Sydney Meyer: “Prospect of failure is real in any endeavor”

You need to be surrounded by people who will be there through the ups and the downs, who believe in you and want to see you succeed, who will challenge you and help you grow. I’m so fortunate to have such incredible loving people in my life and I think that it’s so important to […]

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You need to be surrounded by people who will be there through the ups and the downs, who believe in you and want to see you succeed, who will challenge you and help you grow. I’m so fortunate to have such incredible loving people in my life and I think that it’s so important to be aware of who you spend your time with and you allow to permeate your mind.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sydney Meyer.

Sydney Meyer was born and raised in London, Ontario, and moved to Toronto, Canada when she decided to pursue acting at the age of 15. Sydney found her passion for performing at an early age when she attended a school for the arts from grades four to eight. It wasn’t until she was accepted into the Etobicoke High School for the Arts for a double major in dance and drama that she realized acting was what she wanted to pursue as a full-time career. From there, she would continue to hone her skills by attending The Los Angeles Theatre of Arts, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, as well as The New York Film Academy and the Shakespeare School at the Stratford Festival.

Since then, Sydney has amassed a significant body of work in several films and television productions including guest roles on TRANSPLANT (CTV), THE EXPANSE (SYFY/SPACE CHANNEL), SAVING HOPE (CTV/NBC) DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION (CTV), series regular roles on DEPARTURE (GLOBAL), and V-WARS (NETFLIX), and films such as LEVEL 16, THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, REMEMBER ME MOMMY?, and PRETTY CHEATERS DEADLY LIES. Her first big break came when she was cast as Helen Blackthorn in the highly popular supernatural drama television series SHADOWHUNTERS (FREEFORM/NETFLIX). It was with this project that she experienced firsthand the power of strong fandom for a television show.

Coming up next, Sydney is set to star in the new Netflix series GRAND ARMY premiering worldwide October 16th, which follows a group of New York City teenagers as they navigate life, sex, and trauma inside and outside of the halls of their public Brooklyn high school. Sydney plays Anna Delaney, a junior, the motherly figure of her group, Tim Delaney’s twin sister, and cool-girl Joey’s best friend since childhood.

Outside of acting, Sydney is an avid reader and enjoys boxing, archery, baking, cooking, and dance. Sydney also exercising her creativity by writing her own music as a singer/songwriter.

Understanding the importance of philanthropy, Sydney supports causes that are close to her heart which include The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Everytown for Gun Safety, The ACLU, The NAACP, as well as The Education Collaborative.

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 grew up in London Ontario. My mother is an emergency room doctor and my father is a teacher. I have two older brothers and we were all kept fairly busy growing up. Our parents signed us up for everything. We all played an instrument, where on sports teams, danced, sang, did community theatre, and did extracurricular academics. We would spend every summer traveling as a family. It was really lovely because my parents made sure that as we were growing up we were discovering what we had a passion for and what we were skilled at. I feel so lucky for that. It was easier for us to pick what we wanted to do because we had been exposed to so much. I feel like I also learned so much about hard work and time management as I was growing up and I’m really thankful for that.

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

Honestly, it happened kind of by mistake. I was very focused on having an academic career. My whole family is very academic and I thought that was what I wanted as well. There came a point when I was very unhappy at my school because I was being bullied but there were no options to change schools because you had to go to your “home school”. My parents could see how unhappy I was and they found this school for the arts that ran from grade 4–8 that was admission by audition and if you got in then anyone from any district could go. They encouraged me to audition. It was a two-day audition and you had to do all of the arts (visual, singing, dance, play an instrument, drama), I danced and played piano but I wasn’t confident I would be accepted. I ended up getting in and my parents really encouraged me to take a chance and go. I went to the school and it was the most amazing change for me. I felt at home in a school for the first time. I felt I had a purpose. We put on plays every year and I fell in love with acting and with performing Shakespeare. My drama teacher became a real mentor for me. In our finale year, we performed Hamlet and I played Ophelia, that was a real turning point for me when I realized I loved this and it was something I wanted to pursue. My parents were only convinced to let me pursue it when someone from the Stratford Shakespeare festival saw our production of Hamlet and was complimentary of my performance. After that, I auditioned for Etobicoke School for the Arts in Toronto and I moved to Toronto for high school to pursue acting. It took on a life of its own from there.

