Close-up: An Interview with Sara Waisglass

SARA Waisglass is one of the stars of Mary Goes Round, a touching film about family and addiction set to screen at the Canada Now film festival next month.

Close-up Culture are delighted to welcome the gifted actor and aspiring screenwriter onto the site to talk about her role in the film, her chemistry with Aya Cash and her love for Canadian film.

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Q: You play Robyn in Molly McGlynn’s touching film Mary Goes Round. What did you enjoy about playing this character and did you relate to her in any way?

A: ROBYN is a complex character. What you see on the outside is different from what Is going on the inside. I think that is what makes her so real.

I liked playing Robyn because it gave me a chance to do some serious character work. Molly helped me with this. We did interviews beforehand, trying to figure out what Robyn’s point of view would be on different things. I had songs to help me get a better idea of who she was. She is a very layered character, she is not that one dimensional teen character you see too much on screen today.

I think everyone can relate to Robyn. She has to keep her head up despite the hardships she deals with and she goes out of her way to present herself as perfect because she is scared of being rejected.

Who is not terrified of rejection? I sure am. But Robyn overcomes that and I think a piece of me did too. Robyn holds a special place in my heart.

Q: One of the highlights of the film is the relationship between Robyn and Mary (Aya Cash). Can you talk about working with Aya and how you created this chemistry?

A: I DID not meet Aya prior to filming so we really were strangers to each other when the cameras started rolling that first day. I think that played into the chemistry quite nicely because the characters are feeling each other out and we were definitely doing that too.

As the film progresses, they let each other in. I think Mary is on the outside what Robyn feels she is on the inside, and I think that is part of the reason they grow so close.

Similarly, Aya is everything I want to be. She is brave, outspoken and she is not afraid to take up the room. I love that. We need more women like her on screen. Strong female representation is so important.

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Aya Cash, John Ralston and Sara Waisglass in Mary Goes Round

Q: There is a really strong female presence on the film with yourself, Molly, Aya and Melanie Nicholls-King. Was that part of the appeal of this project?

A: OF course. First of all, I get excited anytime I get to audition for a film that is written and directed by the same person. I find when this happens, the vision is so clear and crisp that it lights up the screen with an authentic sparkle that you do not come across often. So when I learned it was written and directed by Molly, I was sold. No one writes women like women.

On a personal note, I think the experience of working with Aya and Molly so closely really changed the way I looked at myself. As women, we are taught to be smaller than men and to swallow our words if they do not please everyone – at least this is what I grew up believing.

Aya and Molly yanked this philosophy right out of me. When I saw how unapologetic they were about being strong and powerful and the results they got because of it, I realized how much we are capable of. I am never shrinking myself to please anyone ever again.

Also, and this needs to be said, Melanie Nicholls-King is untouchable. I did not get to work with her as much as I got to work with Molly and Aya, but Melanie is a powerhouse of talent, humor and pure heart. I have never seen anyone work as naturally and humbly as she did. Every move she makes on screen drips with gold. She is ridiculously impressive and I wish everyone the opportunity to see her work up close like I did.

Q: You recently tweeted about a screenplay you are writing. Can you tell us anything about it and any aspirations you may have as a storyteller?

A: MY friend and I, we are kind of writing partners. We do not write together but we write beside each other. She was telling me she could not wait to actually get her pilot produced and I was like: “Oh right, that is the goal”. I always forget. I write for fun most of the time, so when she said that I realized maybe I should try to write something I would want to make. That is the feature I am writing right now.

It is a coming of age film about two kids that have been forced into adulthood a bit too quick. Together they learn how to be kids again. It has got a lot of me in it, which is probably why it is so hard to write. How do you come up with an ending for a story you have not finished yet?

I do not have any solid plans writing wise. I just want to tell stories. Words have always moved me and now I want to move people with mine.

Q: What did you learn from working with writer-director Molly McGlynn?

A: MOLLY is the perfect mentor. Watching her on set is fascinating because she is kind and grateful, but she is also a boss when she has to be.

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Sara with John Ralston and Molly McGlynn at TIFF

I learned a lot from her, but I think the most important thing I have learned is to keep going. She did not get to where she is by sheer luck. That woman works harder than most people give her credit for. She puts her heart and soul into everything which takes a sincere amount of strength. She is an immense talent and I just feel so lucky to have worked closely with her.

Q: Mary Goes Round will be shown across the UK as part Canada Now Film Festival. Do you have any favourite Canadian films or Canadian performers?

A: WOOHOO! Words cannot express how proud I am. It is unfortunate that Canadian films have a tough time reaching the limelight because I think most of the stories we tell are pretty unbelievable. Maybe I am biased because I live here, but Canada is THE BEST.

I do have a favorite Canadian film. Vincenzo Natali’s Cube (1997) which I watched with my class in grade nine. It scared us all to death. Production wise, their budget was under $400,000 – they used just one location and they only had seven characters. Crazy.

Whenever I think something is impossible, I just think of that film and I change my mind.

As for Canadian performers, there are so many. Kiefer Sutherland, Rachel McAdams, Jim Carrey and Jay Baruchel. I’m adding Melanie Nicholls-King to the list now because like I said, she is unbelievable.

Q: You have done a lot of TV work in your career – The Good Doctor, Suits, Degrassi, and Overruled – and now this wonderful film. What is next for you?

A: I HAVE no idea. I think that is a good thing though. I am young, I have got so much time. The plan is to make the plan as I go.

As an actor, I have no idea what opportunities will come my way and as a writer I am still trying to find my voice. But as a human person, I know I have to keep working hard. So that is what I am going to do.

You can watch Sara in Mary Goes Round as part of the Canada Now film festival. Click for more info.