I recently had the very distinct pleasure of talking to a young rising star, actress Kaitlyn Bernard. She plays a young cancer stricken teen, Abigail in the new film, The Healer.
I’ve not yet seen the film, but I have seen a previous impressive performance from Kaitlyn in the film, Cadence. It was a stellar performance that would the best of actors. For a young performer, her passion and respect for acting shines through. However, it’s not just her acting that has grabbed my attention regarding the film, The Healer, it’s what she chose to do after the wrap of the film.
Kaitlyn Bernard was so impacted by portraying the role of Abigail that once she was finished the film, she was moved to help make a difference for other cancer victims. She founded an initiative entitled, Just Breathe. So far, her foundation has already raised close to forty thousand dollars. She has secured sponsorship from both corporate and personal fundraising.
The funds raised, help to provide families with children living with cancer, free lodgings at Camp Goodtimes. The camp is located at Loon Lake in Maple Ridge. It allows families with children a safe and supportive environment where kids can be kids and families that have been through the ringer can share their experiences with other families going through similar struggles. There is strength in numbers and I believe Kaitlyn has shown incredible insight for taking up the gauntlet. The director of the film, Paco Arango has been an advocate for helping kids living with cancer in Spain. He is donating a large part of the proceeds from the film to Paul Newman’s camp for seriously ill children. Having spent much time with Paco and learning more about children living with cancer was the catalyst in Kaitlyn’s decision to make a difference.
I applaud her incredible initiative and admire her dedication to put the needs of others before her own. To me, that will always score high marks and earn much respect. I can only hope that others will follow her lead and see the positive impact that compassion and consideration can make. Kaitlyn Bernard is hosting a Just Breathe Kick-Off and Private Screening in support of Camp Goodtimes at Vancity Theatre on Nov. 24 from 2:00 till 9:00 pm.
In the film, The Healer, it follows a man that is unaware that he possesses the power of healing. In the midst of his struggle to comprehend his new reality, a teenager with cancer will show him the way.
“This is a difficult role to play for a young actor. How did you prepare yourself to better understand the character?”
“It was an emotionally difficult role to play. As an actor, you have to be able to portray complex characters. I love what I do, but this role changed my life. I travelled to Halifax and met with Abigail’s mom. We looked through photos and she told me stories about Abigail’s incredible strength. In life, Abigail chose to focus on living and had a fascinating sense of humor. She was very private about her cancer and hid the fact that she was so sick. She would never feel sorry for herself and cherished every day, every moment. She passed away at the age of eighteen. It was important for me to represent her courage and incredible spirit.”
On a personal note, as I spoke to Kaitlyn and attempted to peel back layers of Abigail’s illness, she expressed to me that it was still emotionally difficult to discuss. I respected her position and adjusted my questions to avoid any further distress.
Kaitlyn Bernard is a teenager with a lengthy resume. She began her acting career at the age of five in theatre. At ten, she was a supporting actress on TV. Her current pursuits involve playing complex characters that require her to challenge herself as an actress. Being able to draw out real emotion and engage your audience is a rare talent. Certainly every actor strives to accomplish this. Those that can do it convincingly have put in the work and dedication required to portray unique characters. Without believable characters, it’s difficult to embrace the story. Kaitlyn Bernard is in my impression, already an accomplished actor with a bright future in feature film. Unfortunately, we may not be able to keep her here forever. She has expressed her desire to move to LA someday for the weather, the beaches and the work. Given my indulgence for sunny weather, I can’t really blame her.