News & Events
Supporter Spotlight: Jillian Cook
Actor Jillian Cook has had a long career in the Canadian entertainment industry, with 12 seasons at Shaw under her belt and numerous TV and film appearances.
“I am grateful for where I am at this point and that I can still do what I love doing,” she says.
The British-born actor immigrated to Canada in 1969 with plans to eventually move to the U.S.
“I was fascinated with New York, but it was more straightforward to come to Canada because being part of the Commonwealth, I could get a work visa.”
She arrived in a political climate that was friendly to the arts, with several new theatres popping up in Toronto.
“It was a really interesting time,” she says.
Almost 50 years later, Toronto is still home.
While Cook didn’t end up living in New York, she did spend some time in the U.S., in California.
“When I left the Shaw Festival in 2004, I had already made a decision that I wanted to pursue another career or another aspect of myself, so I went down to California and took a yoga teacher training course there.”
In 2005, Cook became a registered yoga teacher and currently balances that with acting.
“I remember when I came back (to Toronto), I thought ‘What do I do? Am I just going to hand in my union card and not act anymore?’ and then my friend said to me ‘Why can’t you do both?’ ”
Having done both for years, Cook says yoga and acting actually complement each other.
“I feel fortunate to be able to do the two things,” she says. “A lot of what I use as an instructor in yoga and in my own practice, I can apply to acting. Plus, it keeps me healthy and flexible, physically and mentally.”
Cook has been a longtime supporter of The AFC. She first started contributing to The AFC through payroll donations at Shaw.
In 2007, after a health scare, she turned to The AFC for help.
“It was when I was making my transition and trying to balance two work-related things and I needed to take a bit of time off and focus on my health for a few months,” Cook recalls. “I was worried about being off work and a friend suggested that I call The AFC.”
Cook says she hesitated at first, but when she made the call, she was assured that The AFC was there for situations like hers.
“I was really appreciative and that actually spurred me to recommend The AFC to an actor friend of mine who was going through a similar thing,” she says.
“You would be surprised at how many people have approached The AFC and been welcomed,” Cook remembers telling her friend, who was also hesitant about asking for help. “Because it’s actually only when you go through your own experience with The AFC and you talk to others in the community about it, that you realize how many people have also received help.
“It’s a helping hand and it’s community too,” Cook adds. “In a way, I feel empowered by it because The AFC is not just one person; it is a whole collection of people within the industry. Not just actors.”
Cook says she donates to other organizations, but The AFC feels special.
“I feel like I have done my bit. Like I can stand up and be representative of an industry that I love,” she says. “That by contributing to The AFC, I am contributing to the industry’s health and welfare, as The AFC is beneficial to so many people.”
The AFC is extremely grateful for Jillian Cook’s ongoing support.