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Supporter Spotlight: Actors Workshops Canada

It was supposed to be a one-time thing.

Almost five years ago, Michael Lazarovitch, along with a few fellow actors, decided to host an intensive session for “some friends who weren’t in the L.A. market.” The group rented a room, brought an executive from ABC down to Toronto, held a masterclass and donated proceeds from the class to The AFC.

Soon after the event, Lazarovitch says he was flooded with emails and phone calls from other actors, local casting directors and unions all asking when the next masterclass would be.

And thus Actors Workshops Canada (AWC) was born.

Since then, AWC has expanded to Vancouver, Montreal and will soon be in Calgary. While the organization has grown, it has remained committed to its mandate of providing intimate hands-on training for Canadian talent with leaders in the US entertainment industry – including casting directors and executives – and creating a sense of community. It has also remained committed to supporting The AFC.

“It’s about building a bridge,” says Lazarovitch about AWC. “Canada is known as a real hub of talent and we want to get people access to work on their craft and flex their muscles as an actor (with American casting directors, producers and executives) so that they can use this as a litmus test for their work. So that they can realize what’s important about their work, what they have control over and what really matters and discard all of the stuff that they’ve picked up that gets in the way of doing good work.”

The feedback that AWC receives from participants would seem to indicate that the masterclasses work.

“The masterclass series in my opinion is incredible!” says actress Aadila Dosani, who is also involved in organizing the classes. “It provides a really collaborative, supportive and open platform for actors to really see into what this industry is like – no filter!”

“I’ve noticed that the masterclass really helps us artists breakdown what we can and cannot control. I have seen how it really helps participants take a step back and start to separate their creative self and start developing a business self … and just look at things from a completely different perspective,” Dosani adds.

That process not only helps actors with their craft, but also creates a sense of community, Lazarovitch says.

“There hasn’t been one masterclass, in any city we’ve done, where people haven’t left feeling like they’ve gained 20 to 25 allies, as opposed to sitting in a room full of actors feeling like it’s 20 to 25 competitors.”

Leanne Khol Young agrees.

The actress started out attending the workshops and now helps organize the ones in Vancouver.

“It was such a wonderful community that was being built and I really wanted to play a role in developing that,” she says of why she came on board.

The organization’s support of The AFC also drew her in, she says.

“One of the reasons why I decided to plug in to the workshops was because there was a charitable component. You make a difference in someone’s life through The AFC.”

Lazarovitch says support for The AFC “just made sense.”

“The AFC for me is the face of the community helping each other,” he says. “It is a conduit for us to all help other actors who we may never meet or people that are behind the camera or writers or casting directors who we might never come into contact with, but who are in the same precarious situation sometimes as a self-employed artist.”

The AFC is grateful for AWC’s generosity and looks forward to a continued partnership as AWC expands into new cities.

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