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No trick, all treat

High-spirited Winnipeg-born actress is having a blast in Vancouver as the star of a new Teletoon series

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For Tracy Spiridakos, the process of being scared silly turned out to be a lot more silly than scary.

"It was so much fun to do," said the Winnipeg-born star of the rookie Teletoon series Majority Rules, which airs the first half of its two-part Halloween special this Thursday at 10:30 p.m.

"They had a fog machine there, and the lights in the room were a lot brighter than usual, but then when you looked at it from the camera angle, it was really dark and dimly lit. It was really cool to see the way they put (the Halloween special) all together."

In Majority Rules, Spiridakos plays 15-year-old Becky Richards, an average, skateboard-loving teen who unexpectedly becomes mayor of her hometown of Mayfield. With the support of her parents and a close-knit crew of friends, she struggles to perform her decidedly adult duties without losing her youthful idealism.

"She grows in many ways," Spiridakos says of her character. "She expects that she can get things done just because she's the mayor, but then she realizes she can't. She learns to multi-task, which is something that all teenagers face because we have so much going on our lives, and she goes from being a mess who's overwhelmed by all this stuff to being a confident person who knows she can do it."

In the two-part Halloween special (which concludes next week), Becky and her pals are faced with the unnerving possibility that City Hall may be haunted by the ghost of the town's founding father, Mayor Mayfield. Armed with a few techno-toys and as much courage as they can muster, the gang embarks on an after-hours exploration of the stately structure that turns up more yelp-inducing frights than actual ghostly facts.

"There definitely was a lot of screaming," Spiridakos said with a laugh.

Majority Rules represents a major leap forward for Spiridakos's acting career. After moving to Vancouver 21/2 years ago, the locally trained performer has continued to take acting classes and audition relentlessly, landing guest roles in such TV titles as Supernatural, The Bionic Woman, The L Word and the recently completed TV movie Goblin.

The Teletoon series, which employs a clever blend of live-action and animated elements, is Spiridakos's first starring role. It a big step for her, and an equally huge deal for her family and friends back in Winnipeg.

"My parents own a restaurant, Olympia Diner, and every Thursday is Majority Rules night at Olympia," she laughed. "My dad and mom and all their friends get together and watch the show on the TV screen in the restaurant.

"My immediate and extended family, all my aunts and uncles and cousins, have been amazingly supportive."

Spiridakos, who's in her early 20s but has already adopted the old actors' attitude that exact age should be a closely guarded secret, said she knew very early in life that she wanted to be a performer. She took part in plays and shows through junior high and high school (she attended Oak Park High School), and also took classes at the Actors Training Centre of Manitoba.

"I started training in Winnipeg with a teacher named Jeff Skinner, and he pushed me to work at it more seriously," she recalled. "He thought I could do well at this. So I came out to Vancouver, met with an agent who's also his agent, signed on with her, came back to Winnipeg, saved some money and then packed my bags and came out to Vancouver.

"It was terrifying, but it's been really good so far."

Despite the close-knit nature of Winnipeg's Greek community, Spiridakos said she hasn't yet consulted with the city's other big famous Greek star for career advice.

"I haven't yet, but I think it would be very cool to talk to Nia (Vardalos) about it," she said. "I've been writing some stuff, and I thought maybe I'd call her later on to discuss it. But I'm waiting a little bit -- I'm so intimidated by the idea of talking to her, because she's so successful."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

 

Tracy titles:

from Spiridakos's IMDB listing

Supernatural (2007) ... Callie

The Bionic Woman (2007) ... Annie

Web of Desire (2008) ... Megan

Every Second Counts (2008) ... Girl #1

The Secret Lives of Second Wives (2008) ... Meredith

The L Word (2009) ... Pretty Young Woman

Goblin (2010) ... Nikki

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 20, 2009 C1

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