of course, there’s the queen of queens, my mom, who’s always been behind me, believing in me when I didn’t, every step of the way; my cheerleader and toughest critique!
But I need to mention my late agent and friend, my most recent angel… Shimon Aviel, who just suddenly passed in February. I still have one of his emails printed on my fridge, a reminder of what great actors are made of. I will never forget him. He taught me so much and his friendship and presence were my fuel to keep going in tough and dry times. I feel like he’s looking from above and smiling, saying ‘’I told you so’’ with his adorable Israeli accent.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I think the amount of work and money put in and the unconditional love actors HAVE to have for the craft is underrated and not something people that are not in that field know. When they watch us on TV, it looks so easy and fun and glamourous. They do not see the rejection, the doubts, the critique, the years of invisible work, and the empty wallets (acting is very costly too!)! It’s a beautiful but tough business. I’d say only pursue it if you ABSOLUTELY cannot do anything else, be kind to everyone, always, arrive early, work harder than you think you can and only send in work you can be proud of. And don’t be scared to take risks!!
What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I love my industry with all my heart. I have learned to embrace the unknown, to love to audition (yup!) and have fun creating and be in the moment. And once you book… the research, the transformation… and the amazing human beings you get to meet and learn from. Incredible.
The changes I’d love to see… we’re on the right path, but definitely more diversity and more equality. We’re not there yet…
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I’m slowly getting back to my first love, theatre (can’t talk about that one just yet!), and finally writing my first movie. I’m learning every day and really intrigued to see myself write and direct, that will be a fun new step for me.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
It is essential for our youth to recognize themselves in the series they are watching. Role models… see they are not alone, that they are understood, and that they are also seen and heard. And for many, seeing diversity on their screen and getting attached to or following the main character who is from a different background or a culture they do not know much about can truly be an eye-opener (I’m thinking here of Canadian series Transplant where our main hero is a great and kind doctor who also happens to be a Muslim Syrian man who does pray and practice Islam, wherein so many series, Muslims are portrayed as the ‘’bad guys’’.).
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
-Know your biggest flaw and once you’ve worked on it, it will be your best feature! (5 am Club book says it all! There’s a whole chapter about it, and it’s so true. Everything I hated about myself as a young woman, things I tried to hide… They are truly, as an adult, my most endearing qualities, and what makes me unique and stand out.)
-Be kind, always. (It’s easy to become full of oneself when success comes. But it’s a huge mistake as it fades away as fast as it happened and as unique as we are… we are still all replaceable in this business. No attitude and lots of gratitude!
-Instinct is a whisper, fear screams. Listen carefully and you’ll know what to do.
-Whatever scares you the most, run towards it.
-Wake up early and workout is the best way to stay sane in this world! (for me at least 😉
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
Every day I wake up early (Thank you 5 am Club!) and go either for a hike, a jog by the beach or a long walk. Nature is where I find my peace and working out gets the bad out and leaves room for all the good for the rest of my day. And then I’m ready for coffee!! (café latte all the way) and to get on with my never-ending to-do list, auditions, furniture fixing projects, etc! I also do intermittent fasting. Acting is a very unstructured lifestyle most of the time, so my daily routine and my intermittent fasting habits keep me focused and give me a frame to work within.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Again, this treasure is from 5 am Club, here it goes and it changed my life: Every unfinished project is a piece of self-respect taken away from you’’. 100%. Yes. This line had me go back to old projects and complete them or close the chapter on them. And, SO MANY QUOTES from The Alchemist (Paolo Coehlo)., this life-changing book is about life and how the treasure is the path, not the end result. We forget that too often and spend so much energy getting somewhere while forgetting to enjoy every second of the way getting there.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
To me, there’s only one, Meryl Streep. My role model as a human being and an artist. And she’s a character actor, like me; she transforms and becomes completely different from one role to the next. One day I’ll have the chance to thank her in person for the inspiration, the beauty she shares with the world and the high work ethic bar she raises for actors around. But… other than that, I was once told by Jackie and Philip Andre on set (and incredibly flattered!!) that I looked like Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts if they had a baby (video proof!). These are two women I also admire a whole lot. I watch and learn.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!