After graduating from a prestigious drama school in the United States, a young Kelowna woman is busy pursuing her acting career in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in Kelowna, Tessa Pihl, 20, attended St. Michaels University School in Victoria for her Grade 11 and Grade 12 years.
An accomplished ballet dancer, Pihl chose to pursue her love of the arts by auditioning for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
“It turned out I was just as passionate about acting as I was about dancing, and I am able to incorporate dancing into acting,” said Pihl.
Pihl was one of about 220 students accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, which she attended in New York City for one year.
“I love being able to channel a piece of myself into another character,” she said. “I love being able to get into someone else’s shoes. It’s so much fun to think from another person’s perspective.”
After the first year of school, Pihl was called back for the second year, which she chose to complete at the Los Angeles campus.
“I was more interested in film than theatre, so I transferred to L.A.,” she said. “I learned a lot about acting and also about being able to pursue a career in the arts on your own. It’s all self-driven, and you have to keep yourself motivated.”
Pihl graduated from the academy last May.
“My favourite part was meeting a lot of people who shared the same interests as me and being able to work with different people,” she said. “It’s a great networking experience.”
Since graduating, Pihl has been working steadily in the industry.
“As soon as I graduated, I went straight into film,” she said.
Pihl has appeared in several short films and music videos in leading and supporting roles.
She also played a supporting role in a feature film that was shot in Italy over Christmas and will be shooting another three short films this month.
“I would love to do more feature films in the future,” she said. “That’s my main goal.”
Throughout her experience in the industry, Pihl has learned the importance of staying positive and working hard.
“It’s hard sometimes when you don’t get a job for a couple of weeks, but I think it’s just important to accept that something is going to come your way, and you just have to be patient and keep working really hard,” she said. “You have to learn not to take those things personally.”
The experience has been worth every second of it so far, she said.
“When I’m on set or when I’m doing a project and something just clicks, there’s nothing like it; it’s such a passion for me,” said Pihl. “It’s the same with dance; whenever I’m doing a dance routine and I feel everything fall into place, there’s nothing like it. I’ve never been happier.”