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A ukelele and a dream

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Though she loves to travel and see the world, Brooke Palsson will always come back to Winnipeg.

Why? It’s home.

Sitting in a Main Street coffee shop window, Palsson, 20, looks anxious but comfortable in her skin. This was not always the case. Bullying and "catty girls" plagued her in school.

Even after returning at 15 to Vincent Massey Collegiate from filming HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind in Toronto, a dramatic comedy about a Jewish family in Winnipeg, she was tormented.

"I hadn’t been at school for about three months because I was filming and I came back from school and she just slapped me. Right across the face," said Palsson. "I just started to get tears in my eyes and (she) just laughed at me to my face, said ‘hey, bye,’ and just walked away."

"That’s what high school was kind of like for me, a lot of mean girls," said Palsson. "But I had a lot of good friends."

Palsson, who grew up in Whyte Ridge, turned her troubles in school into motivation to succeed.

"I think one of the things that kept me going through high school, and this probably isn’t a good thing, is that I hope I make it someday so the people who were rude to me (can) see," said Palsson.

"That was just one of my drives. It’s unfortunate, but it pushed me."

Palsson has now been pushed into the music industry. Though she has always played, it was not until recently that it started to move in fast forward. First she sang on Less Than Kind.
"Artsy people are kind of misfits," said Palsson. Less Than Kind really gave me a world I felt I was a part of. It gave me the confidence to pursue my music which I’d been writing for a while already."

She later sang on CTV’s Flashpoint, performing My Heart has Wings by Aengus Finnan.
"The amount of messages I’ve had, through email or Facebook from people I’m not friends with, of people saying how much that song meant to them, it’s just insane and I didn’t expect that," she said.

Palsson recently performed at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival with Keith and Renée. to a sold-out crowd on June 18 at Cinematheque. It was her first big performance.

"This was my first big show, especially in the city," said Palsson. "I’ve had family come out to events but it was cool to see some of my friends there and see some people who I’ve never seen before. So it went really well."

At the Jazz Fest she played with a full band, but usually she plays with just with her ukulele.
Palsson, who plays classical piano, found writing songs on the piano made her music come out wrong. Plus she’d never heard of anyone make a career on the ukulele

"I feel like I compare myself to the greats," said Palsson. "And there wasn’t anyone too great on the ukulele aside from Tiny Tim. So I felt confident on my choice, had a hundred bucks on me that day, so I had enough to go by Long & McQuade and pick up a ukulele."  
Palsson ended up writing her first song on her new ukulele in three days and she knew she had the right fit.

"For some reason whenever I wrote songs on the piano they came across very bubble-gummy," said Palsson. "Then, for some reason, everything that I wanted to portray came across exactly how I wanted it to on the ukulele."

As for the future, Palsson isn’t done with acting. She will be attending the Canadian Film Centre’s Actors Conservatory, of which Kiefer Sutherland is the founding chair, in Toronto for six months of additional training.

If acting or music doesn’t work out for Palsson, she plans on travelling the world and going to school for makeup and special effects.

"Growing up in the film industry I always found that part super interesting and (I was) always asking questions," said Palsson. "So I think for some reason makeup and special effects are super fun. I love Halloween."

When it comes down to it, she’ll always be strumming on her ukulele.
"Music has always been, in an ideal world, in my dream world, it’s what I’d be doing," she said.
Twitter: @SouwesterWPG

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