Stage fright and shyness were simply obstacles to overcome for a young Sarah Desjardins keen on pursuing acting. Fast forward from school plays and musicals and Sarah has now starred in half a dozen TV movies and had guest spots on Vancouver television productions like Wayward Pines and Supernatural.
Now she plays Maddy on the third season of the teen science comedy Project MC2 which streams on Netflix. The Daytime Emmy-nominated series centres around a group of science and tech savvy teens turned spies to save the day. Sarah Desjardins also plays the recurring role of Catherine in Syfy’s re-imagined Van Helsing – the 13-episode first season was filmed around Metro Vancouver earlier this year and is renewed for a second season.
How did you first discover acting and what did you do to pursue it?
I discovered acting when I was six years old. I was watching television with my mom and my little six year old brain had a realization that what I was seeing on TV was a job I wanted. From that moment, I always wanted to be an actress. I got braces when I was 12 which put things on hold, but I took part in all the plays and musicals in high school and once the braces were off, I got my head shots done and found myself an agent. I’ve been working my hardest ever since!
— Sarah Desjardins (@SarahDesjardins) October 29, 2016
What is it like to be able to work on projects at home in Vancouver’s film and television industry?
When people ask me about acting I can’t go without saying how lucky I am that I grew up in Vancouver. I am so fortunate I didn’t have to move anywhere to fulfill my dream. Business here is booming at the moment. On top of that we’re our own film family. I love coming onto a new set and seeing a handful or more of actors and crew I’ve already worked with. Being able to stay where I am most comfortable and have so many opportunities available to me is a huge blessing.
Project MC2 and Van Helsing differ greatly in genre and roles, what’s it like to play a range of characters?
They’re quite different and I am so happy about that! Recently I’ve started getting jobs that are all over the map genre and personality wise. I love it! It’s nice to go into work on Van Helsing one day, where I lose my mind and go crazy and on the next, give my best Jane Bond while empowering girls with science and technology on Project MC2. Playing a range of different characters is all I can ask for as an actor. It’s incredibly fulfilling and fun!
Do you share any traits with your characters?
I think a sliver of yourself always makes its way into the character because that’s what makes your take on them original.
Catherine on Van Helsing for example is very guarded and protective. She’s very maternal towards Callie the younger girl in her group and when Callie’s safety is threatened, Catherine snaps. I too am extremely protective of the people I care about, not to mention a very emotional person. Tapping into Catherine’s crazy side was very liberating.
Maddy on Project MC2 and I are similar in the sense that we want to lift up and inspire our younger sibling. We’d do anything for them and we just want to see them succeed. That’s all Maddy wants for McKeyla and same goes for me with my younger brother.
Were you a science-fiction and vampire fan when you joined the cast of Van Helsing?
I definitely had my Twilight phase as a preteen. However I am not surprisingly a fan of shows such as The Walking Dead and Van Helsing definitely lends itself to a similar vibe. I was excited to work on something that had some grit and to collaborate with Simon Barry and Neil LaBute.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I love going to the movie theatre. It’s a bit of a problem. I believe my record is seeing nine films in one week. I’ve more recently been dipping my toes into photography as well. I have so many gorgeous people in my life that I’ve persuaded into letting me take their photograph. I’ve been improving a lot and it’s another creative outlet.
Advice for aspiring actors?
Work hard and keep going no matter what. It’s so easy to become discouraged because we are constantly faced with rejection but that’s just the way it is. As long as you remain focused and give it your all, it will pay off in the end. Believe in yourself and your talents will be appreciated by the right people.
Interview by Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch