Aug 10, 2018
By Tammy Cummins and James Oloo
We caught up with Michael David Jenkins, a former client of the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment. Michael, who is originally from the Prince Albert Area, worked closely with Tammy Cummins, an Employment Counsellor at the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment – the Métis Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement holder for Saskatchewan. Michael lives in Toronto where he works as an actor.
Michael is affiliated with Colin McMurray & Associates, a Toronto talent agency that represents actors, singers and dancers for film, television, voice-over, theatre and commercials.
Before he contacted the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment, Michael had a job, but felt that he wanted a career. “I was working at a bar in my hometown when I first started to think about a career in the entertainment industry,” he said. “However, living in Saskatchewan, I didn’t think that this would ever be possible due to limited opportunities and a lack of resources.” But that did not stop Michael from pursuing his dreams. “I scouted a few schools on the internet and came across Toronto Film School. Immediately I began to look for ways to get out to Toronto. That is when a friend recommended I go and talk to Tammy Cummins at GDI. I did, and everything got better from that day.”
But Michael felt a bit of apprehension at the thought of seeking help at GDI Training & Employment. “I was hesitant that someone I had never met before would be so eager to help me get on the road to my dream. But Tammy had such a good feel to her. I could tell she meant well, and was only interested in my well-being. I could see that she wanted me to be successful as much I wanted to be successful.” He continued, “Tammy was on my side 100%, she would do follow-up calls to make sure everything was going smoothly, and if I had a question or concern she returned my calls, and email immediately.”·
When asked about his typical day as an actor, Michael stated that “As an actor, I have to be available at the drop of a hat to get to an audition that my agent sends me. I have to know my lines, know my character, sometimes go as far as learn a dialect in a couple hours.” And, “after the audition happens, I wait to hear if I receive a call back. When a call back happens, I receive new information which needs to be learned in a very little amount of time. Once a job is booked, I show up to set on a determined day with lines memorized, character built, and costumes fitted. I sit in ‘holding’ until the director tells the second Assistant Director that they are ready for me. From there, I show up to set, hit my mark, know my lines and make the director’s job as easy and not complex as possible. I return to ‘holding’ and wait for them to tell me whether or not I am wrapped for the day.”
There are key lessons that Michael learned at the Film School that helps him in his day to day work. “How to deal with rejection was a very important lesson.” He noted that “Being an actor is very difficult because you are going to audition a lot. The going rate is 10 auditions may lead to one booking; which is a great ratio when you are living in it. But it can be daunting to someone who is not in the industry. My acting coaches didn’t just give me acting pointers, they gave me a lot of self-confidence that didn’t just help me in the acting community; but continues to be useful in day to day life. I think this is probably the most valuable part of the schooling I received.”
Michael discussed the aspect of his acting career that he likes the most: “I like that my job doesn’t feel like work. There is so much I can do to create work for myself. For instance, last summer I wasn’t booking anything, so I reached out to a local bar and told them I wanted to host a show.” He continues, “They were ecstatic to have the opportunity to bring in an improv show. I got four of my friends, and together, we threw a show in two week. It was an absolute blast performing for a room full of people. The bar covered our expenses and I paid my actor friends for their time.” Michael stated that, “The whole thing sounds like a lot of work, and yes it was difficult at times. But in the end it came together so beautifully that I can’t help but want to do it again and again.”
We asked Michael to describe the secret of his success in a few words. His answer was, “Schedule, budget, and enjoy. School does not take long to complete. So you may as well enjoy the chaos while you can.”
Michael reiterated his message of thanks to Gabriel Dumont Institute. “GDI was the only way I was able to complete school and keep my focus 100% on my studies. Because of the support from GDI, I did not have to worry about juggling part time jobs while in school for the 18 months. I was able to complete my schooling with a 98% overall average, graduate at the top of my class with distinction. I owe my highest level of thanks to Gabriel Dumont Institute.”