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

I think for me something that was so special was when I got to work on Departure. When I was first sparking a love for acting I went to study at Shakespeare school at the Stratford Festival. When I was there I saw Christopher Plummer perform as Prospero in The Tempest. I was so awestruck by his performance. I had never seen anything so powerful before at that time. I remember sitting in the theatre and thinking “I want to do that. I want to make people feel this way”. I kept the program from that performance because it had such an effect on me. So many years later I ended up getting cast in Departure and Christopher Plummer is on the show and it just felt like such a full-circle moment for me. To be acting in a project with him felt like such a massive milestone. I brought the program I saved from his performance to set and he signed it for me. It was a moment that for me felt like I was making progress, I felt like I had come so far in that moment and I’ll never forget that. Having the chance to work with people you’ve looked up too is just an honor.

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?

There have been so many times that I’ve felt out of place or like I didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve had so many failures and lessons along the way. Honestly, my callback for V-Wars was kind of hilarious. I went in and got stopped in the middle of my scene and asked to change my outfit. I was so thrown off. I finished the two scenes and as I was walking out the door the asked me to do the last scene again but throw away the lines and just go crazy. I felt so lost. I did the scene and I left and sat in my car crying for half an hour because I thought the audition went so poorly. I was so upset with myself because I thought I had just blown this incredible opportunity. I got a call a couple days later that I booked it and I found out when I was on set that as soon as I left the audition they knew they wanted me for the role. So while I was sitting in my car crying they were calling Netflix to send me through for approval. I learned from that experience that I’m really the worst judge of my own work. I have to do the work and leave it. I can’t tell when things have gone well or gone poorly and it doesn’t serve me to get caught up in it. I have to just go in there and do my best and then try and put it out of my mind and make peace with the fact that after that it’s out of my hands.

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?

Oh goodness. I have had so many people help me in such massive ways on my journey. My parents have been pillars of support for me throughout the years. My first drama teacher Mr. Carins believed in me before I even thought that this was a possibility for me. My first acting coach Lewis Baumander became like a father to me. I lived at his studio and he helped me grow as an artist and as a person through crucial years. There were casting directors in town Lisa Parysan and Jonathan Oliveira who had this unwavering belief in me and hired me as a reader for years, they hired me to work table reads on shows and gave me every opportunity, those table reading jobs were how I ended up getting Shadowhunters and Grand Army. Also my acting teacher from LA Rob Nagle, he is family for me. He taught me so much about acting but also about life. He’s made me a more complete person. He has believed in me with such love. He and his wife were my support system in LA. There have been so many times I was so unsure of myself and he has always been there. Any time I am worried about a scene on set I call him. These people have made me who I am as an artist and a person and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. They have lifted me up and believed in my ability and my dreams even when I didn’t. I am so unbelievably thankful for their presence in my life. I am indebted to them indefinitely.

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 it’s about redefining for yourself what success and failure look like. The prospect of failure is real in any endeavor. I think you have to look at success as being fulfilled and happy and inspired. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about then you’re succeeding. I had years and years as an actor that I was “failing” on paper. But I was happy in the pursuit, I was happy in the creation of the art and so I continued and eventually I was considered a success. Nothing will ever be guaranteed but if there is a satisfaction in the process that to me is an indicator of success. People respond positively when you’re working from a place of love.

