When you watch a gripping movie, it’s grabbing you because the performance is so powerful – they made you laugh, they made you cry and then they frightened you so badly – you had horrifying dreams that night. We couldn’t feel those emotions if the actor didn’t bring their best, if they didn’t possess their character and every nuance. To be a great actor takes trust in yourself and the story. When those two merge, it’s movie magic and the reason we go to the theatre. I also enjoy the smell of the popcorn, the dimming of the lights, the gradual silence and the sound engulfing me as the opening scene begins and I become invested in the story, the characters… it’s showtime!
I don’t often have the opportunity to meet talented people beyond 2 layers of talent but Sydney Scotia is bringing it from all angles and all ranges. An actor, professional dancer, recording artist, writer and filmmaker. I will admit that my ego became deflated, with my talents being limited to bongos and break dancing. Sydney has been grabbing the bar and using it to smash the ceiling. Born in ‘97’, Sydney has accomplished so much with hard work, dedication, impeccable preparation and attention to detail. I stumbled across a fight demo reel and my jaw dropped as I watched her fly through the air, followed by a backflip and a high kick. It reminded me that Gary down the hall still owes me money…
An award-winning singer, actor, filmmaker and dancer Sydney Scotia’s newest single, Don’t Get So Close – launched on April 22nd. She also has a thriller/action film coming to theatres in June, playing Kevin Dillon’s daughter in the Sean Patrick Flanery film Frank & Penelope.
Sydney’s family is originally from Sydney, Nova Scotia and she grew up in Arizona. Her work took her to Los Angeles and when she landed the leading role as Geneva in Netflix’s ‘Some Assembly Required’ she headed to Vancouver. Sydney also stars in the Crave Original series – Pillowtalk, which came out this year. She’s had starring roles as Coral in Lionsgate’s A Mermaid’s Tale, Tamra in Netflix’s Reboot: Guardian Code and Cassidy Bleu in William Shockley’s Common Threads.
Sydney has directed and produced multiple projects including, This Hits Home; a feature length documentary that reveals the invisible and silent epidemic of permanent traumatic brain injury in women devastated by domestic violence. They’re insights from lawmakers and domestic violence authorities. Together they combine to paint a chilling portrait of brain injury that changes the lives of one in every four women and their children. This Hits Home won the Audience Choice Award at the Boston Film Festival.
Sydney has the music in her that comes out in her award-winning dance and music. Her hit singles, ETA and Burnt Out can be streamed on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud. Her latest single Don’t Get So Close recently came out and she has plans to release new music this summer. https://www.sydneyscotia.com/.
Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away from talking to Sydney and I felt like a better person for it. Interesting, gifted and informed doesn’t seem adequate enough when describing this trailblazer. Superhero powers, tenacity and fortitude are a start. Roll the tape!
HNMAG “In addition to a successful acting career, you’re making the shift into writing and directing your own films. Your first film was Dead End?”
SYDNEY “I made a comedy during peak pandemic times, called Dead End and earlier this year I made another one, called Jane. I’m really excited about it, we just finished it last week and tonight we’re putting the titles in… some VFX and colour correction. That one is 17 minutes long but I had made a feature length documentary as my jump into filmmaking. I just jumped into it and went for it. For some reason, I thought it would be a good intro into filmmaking, since it was non-scripted. However, in some ways it seemed harder because it took me almost 4 years to complete. The story kept expanding and one person would lead to another, which had me flying from Boston to Colorado Springs to New York. One person would connect a dot for me, so I had to keep going – I’d grown so passionate about it. It was the longest film I’ve worked on but I’m writing feature length narrative films now and hopefully the next project will be a feature.”
Dead End is currently causing a buzz in the festivals and I anticipate it growing louder after Sydney releases the other short film, Jane. Later in the year.
HNMAG “You’re also an incredible singer with a new song, Don’t Get So Close that debut on April 22. Is that a message to the guys that might be too aggressive?”
SYDNEY “(Laughing) Not really. It’s really about the games we play in the beginning of a relationship – I want you to like me but I’m playing hard to get, give me your attention but not too much attention because I don’t want you coming on too strong. It’s about the give and take, wanting the mystery but also wanting their attention (laughing). It’s basically a fun flirty dance song. The lyrics go… ‘Don’t get so close but put your name up on it, leave me alone but don’t you lose your focus.”
HNMAG “Is it the younger couples in new relationships you were thinking about, when you wrote it?”
SYDNEY “Yes, but it’s for anybody because it’s a fun song to dance to. The intended goal was to make a fun dance song. I’m a dancer first and grew up competing in dance. With all my music, whenever I go in to record a track, I want to make something that I can dance to. That’s at the core of it but I also have a song coming out on the 27th called Bad Company. That song is all about fake friends, living in LA and going to parties. All of the songs can be put on at a party, a club or wherever you like to dance.”
HNMAG “You also have a film coming out in June, called Frank & Penelope. I’ve seen the trailer and it looks action packed.”
