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This article was published 24/11/2010 (3624 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Lisa Durupt nearly skipped her initial audition three years ago for the Winnipeg-based television show Less Than Kind.
Thankfully for her and fans of the hit HBO Canada series she didn’t.
In fact, her decision to attend that audition led to the St. Vital product ultimately landing the role of Shandra on the Gemini Award-winning comedy, and snagging a recent Gemini nomination for her own work this year.
But the 29-year-old admits that a decade ago, the idea of rubbing elbow with Canada’s television elite was the farthest thing from her mind.
That’s because Durupt was a latecomer to the acting game.
In fact, for most of her life, her stage was the hockey rink. Durupt had scored an athletic scholarship to an American college when her shoulder started giving her trouble about 10 years ago.
She decided to take a year off to recover, but says she knew her love affair with the game was over.
That’s when Durupt discovered a passion for acting, especially after seeing a production of the musical A Chorus Line.
"It just looked like so much fun and also so much work," she recalled.
Durupt threw herself into acting, at first on the theatre stage but later in film and television.
She trained with Onalee Ames, of Onalee Ames Film Studio on Corydon Avenue, who said Durupt was her most ambitious student.
Ames added she believes the love of competition that propelled Durupt so far in her hockey career has also worked in her favour as an actor.
"Making it in the film industry is like winning an Olympic medal. There’s no difference. You have to get up every day, and you have to slog, and you have to go to class to train. She was extremely dedicated," said Ames, adding that her success with Less Than Kind is hardly surprising.
"There were so many things in place for her to do well."
Less Than Kind focuses on the Blecher family which runs a driving school in Winnipeg’s North End.
The series is loosely based on a play written by Winnipeg’s Marvin Kaye, who loosely based that play on his own experiences.
Kaye teamed up with Chris Sheasgreen to develop the play into a television series, and the whole production team got a big shot in the arm when Mark McKinney — of Kids In The Hall fame — joined on.
Durupt said she was drawn to her character because most comedic roles for females rely on cliches — but not Shandra.
"She is every (female comedic actor’s) dream to play," she said.
Having the show based in Winnipeg also allows the rest of Canada to see how diverse the city really is, she added.
"I think a lot of time people hear Winnipeg and they think Winterpeg," she said.
Filming of the third season of the series recently began, and Durupt said the Gemini the show picked up on Nov. 13 for Best Comedy Program or Series has lifted everyone’s spirits — especially following the death of character actor Maury Chaykin this summer. Chaykin played the patriarch on Less Than Kind.
She added that she didn’t mind her loss in the Best Individual Performance in a Comedy Program or Series category, especially since the award went to cast mate Benjamin Arthur, who plays her boyfriend on the show.
Wendel Meldrum — who plays the Blecher matriarch — was also nominated in the category, but Durupt said they were all expecting the award to go to funnyman Rick Mercer.
"We said, as long as someone from the show wins, we’ll be happy," Durupt said.
Viewers can catch Less Than Kind on HBO Canada and its sister station Movie Central, as well as Shaw on Demand.
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