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

I think that there have been so many pieces of art that have been beacons of light for me during dark times. Works that have helped me to find myself, to feel seen and heard, helped me to make a change in my life or to hope for something different. I wake up every day excited to better myself as an artist and to create art because I hope that one day I can create something that will affect someone in that same way. Art can impact people to make a change in their personal life, it can provoke social movements and that’s such a beautiful gift and responsibility that we have. I wake up every day wanting to work towards art at that level. I think we’re starting to see movement in the industry but I would love to see more equal representation both on and off the screen. I would love to see stories being told that hold themselves socially responsible. I also think it’s a really beautiful thing when we tell a story that shows the world the way it could be. I think Schitt’s Creek did this so beautifully. Sometimes by just not making things an issue, we can show a beautiful alternative. I think the way Schitt’s Creek did that by just having sexual orientation be a non-issue was so powerful and such a beautiful example. I would love to see more of that. I would love to see art set an example for the world.

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 can’t speak too much about it yet, but I’m so excited and thankful to be working on a project with my fiancé right now. It’s a different thing to be acting with someone who knows you so intimately and who you trust so completely. It’s a really beautiful and special experience and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I think this is a different challenge as an actor. I would love to, from here, of course, keep acting and challenging myself as an artist. I would love to make some of my own work as well. I’ve been writing scripts and I would love to produce a script that I’ve written and tell a story that’s important to me in that way. I think that’s a new adventure for me that I’m really excited about. I want to be more involved in the storytelling process.

We are very interested in looking at 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 and our youth growing up today?

It’s so important for every person to see themselves represented on screen in order to feel seen. On the other side, I think it’s important for people to see everyone else represented on screen. I think it can open up your world view and break down stereotypes. It’s so important to have three-dimensional representations of every race, gender, and sexual orientation on screen. It breaks down barriers and preconceived notions. It allows young people to feel seen and heard. It shows them that their identity is valid and valued. I think it’s also so important to have this representation off-screen so that these stories are being told authentically in the way they are being written and presented. We need representation in all departments across the board. I think this will open up conversation for young people. It will allow for people to not be afraid of people from different cultures or backgrounds. We will have more access to each other and a deeper understanding of each other. If we can see each other as three-dimensional human beings we are building compassion for each other instead of fear. It will open up conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation and wage disparity. It will remove this barrier of fear and shame that colors so many interactions. I think this is so crucial moving forward.

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

Honestly, I was very lucky to be surrounded by amazing people that gave me very sound advice as I was going to the beginnings of my career. So these are the 5 things that I think have turned out to be the most helpful pieces of advice. My teacher Rob really dug into me about my tendency to self-sabotage. He pointed out that I would make excuses like “oh I wasn’t feeling well for that audition” or “I didn’t have time to fully learn the lines” and that I used that as an excuse to soften the blow for myself mentally if I didn’t get a role I really wanted. And he sat me down and said, “you’re too good for that. Stop. Who cares if you do your best and you don’t get the role. At least you did work your proud of. Stop making excuses for yourself. Give it your all and see what happens”. I’m really so thankful for that. I think so many artists have this tendency and it’s not helpful at all. The next I would say is to just not take anything personally. Being lucky enough to be on the casting side of things, I see how often people come in and do a great job but they’re just not right for the role. It’s not personal, it doesn’t mean they aren’t talented, or that the people who saw their audition didn’t love them. You have to learn to forget about the auditions after you do them and not take it so personally if it doesn’t go your way because it will cripple you if you let every lost role eat a hole in your confidence. I was told to really appreciate the people that work behind the camera and to learn as much from them as possible. I am so thankful for that. I shadowed for three days on V-Wars. I learned from the camera operators, DP, writers, showrunners, directors, everyone. It’s incredible how much work goes into making a show and how skilled all of those people are. I learned so much from them over those three days, I have so much respect for what they all do and learning about what goes on behind the camera has made me a stronger actor and easier to work with on set. I really recommend educating yourself about the other aspects of filmmaking. I had an acting coach tell me that the more well rounded I was as a person, the more well rounded I would be as an artist. I think so many people forget about that. They allow themselves to become consumed in the pursuit of their career. But living a full life, developing other skills, traveling and seeing the world, falling in love, having experiences, all of that makes you a fuller person and gives you so much more to draw on as an artist. It’s so crucial. My father always told me from a young age, to surround myself with good people. He told me not to care about if people were famous or rich or anything like that but to surround myself with good decent people who worked hard and had kind hearts. I think especially in our industry people can get so caught up and find themselves surrounded with people for the wrong reasons. The truth is, it’s a long road. You need to be surrounded by people who will be there through the ups and the downs, who believe in you and want to see you succeed, who will challenge you and help you grow. I’m so fortunate to have such incredible loving people in my life and I think that it’s so important to be aware of who you spend your time with and you allow to permeate your mind.

