Sara Canning was born on July 14, 1987, in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. She is an actress and producer, known for The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017), Van Helsing (2016-2019), A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2017), War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) and Remedy (2014).
1.For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Sara Canning and I’m a Canadian actor.
2. How did you become involved in the entertainment industry?
I did theatre all through junior high and high school and moved to Vancouver to go to film school when I was 19. From there I got an agent and hit the ground running, fortunately.
3. Of the roles that you played, who was your favorite to portray and why?
I’ve loved so many roles I’ve played, but the role of Mel in the series Remedy stands out in my mind. It was so challenging to play a high strung surgeon, in all the best ways. And I loved the whole team who worked on that show.
4. Did you know what impact your character Jenna on Vampire Diaries would have on your career?
Booking The Vampire Diaries was a whirlwind. I’d had a couple of scenes in the pilot, and then all of a sudden I was moving to Atlanta to shoot the series. It still makes me smile when people look at me and say “…Aunt Jenna?” It’s nice that the role has had a lasting impact,
5. What do you love most about your job as an artist?
I would have a different life entirely if I weren’t an artist. Every aspect of my life is entwined with being an artist. It affects how I think, how I love, how I interact with people, my idea of the future. I love that being an artist means I am on a lifelong mission to connect with
6. If you weren’t an actress, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t an actor, I would be a writer. I know this because I write a lot in my spare time. So I suppose I’m both, actually. I have a lot of hypothetical side projects percolating with friends, from a Newfoundland road trip cookbook to an eccentric café to an art farm commune.
7. What did you enjoy most about working on “A Series Of Unfortunate Events”? Were you a fan of the books?
I loved being in A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s such a wild, imaginative show. I read the books once I’d been cast – my character was actually more of a creation for the show than featured in the books. I studied old noir films for inspiration. I think that was my favorite part
– attempting to give a nod to iconic noir performances while trying to get the very specific tone of the show just right.
8. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
I don’t think of my life in terms of accomplishments. I am working hard to find balance in all things. So you might have to ask me that question again fifty years down the road.
9. What kind of roles do you prefer when you are looking at a potential character to portray?
I think the easiest way to define what I look for in a character, in any genre, is conflict. Flaws. A chance to examine something about the human condition and the fact that we’re all flailing around, trying to figure out this thing called life. That can be present in both drama and comedy and everything in between.
10. Do you have a secret talent?
My secret talent is that I can parallel park on a dime.
11. Who are some artists that inspire you and why?
Patti Smith is such an inspiration to me. I love her writing. She is the true embodiment of a curious, lifelong artist to me. Also my friend and mentor, Andrew McIlroy. Even though I’ve loved being an actor since I was a kid, he helped me understand why I wanted to be an actor.
12. Do you have any advice to aspiring actors who want to get started in the industry?
My advice to aspiring actors is to find a way to become obsessed with the process. Watch everything, read everything, go to plays. Take class. Find fulfillment in the act of acting, rather than booking jobs, because it can feel like a ruthless industry. There absolutely needs to be enjoyment just for the sake of doing it.
13. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring more awareness to in the future?
Equality, human rights, women’s rights, and care for the planet are all causes that I’ve invested myself in. In my creative community, I think Project Limelight and Fulfilling Young Artists (for which I’m a mentor this year) are doing amazing things in the way of helping youth and young adults develop creative agency and a supported, safe space to do so.
14. What do you have in mind for the future?
.I’ve been doing a lot of work around staying mindful and really focusing on the present. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that the choices I make now will shape it.
15. Who are some actors that you would love to work with on a project?
I like to be open to and surprised by everyone I get to work with. I think, both as an actor and a fledgling director, I have a wish list of filmmakers I would love to work with – people like Sarah Polley, Jean-Marc Vallée, and the Coen Brothers
16. Do you have anything to say to the people that support you?
My gratitude to people who support and encourage me in the life I’ve chosen is infinite. Supporting someone’s wildest dreams is a very generous act of love.
Thank you so much to Sara for agreeing to the interview. You can find her and her work on: