So what happened? In the 90’s the CBC had the type of quality programing that was on par with the BBC and had the potential to have the same kind of success that British Television is having - with top shows such as Sherlock, Coronation Street and my personal favorite, Downton Abbey.
Remember Road to Avonlea? For seven seasons, I was a dedicated follower of the people in that small Prince Edward Island town. There were tons of shows on TV growing up, but there was something really special about watching a show that took place in Canada. And the cute little blonde haired, feisty Sarah Stanley, I think she did pretty well for herself :). And what about North of 60? I re-watched that recently and couldn’t believe the quality of that show. For six seasons (and five made for tv films) they dealt with intense issues such as Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Poverty, Rape, AIDS, Teen Pregnancy, Mental Illness, Teen Runaways, Suicide, Loss of a Child and also put a real light on the issues facing people in Aboriginal Communities - something I don’t think many Canadians had a good grasp on at the time (or still do for that matter). And even while dealing with difficult subject matter they were able to create fun, likable characters with entertaining story lines.
Again, what happened? One word: Funding. Millions of dollars in Government funding has been cut from CBC programing and millions more are set to be cut in the near future. Now I’m not one to get too serious or political (especially in my blog) but I truly believe that keeping Canadian programing on air is vitally important to our industry.
We have such insane talent in this country and every time I see my fellow actors (as well as writers, producers, directors, etc) run for the border as quick as they can, it makes me a little bit sad. We should be doing everything we can to keep the talent here and create the type of programming that can cross boarders and be successful in markets outside of Canada. It is possible! We’ve seen it already with the CTV show “Flashpoint” which was purchased by CBS and aired on their station during the summer, Global's “Rookie Blue” which was bought by ABC and continues to run on their network as summer programming and CBC’s Heartland which is a huge hit with teen’s south of the border.
I am SO proud to be Canadian. And of course I would love to book a lead role in a JJ Abrams feature or be a Series Regular on a major US TV show, but no matter where my career takes me and what I do with it, I will always be a Canadian Actor and will always want to be part of our industry. I hope that I can make a difference and have an impact here at home.