Can you share with our readers any self care 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.

I actually have an autoimmune disease so I have to really pay attention to my body and make sure I’m being kind to it so that I can continue to work and put it through long days on set. I have my medications that I take for my illness of course, but I see a chiropractor/acupuncturist every couple of weeks. My fiancé is so wonderful and makes sure I take Epsom salt baths a couple of times a week and treats me to a massage. I wear blue light glasses for the hour or two before bed to help my mind settle down so that I can sleep. I love to read to unwind. I journal and meditate. I try to stay active and work out regularly to keep my joints loose. For me, it’s really about checking in with my body and my emotions to see what I need and trying to honor that and be kind to myself.

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

So many times throughout my life this has changed. Currently, this is my favorite.

“The best gift I’ve ever gotten, I’ve gotten every day of my life, and that’s waking up. I love waking up, I’m a morning, afternoon, and evening person. There are two small words that are the most important words in the English language: over and next. If there were a hammock in the middle between over and next, that would be living in the moment. Waking up in the morning is the next moment. The next moment to me is the taste of coffee.” — Norman Lear.

This has been such a powerful one for me that I keep going back to recently. I tend to get caught up. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I find myself not enjoying what is right in front of me. There is so much beauty in the world and in my life. I have so much to be grateful for. I think often today many of us forget what’s right in front of us for mistakes in the past or worries for the future and it can become all-consuming. This to me is such a beautiful reminder of how simple it can be to just be present with yourself in the moment and how powerful that can be. It is a healing and freeing thing.

You are a person of huge 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?

I mean, that’s a loaded question. Honestly, I don’t feel that I’m educated enough yet on the issues that are affecting our world to inspire a movement like that. I’m working toward that. I’m trying to become educated in everything I can to be a socially responsible citizen. I think at the base of it, I would say compassion and forgiveness could create so much positive change is we could inspire that within people globally. We need to have a desire to work to understand each other and have compassion for each other. I think this wave of “cancel culture” is damaging because it doesn’t allow for someone to accept responsibility and grow. If we create a world where when you make a mistake there is no redemption from that, it’s only going to encourage people to try and cover up their mistakes. I think we as a society need to move towards allowing space for forgiveness, compassion, growth, and education. We have so much to learn from each other. It’s okay to say “I don’t know about that, teach me”. It’s okay to make mistakes and grow from them We need to hold compassion in our hearts for each other and allow room for us all to grow in order to move forward as a society. That’s about all I can muster right now. Hopefully one day I’ll have learned more and been able to offer something more concrete.

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!

There are so many people I admire and look up too but I don’t necessarily think I would want to meet them. I think there’s something to be said for not meeting your hero’s honestly. That being said, I would so love to meet Taylor Swift. I really have so much respect for her as an artist and a woman. I look up to her in a lot of ways. I would be so thrilled to meet her. Her and Brendon Urie. I saw him live and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance like that in my life. He is such an incredible talent. He just oozes love for what he does. I think that’s so inspiring. So those two, I would be so thrilled to meet them one day.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes, I am! I’m on Instagram @sydneymeyer48 and on twitter @meyers48

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

So lovely chatting with you. Thank you for the thoughtful questions 🙂

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