SYDNEY “It was the most fun to make. We were in a small Texas town, about 12 miles from the Mexican border, called Terlingua. When I got out of the airport, they asked me if I needed anything because it was a 4 ½ hour drive to set. There was only 1 grocery store in the town that we found on the last day but it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a set. I absolutely loved the cast and Sean Patrick Flanery was an amazing director. The producers were also top notch and we were like a family in this little town that we had created. It’s a thriller, it has suspense, there’s romance and it has action and blood. There’s everything, packed into one movie. Without giving too much away, it’s about a couple that goes on the run and they end up in a town that they shouldn’t be in. I play a character that gets a flat tire on the side of the road in the wrong side of town. There are some people in town that have gone a little crazy because of the mercury and they’re dangerous.”
HNMAG “Was the town quite welcoming and how long were you filming there?”
SYDNEY “When we were in Terlingua, the people were great. We had many of the local people working on the film. We were there for about a month and then they went to Austin for a couple of weeks to film the rest.”
HNMAG “You’ve lived across the country but started life in Nova Scotia, is that right?”
SYDNEY “I was actually born in the US, so I’m a dual citizen. I go back to Sydney, Nova Scotia to visit my family. I’ve had the opportunity to work in Montreal for a few years as well as living in Vancouver, so I’ve explored a little. I love BC and I’ve decided to move here permanently in 2020. I’ve been back and forth since I was 15 because I was working on the show, Some Assembly Required. I came back for Reboot and fell in love with Vancouver. I love the people and some of my closest friends live here.”
HNMAG “Usually we hear about music artists going to Toronto to pursue their career but you recorded all of your music in BC?’
SYDNEY “I recorded Don’t Get So Close and before that, Burnt Out in Coquitlam but I’m recording new music in Burnaby in June, then back to Echoplant in Coquitlam. I love making music, I want to co-write and record at multiple studios with as many people as possible, to diversify my body of work. I had recorded some of Bad Company in LA before the pandemic, then came back to Vancouver to mix it; I used another location in Vancouver to master it. When it goes through different hands, it ensures that it’ll get done as thoroughly and as complete as possible.”
HNMAG “When you are developing a melody for a new song, would you reach for an instrument – a guitar or piano?”
SYDNEY “It’ll usually start with my guitar – my acoustic or electric. I’ll put some chords down, then come up with a vocal melody after that. But then, there are other times I’m writing notes on my iPhone, on my notes app. and for some reason, the lyrics come easy on planes when I’m travelling to a different city. If I like any of it, I’ll sit down with my guitar or piano and find a vocal melody for it.”
HNMAG “When you’re inspired to write lyrics, is there usually a good message in there/are you trying to impact people?”
SYDNEY “It’s usually based on whatever is happening in my life at the time. With Don’t Get So Close, I’d gone to the studio and Ryan had put together a track. I was in a place where I was feeling super fun, dandy and light, so I would write something to reflect that. In the case of Bad Company, I had gone to a party the night before and had a terrible time – nobody walked me home to ensure I was safe. It felt like none of those people cared. The next morning, I started writing the lyrics (laughing).”
HNMAG “When you write your screenplays, such as Dead End or Jane… is it purely for entertainment?”
SYDNEY “Jane was actually written by a woman, Jovanna Burke in Vancouver. It was something that I had read and was drawn to but with Dead End, it was about a breakup and I’d been going through a breakup at the time. I’d just watched Death At a Funeral, so the film was a combination of comedy from the movie and the comedy of my breakup. I put the two together to tell a story based on my life. They say, write what you know. I definitely write based on what’s happening in my life at the time and what I can relate to.”
You can also catch Sydney on Crave, in the series – Pillow Talk. It’s a sketch comedy based on 4 couples and 2 roommates. It shows the ups and downs, the arguments and the fun times that happen behind closed doors between roommates and relationships. They’re shooting season II and Sydney adds, “It’s a lot of fun. We’ll be shooting in Montreal in September.”
HNMAG “Is there a particular reason why they’re shooting in Montreal?”
SYDNEY “It’s based off the French series Entre Deux Draps (created by Matthieu Pepper and François St-Amant). The show is very successful in Montreal, so they translated the scripts into English for non-French speaking actors. My character is Lidia, who’s a strong woman in her early 20’s and just moved in with her boyfriend. She loves to get a rise out of him by pushing his buttons. She’s very sure of herself, is pansexual and is getting her masters in sexology. She knows who she is and she loves to pick a fight.”
HNMAG “Where can we find all of your music including the new track, Don’t Get So Close?”
SYDNEY “You can find it on Spotify, on iTunes, Amazon and all the platforms.”
If you tried to put Sydney’s talent in a bottle, it would have to be a 5 gallon one. The fact that she is Canadian (yes, also dual citizen) truly warms me. She is one of the country’s finest jewels and she’s putting films on the screen by making them and through her performances. A bright object in the night sky, streaking along to the next location, next set, next character… it’s still a lot of work even if it is the best job in the world!