Canada has many talented actors, writers, directors, and other content creators. To help our industry grow, we would like to introduce you to some of those talented folks that have managed to capture that magic on screen.
This week we spoke with Vancouver film and Television performer and Rock Star Lee Tomaschefski.
You may be familiar with Lee Tomaschefski as the Nurse in Sucker Punch, Gina in The Power, or as the lead vocalist and front woman for Falling For Scarlet.
HNMAG: Where did you grow up?
Lee Tomaschefski: Saskatchewan.
HNMAG: Where in Saskatchewan?
Lee Tomaschefski: A small town outside of Regina.
HNMAG: I once stayed in a hotel with a waterslide right near the University of Regina.
Lee Tomaschefski: Oh year, U of R. It’s right on the ring road.
HNMAG: Did you go there?
Lee Tomaschefski: I did not. I wanted to be an actress since I was four years old. As soon as I graduated High school, I immediately moved to Vancouver to pursue music and film. I’ve been in film since I was fifteen.
HNMAG: How did you start working in Regina in film at the age of fifteen?
Lee Tomaschefski: I was in a Movie of the Week called It Starts With Us that was made in Saskatchewan. It was a Canadian production about teenagers getting in trouble with alcohol. A coming of age story and I had a small role.
HNMAG: How did you land up getting a part in that movie?
Lee Tomaschefski: My agency at the time suggested I audition and I booked the role. That small role made me hungry for more. The industry was only getting started in Saskatchewan so I decided to move somewhere it was already established. I went west as Vancouver’s film industry was booming and it was green year-round and warmer than Toronto, so that was more appealing.
HNMAG: How was that move?
Lee Tomaschefski: It was such a culture shock, I moved from a sleepy little town to a very metropolitan and energetic city. I arrived with just thirty dollars in the bank. I crashed on a futon in a friend’s living room and then lived in my car for a short time till I could get more established. I got a job, new agency, headshots and learned the ropes of audition in this type of market. My first professional booking here was in a music video for Theory of a Deadman. It was one of my favourite jobs. I got to drive this slick Boss 302 Mustang. Hung out with the band, who was really down to earth and I was treated like a movie star. The song was Nothing Comes Between Us.
HNMAG: Were you performing music at that time as well?
Lee Tomaschefski: Yes I was performing locally a girl band and found myself on national tv on a Canadian reality TV show that created an all-girl music group. I made top 10 in Toronto and unfortunately was sent home when I didn’t make the band. After that I moved to China to work sing an 8 piece cover band.
HNMAG: What happened after that?
Lee Tomaschefski: I ended up coming home early from China because my Chinese management took my passport. I camped outside the Canadian consulate for three days just to get it back, then proceeded to bus over 10 hours across mainland China to fly home. When I got back to Canada, I realized I don’t want to sing cover songs and started my band Assuming Artemis.
HNMAG: Was it hard to start a new rock band?
Lee Tomaschefski: It wasn’t difficult putting the band together but it was difficult keeping it together. It’s expensive and doesn’t happen overnight.
HNMAG: You’re the lead vocalist. Do you play any other instruments?
Lee Tomaschefski: I play guitar and I recently picked up drums so I can easily communicate what I hear in my head. It’s easier to explain to another musician what you’re hearing when you understand the instrument.
HNMAG: Your band Falling For Scarlet has been around for over ten years. Why did you make that change?
Lee Tomaschefski: I changed the name because someone recommended choosing something that was easier to interpret.
HNMAG: I don’t know who Artemis is. For me, it’s not about making sense but comprehension.
Lee Tomaschefski: Artemis was the Greek Goddess of the hunt. Protector of the weak and of the moon. She was a skilled archer and I’m into archery, so she always spoke to me. I called the new band “Falling for Scarlet” from my experience of almost dying of scarlet fever as a child, the new name was preferred by others so we kept it. With a new name and members we were able to jump on a USA tour produced by Razor Magazine supporting American band “Fly Leaf” on the 2015 “The Hottest Chicks in Rock & Roll”.
HNMAG: What acting parts continue to keep you hungry for more in Film and Television?
Lee Tomaschefski: I got a small part playing opposite Jon Hamm in Sucker Punch, which was directed by Zack Snyder. This really opened up my eyes to see what’s possible in the industry. Seeing things go from the green screen to the movie screen really captivated me. I had a reoccurring part as a baddie-stripper with a heart on the Canadian TV show Blackstone. I was in the first season, killed in the second season, and brought back from the dead in the third season. But recently I was able to check off two things from my acting “bucket list”, when I booked the role of Gina in the Amazon Prime tv series “The Power” starring two individuals I’ve dreamed of working with; Tony Collette and John Leguizamo. I was honestly surprised I even booked the role but it was truly incredible to see professionals at their level, working. I have never been more hungry in my life.
HNMAG: What have you been working on recently?
Lee Tomaschefski: Though I am a professional actress, I have been working full-time in film behind the camera in various departments to pay the bills. Sometimes I’m in an office in a support role and other times I day call as a stand-in, photo double, special skills, voice over…well you get it. The hustle is real but not only does it keep a roof over my head but it also keeps me in an industry I love.
HNMAG: With the union strikes in the United States, we are not seeing the productions coming up here right now. Is there an opportunity for us to make our own Canadian productions?
Lee Tomaschefski: The current situation is unnerving to say the least. One decision could change our industries landscape for better or for worse. This is not lost on me but I do feel that there is an opportunity or silver lining for us creators if we look for it. I think we have the unique opportunity to create our own projects and pursue other endeavours in and out of the industry, whilst still defending fairness and equality. I remember reading once that Uber and Airbnb were founded during the last financial crisis in the States. So perhaps some good could come from this, who knows?
I always joke that my superhero trait is that I am like a cockroach (trust me, many try to correct me), I can survive anything, so its kinda like I was tempered for this. I will be challenging myself to create projects of my own with this downtime and try not to let the lack of work get in my head. I recommend that for all of us, create!
Lee Tomaschefski is a passionate and driven performer. She studied at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts in London. She’s also a professional singer, songwriter and has many incredible talents. Even though she has experienced success, she has also struggled, then persevered. The music and film industries are both very challenging and arbitrary. Even the most talented and beautiful don’t always become instant stars. It’s not a meritocracy. One characteristic that often does win in the end is determination. In Vancouver, there has been a lot of work on Hollywood productions. With both the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America on strike, that work has dried up. It takes someone like Lee Tomaschefski to face this challenge and perhaps lead the way for Canada.