As Toronto’s entertainment scene expands, the Canadian city has become an excellent place to pursue big acting dreams. For those looking to make it in Hollywood North, we reached out to industry pros for expert advice. Here, they share insights on the Toronto entertainment industry and offer tips for actors seeking a career in the region.
Attend acting training in Toronto
Even if you possess innate talent, Omari Newton, head of acting for film and TV at Vancouver Film School, says “securing roles in any competitive acting scene requires a strategic approach. Firstly, [you should] invest in ongoing training and refine your craft through regular acting classes and workshops. We also advise that actors enter the industry with a strong acting foundation and knowledge base by enrolling in an intensive program Iike the ones offered at Vancouver Film School.”
Toronto boasts numerous acting schools and studios, including
- Alza Acting Studio
- Armstrong Acting Studios
- Cindy Tanas Actors Studio
- EVN Film & Television Studios
- Milne Acting Studio
- Miriam Laurence Studio
- Toronto Film School
Grow your network and forge meaningful connections
“Networking is a cornerstone of success in the entertainment industry,” says Newton, and Toronto is no exception. “Networking isn’t just about seeking opportunities—it’s also about offering value and building genuine relationships that can propel your career forward.”
Here’s how to start off on the right track:
- Attend industry events and film festivals such as the renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Consider signing up for a TIFF membership to gain access to more events and hobnob with other film enthusiasts at the TIFF lounge.
- Get involved in local theater productions to foster connections with fellow actors, producers, and casting directors. Joining the Community Theatre GTA group is a good place to start.
- Build an online presence. Leveraging online platforms such as Backstage, LinkedIn, IMDb, and Toronto-specific support groups such as Actors Helping Actors can connect actors with professionals in the Toronto entertainment scene.
- Become a member of actors’ associations such as ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) and CAEA (Canadian Actors’ Equity Association).
How to find acting jobs in Toronto
Persistence and diligence always pay off in the acting world, so it’s important to meticulously follow the directions provided in each casting call you apply to. In general, creating a professional headshot, demo reel, and portfolio will help advance your career. These tools are your calling card and provide casting directors with a glimpse of your talent and versatility. You can also create a profile on Backstage and upload your headshots and résumés there. This will make it easier for you to find audition opportunities and apply for casting calls.
Look through Backstage’s Toronto casting call page. Actors should also follow the top casting directors in the area. Some popular Toronto-based CDs to know are:
- Lisa Parasyn Casting (“Schitt’s Creek,” “Defiance”)
- Dayton Walters Casting (“Hairspray” theater)
- Stephanie Gorin Casting (“Saw” franchise, “Fargo” TV series)
- Millie Tom Casting (“The Incredible Hulk”)
In addition to Backstage, bookmark these pages as resources for actors in Toronto:
Finding representation is “a pivotal factor in any actor’s career,” says Newton. When searching for the right agent, he advises actors to seek someone who is “based out of and specializes in the market you hope to break into first.”
Since streaming services have increased the demand for content from across the globe, successful agents no longer reside solely in L.A. “A good analogy would be looking at the real estate industry,” Newton says. “If you are looking to buy a place in New York, logic would dictate that you find a realtor based in New York. The top agent in L.A. may be great in their market but less equipped to serve your needs if you live across the country.”
Kate Taurina, head of B2B at Allcasting.com, agrees that seeking representation is an important stepping stone for actors. However, she advises new actors to take careful consideration when deciding between local representation in Toronto and exploring representation opportunities elsewhere. “A local agent possesses an in-depth knowledge of the regional entertainment industry, knows the key industry players and available roles, and is accessible for in-person meetings,” she says.
On the other hand, choosing representation in a major entertainment hub can offer advantages such as more audition opportunities and access to industry professionals. “Ultimately, the decision between choosing a local [agent] or seeking opportunities elsewhere depends on your career goals, flexibility, and personal circumstances,” Taurina adds.
Toronto’s acting market is a dynamic and attractive industry for aspiring actors. The city’s rich diversity, infrastructure, and commitment to nurturing talent create an environment where new and early-career performers can thrive.
Taurina sees Toronto as a prominent city in the world of screen content creation. Among the top screen-based industries in North America, Toronto has been the backdrop for numerous films, including “Priscilla,” “Shazam!,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Good Will Hunting.” Streaming giants such as Hulu have also recognized the city’s potential, with hits like “The Handmaid’s Tale” filmed in the area.
Newton points out the dynamic growth of the Toronto acting market. Beyond its role as a destination for American productions, Toronto stands as the epicenter of Canada’s vibrant theater scene. Mirvish Productions is the largest commercial theater production company in Canada; it boasts four theaters in Toronto, including the Princess of Wales, which showcase most of the city’s major productions. “With a thriving film and television sector, a rich theater tradition, and a growing demand for diverse talent, Toronto provides a fertile ground for honing your craft and building a multifaceted career,” says Newton.