Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
I like seeing that sense of joy and passion in kids’ hearts
A couple weeks ago I was sent to go and take photos of someone who dresses up as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Elmo for birthday parties. I wasn't sure what to expect from the person behind the mask and I honestly wasn't expecting to meet someone with so much passion for the job.
I met Gregory Marrast at the Cube in Old Market Square and every time he changed into a new costume he became the character. As Spider-Man he didn't walk: he crouched on the ground, jumped up onto a picnic table, then leapt back to the ground. All the while strutting and making witty comments. He probably had his photo taken with a half dozen people before we were finished with the Spidey costume.
By the time we got to the final costume, Elmo, I was convinced this guy could play any character. Elmo was the icing on the cake though: this time, he changed his voice as well as his body language. I couldn't keep from smiling and I wasn't the only one. People in passing cars were honking their horns and shouting, "I love you Elmo!"
After he changed back into his street clothes I asked Gregory if I could have a little chat with him.
What is your greatest struggle right now?
Right now, as an actor, I think it's finding opportunities in this city. Just because Winnipeg is such a hard place to break through in terms of actually becoming a success. I have a bachelors of arts in theatre and film at the University of Winnipeg, but so far the most jobs that has gotten me is a job at a shoe store downtown.
It's kind of a struggle, opportunities come and go, you have to audition a lot. You've got to put yourself out there, but what I have found with what I am doing right now, is that I'm kind of creating opportunities for myself.
What about doing this makes you happy?
I just like seeing that smile on kids' faces and it doesn't matter what I'm doing, whether I'm Spider-Man or another superhero or I'm Michael Jackson, I'm just coming up to them and smiling at them or giving them a sticker or just taking a picture with them, I'm making their day. I like seeing that sense of joy and passion in kids' hearts when they see someone that they admire. I never got that opportunity when I was younger.
Do you have a story of a particular moment while doing this that you remember that has stuck with you?
One birthday party I did, I was in my Spider-Man costume, and a little girl had fallen off a slide and she was hurt and crying. I was just like, "Oh no! Spider-Man is going to fix this!" I ran into the house and the mom handed me a Spider-Man ice pack and I ran to her. I put the ice pack on her head and I said, "It's ok, Spider-Man's got you." She looked up at me and said, "Thank you Spider-Man, you saved me." That kind of stuck with me more than anything else I've done, just because that little girl just really believed with all her heart that I was the hero that I was presenting myself to be. Even though I'm just a guy in a costume. I honestly felt like a superhero in that moment, just because I had saved her in that instance.
Have you ever gotten to that point where it is the complete opposite, you're like "OMG! What am I doing?"
Where I have doubts about this? No. I've never had a doubt about doing this. Acting and theatre, I've always just known it's a passion of mine and I've never wanted to not do it.
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About Mike Deal
After freelancing for the Winnipeg Free Press for three years, starting in 1997, Mike Deal landed a part-time job as a night photodesk editor.
His first day in the new position was supposed to be September 12, 2001. But when he woke to the news of the two towers on September 11, he automatically headed into the newsroom.
For the next few years, he split his hours at the Winnipeg Free Press between photo editing and photography. In 2008, Mike was hired full-time as a photojournalist.
Mike’s training includes a journalism diploma from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. He also spent time at the University of Manitoba, working at the Manitoban and the U of M photo club and taking fine art courses.
Having also just finished shooting a personal project that involved taking 2,013 portraits using just his iPhone in the year 2013, he looks forward to taking the portrait project concept to another level. He will NOT be shooting 2,014 in 2014! Don't be surprised if he stops you in the street and demands a moment of your time. You have been warned!
Another personal passion of his is street photography, capturing the people of Winnipeg amongst the beautiful architecture of its downtown.
In his off-hours Mike enjoys taking photos with his iPhone, walks in Assiniboine Forest, and spending his free time with his partner Ariel and daughter Anna.
"I go to the street for the education of my eye and for the sustenance that the eye needs - the hungry eye, and my eye is hungry." -Walker Evans
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