“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon
When my parents got together close to 30+ years ago and decided to start a family, they figured they would have 3 kids and a dog and live relatively close to where they grew up. They thought that my dad would work his way up in the bank and my siblings, Rover, and I would have a grand old time doing the typical going to school, little league hockey, “growing up” thing. After moving twice, my father took on different roles at a couple of different companies before starting his own business, and 5 kids later if you were to ask my parents what happened to their life plan, they would tell you that they wouldn’t have changed a thing. Don’t get me wrong here, plans and goals are important, and dreams are the lifeblood of passion and motivation; however, there is something to be said for being open to the adventure that is life and the twists and turns it takes us on. We’re all going to end up where we’re supposed to be. The joy, the passion, and the living is found in the journey.
So, why am I telling you this? If you had told me when I was 10 that through pursuing my passions in music that I would also work with my siblings writing blogs, songs, and screenplays, that I would get to tour with them, watch them pursue their dreams, and that as a result, I would be interviewing my brother as the lead of a brand-new CBC Gem show called ‘The Communist’s Daughter’, then I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Looking back, I also wouldn’t have changed a thing!
Ryan Taerk grew up in Toronto Canada and since he was old enough to talk, he was either planning, directing, and/or starring in a playroom production at our family home. Ryan has always had an incredible imagination and to him, the entire world was a stage. Ryan would turn family outings into daring quests to save the beautiful princess (our baby sister Sari), spy missions to save the planet from near destruction, and he would always do it with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. As he grew up, Ryan kept that childlike glee surrounding performance and grouped it with a fascination in people. What motivated people to behave in certain ways, walk, talk, be the way they are? That wonderment and joy around character development took him through many auditions and roles throughout the years leading to his first lead role in a TV series on CBC Gem. It sounds funny to say that I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Ryan about his role on his new show, especially while we have all been bubbled during lockdown. I will say that I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to introduce you all to an artist and person (in the following interview) that I love very much.
Ryan thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and talk about acting and your new TV show. To start things off, can you tell us a bit about The Communist’s Daughter and your character on the show?
First of all, thank you for having me Josh. This is so cool that we get to do this together and I’d love to tell you and your readers about the show. ‘The Communist’s Daughter’ is a comedy about a family of communists that move back to their old neighbourhood and try to acclimate to their community. Hilarity ensues when the father of the family, Ian McDougald, tells his kids that he is running for City Council as an “independent” (Read: communist). The show follows the kids’ struggles with finding the balance between being loyal to their family and wanting to have a normal North American high school experience.
I played Boris McDougald. I love my character so much. He is sort of the rogue one of the family. He is a true capitalist at heart which causes a lot of friction and comedy between him, his family, and their communist views. My character is definitely the type of person that would find a way to strike a deal in any scenario. A very enterprising young man, a young Gordon Gekko if you will.
I could definitely see the comedy in that scenario, and that character sounds like so much fun to play. What was your favourite thing about playing that character?
My favourite thing about playing Boris was the level of innocence and intelligence that this young man had. I loved that he had the mindset of a 40-year-old Wall Street executive, but at the same time, struggled with nerves in striking up a conversation with his crush. I have always loved family comedies and getting to play a character that’s a part of the central family was so exciting. I feel like Boris specifically learned the importance of family while growing into the man that he truly wanted to be, and certainly has a lot more to learn.
So how do you get prepared to take in a character and become a character in a situation like this? Are you aware of the fact that you’re playing a character while it’s happening, or do you completely go into a first-person perspective of that character and then come back to Ryan afterward?
I, personally, start by learning about who the character is specifically, so I start I start to develop their thoughts, understand their feelings, and see how their thoughts and feelings influence the way they physically hold themselves. Once I understand who the person is, I learn about where my character fits in the overall story. It’s an interesting journey. When I’m on set, before and after the scene, I am completely myself. As soon as action is called, then I as the actor feel myself pause real life and jump into my character’s real life. Staying fully present as your character is the thing that will keep them alive. All that’s important at that moment is letting the character speak, move, think, and feel. I hope I haven’t bored you with my acting process (laughs).
(laughs) Not at all! Your character development process is fascinating. There seems to be a lot of psychology involved in the way that you bring these characters to life. Do you think psychology would have been something you would’ve been interested in if you didn’t become an actor?
Possibly! I honestly love people and I love learning about the reasons why people make certain choices in their lives. I am a very big believer in mindfulness in my current life, so I’m not sure when I was younger, I had the maturity to think of it as a career, as much as it was a helpful tool for me in my personal life. I am the type that loves sitting down with another person and asking them questions because I love learning about what inspires someone, what motivates them, and understanding the connections that happen in their brain. So, yeah! You could call me a low-key psychology buff if you want to be so kind! (laughs).
So in that case, if you had to pick something else to dedicate your life to other than acting what would it be?
I would want to do something that helped make an impact on other people’s lives. I would want to work for a charity or a foundation and help raise awareness and funds for a cause. I, personally, love helping to empower people, specifically kids, and teaching the importance of loving and respecting the people in our local community as well as in our global community.
That is a very moving and profound way of being Ryan.
Thank you. Spreading love and helping your “neighbour” is a driving force in my life.
Alright, lightning round. You ready?
What is the scariest thing that you have ever done? And how did you feel after?
Bungee jumping! The joke of that experience was that it was my idea to do it even though I was petrified. When we got there, I got so scared but knew that I’d be so upset at myself if I didn’t go through with it. I got to see both you and Dad go first, and watching those jumps freaked me out! On top of watching that, the wait time until it was my turn added extra anxiety to the experience. When it was actually time to take that leap, I remember feeling like I was putting my life in the hands of the experts, and I felt like I became super religious in that moment. I started praying to God to keep me safe, but to enjoy the experience. Then I took the leap of faith. Super proud that I did.
What is your favourite movie and why?
To pick a favourite movie is like picking your favourite child in my opinion. It’s incredibly difficult to do. Right now, my favourite movie is ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. I love it because of the nature of the story. It touched on brotherhood, friendship, and love all surrounded by one of the greatest money heists in cinematic history. I don’t agree with stealing, but do I wish that I was a part of the eleven guys that robbed Terry Benedict.
What is your favourite meal and what does it remind you of?
My favourite meal is a sushi dinner. When I was a kid, I shied away from sushi. Eating raw fish was like torture for me, but as I got older, for some reason I fell in love. Before lockdowns and quarantining, I loved going out to discover, no matter what city I was in, who had the best sushi.
(laughs) If you could witness any moment in history what would it be?
I’m a big history buff. So I have a list of moments in history where I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall and experience it. If I had to choose one it would probably be at the height of Camelot in North America in the 1960s. I have always been a fan of the history of Hollywood and North American society during the decade, so I would have loved to have experienced it.
Is there anything that you would want our readers to know about you?
I am a big believer in family being at the forefront of everything I do. I feel like people experience wonderful things in their lives but getting to experience them with your loved ones makes it even better. I am so grateful that I am a part of a really big family, and not only do I have close relationships with my siblings, but I also get to work with them on various projects. I’ve loved getting to write music with you and Matt, our brother and co-writing partner, and also getting to branch off into the world of developing our own series and other scripted content together. Our creative working relationship is really special, but I appreciate it so much more because we are brothers.
Finally, Ryan, where can we go to keep up with all of the stuff that you are doing?
You can find me on social media. I am on Instagram and Twitter. I love getting to interact with people that resonate with the various projects that I am very lucky to have been a part of. If you are interested in watching The Communist’s Daughter, you can stream the entire season on CBC Gem in Canada. It will be released to other markets shortly.
Watch the trailer for The Communist’s Daughter: