Ivana Shein is a born performer and an outstanding addition to the ever growing roster of the world’s great talents. As the daughter of Canadian Playwright and Humorist Brian Shein, she had a strong inclination to the arts even at a very young age. Her favorite activities were acting, writing, and performing while growing up in Toronto, Canada.
On a mere whim, Ivana auditioned for the reality TV show “Sketch Troop” (Canada’s version of Last Comic Standing), and surfaced as one of the top contestants in 2003. Widely considered as one of Canada’s funniest, she went on to perform at the prestigious “Just For Laughs Festival” in Montreal, making her an instant star.
To further develop her budding career, she entered the Playwriting Program at The National Theatre School of Canada. Shortly thereafter, she earned her first feature film role, in Lucky McKee’s “The Woods”, playing a young Patricia Clarkson. At present, she is a member in good standing of The White Buffalo Theatre Company in Los Angeles, headed by artistic director Kerrie Keane.
She has played many roles in different TV series and programs. Most recent being: “The Touch (2012)”, where she played Emily; the 2012 Til Death episode of the hit series, “Person of Interest”, where she took on the role of Sabrina’s assistant; “Draculette (2012)”, playing the part of Victoria; episode 1 of “Days of Our Lives (2012)” as Nurse Sarah; two episode of the series “The Division (2012) ” playing the part of Michelle Trever and; the 2010 short film, “ Off The Grid ” as Kara Rush.
Between 2003 and 2010, Ivana played various parts in other screen programs including : “Barney’s Version (2010), “Road to the Altar (2009)”, “Wedding for One (2008)”, the TV series “ Valentine” in 2008, “Breakdown (2006)”, Clara Thompson in “The Woods (2006)“, Jill in “Steel Toes (2006), the short film “ Edmund “ in 2004 as Kate Logan, and as Betty in “Perfect Timing (2003)”.
This July, Ivana’s own “Faking It” will premiere at the prestigious and star-filled “Just for Laughs Comedy Festival” in Montreal.
The absolutely beautiful, talented and comedic genius that is Ivana Shein graced The Levity Ball by answering a few questions allowing us and our readers to get to know her better.
So you grew up in Toronto, what is the best part of having grown up in Toronto?
“The neighborhoods! Toronto is such a multi cultural city that our classrooms often looked like UN conventions. I think that was the best part. You never had to leave the neighborhood to travel. And then of course when I got older, nothing beats a beer on a patio in little Italy, or Kensington market.”
Your dad is Brian Shein. I understand that he is a playwright, what was it like growing up?
“From a very young age, (like 5 years old) he would take me to rehearsals, or when he wrote for Toronto Life, I would go with him on his assignments. He would always ask me what the best word was. We would spend hours searching for the right word to describe something.”
What was your experience with the Canadian TV show Sketch Troop like?
“It was really fun. It was amazing to be in an environment where I got to write and act in my own stuff, and other people’s stuff. I love the guys I worked with. It was a reality tv show, and I’m afraid we all got along way too well to satisfy the medium.”
Can you tell us about the Just for Laughs Festival and your experience there?
“I was so humbled to be there! I was with my friends from Sketch Troop, and we got really into it. There are like these white vans there that just wait to drive you from party to party. I remember walking into this one party at like 3 am and every funny person I love, was just dancing, and jumping up and down, and I could barely deal with how happy I was. And then when you got back to the hotel it was all about drawing the shades and keeping sunlight very far away. And the audiences are just so happy, there’s really this vibe of a festival there.”
Knowing what you now know, what advice would you have given yourself if you could go back to your start?
“Worry less about what shoes to wear. And maybe take yourself a tad less seriously; it’s only life after all. Oh and invest in Skype, or in Ashton Kutcher. He’s a company isn’t he? Can I buy stock in him?”
Can you talk to us about what it was like starring as Patricia Clarkson in Lucky McKee’s, The Woods?
“Lucky gave me my first break. He is one of my favorite directors and human beings. I loved working with him. He has this attention to detail that is like working with a painter. I would go to set when I wasn’t working and watch Patricia work. She is one beautiful and talented woman, and she was very kind to me on set.”
You have been called one of Canada’s funniest comedic talents, where would you say that your comedic talent comes from and why?
“Did my mom say that? Maybe I’m one of Canada’s angriest talents. I think that’s where it all comes from. I’ve always been that way. I love making fun of society, or things that we are supposed to do, ways that we are supposed to behave. I can kind of slip into the background and observe, then I like to write about what I see.”
You are now starring in Faking It, how is that going and do you fake it?
“I love working with my director Brian Finkelstein. He has done a lot with the Moth, and I am learning a ton from him. And yeah so much of my life is faking it. I like that I am making fun of myself so much in this show.”
How does Faking It really reflect your life’s experiences?
“I think the things we want so badly, that we try so hard for, I mean obsess over, and plan over, are actually pretty funny. Do any of us really come close to the thing we want? Or is there a moment where you just give up, and fake it, so you can at least fake get what you want?”
What do you feel are the biggest differences between acting in Canada and acting in the U.S.?
“I had to go to New York (I was lucky enough to study at The NYSF Public Theatre). I found acting is really physical in the US. And in Canada there is a generosity of spirit with the other actors that is really attractive to me. Also I did a little thing on Person of Interest, and there was this homeless dude outside the trailers who ate at crafty every day, he had charisma. Americans have charisma. And Canadians have this really specific sense of humor, a sort of invisible step son type of humor.”
If at all possible, do yourself a favor. SEE FAKING IT! For info and Tickets: JUST FOR LAUGHS