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Exclusive Interview: Tammy Gillis – Ghosts, Mermaids and Fixer Uppers, Oh My!

Tammy Gillis is one incredibly busy actor! She has a recurring role as Jane in the new television series Ghost Wars on the Syfy network. Her character, Jane, is a female LAMDA mercenary who searches with Maria (Miranda Edwards) and Daphne (Carmel Amit) for a missing patient. She stars alongside Avan Jogia, Vincent D’Onofrio, Meat Loaf, Kim Coates and Kandyse McClure. She is also currently filming the new Freeform original drama Siren, which is slated for release in 2018. In her recurring role, Tammy plays Deputy Marissa Staub.

Juggling her super busy schedule, at the same time Tammy is also filming a supporting lead on the third instalment of the Fixer Upper Mystery movie franchise premiering on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. And if that isn’t enough, Tammy is nominated for a UBCP/ACTRA Award for Best Actress for her starring role in the Award winning feature film Menorca. The UBCP Awards are being celebrated in Vancouver on November 18, 2017.

She is having an exciting year, having won three “Best Actress” awards at the Noida International Film Festival in Delhi India, the Solaris Film Festival-17 in Nice France and the Black Sea Film Festival in Romania for her performance in Menorca. She also earned a 2017 Leo Award nomination for “Best Lead Performance in a Motion Picture” for her captivating performance. Tammy plays a hedonistic soccer mom who indulges in her fantasy world, breaking away entirely from her family and life of motherhood.

Talented, smart and beautiful, Tammy grew up in Manitoba, acting from a young age, playing a variety of roles on the stage. After high school, she went on to study at the University of Manitoba, where she was discovered by a modeling scout and cast in both a series of commercials for Greenkids and the award- winning short film The Heart of the World, directed by one of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers Guy Maddin.

Divvying up her time among Canada and Los Angeles, Tammy is an extraordinary performer who brings years of entertainment industry experience to the table. A well respected member of the community, she serves as a jury member for the Canadian Screen Awards and also volunteers as a mentor in the Women In Film & Television actor- mentorship program.

Tammy is an all around amazing, gracious woman and a pleasure to interview.

First, I have to ask, how do you do it?! Your work line up has been incredible this year, and it looks like 2018 will be busy too. How do you you juggle it all?

It has been amazing!! Thank you. I love my job so if we can make it happen, we do!! I am very fortunate to have an incredible team and family supporting me and we work together to make it work.

Let’s talk about your role in Ghost Wars. What can you tell us about Jane and the series?

I can’t say much about Jane yet other than she is first appearing in episode 9!! Jane is a female LAMDA mercenary who searches with Maria (Miranda Edwards) and Daphne (Carmel Amit) for a missing patient. Ghost Wars stars Avan Jogia, Vincent D’Onofrio, Meat Loaf, Kim Coates and Kandyse McClure. Evil ghostly spirits caught between our world and the next make their presence known in the little town of Port Moore, Alaska. Unable to travel to the beyond, they are determined to build their ghostly force of evil. Roman Mercer, a town outcast with unique powers, decides to fight back. I’ve really fallen in love with the show. Every episode has me on pins and needles!!

It is currently airing on Syfy network in the USA and will be on Netflix in Canada in 2018. I can say that it was one of the most fun shows I have ever worked on. As an actor, I did a ton of things that were super fun and totally outside my comfort zone. I really looked forward to going to set every day and having the opportunity to work with such incredible talents as Vincent D’Onofrio, Meat Loaf and Kim Coates, as well as actors that I have known and respected for years. I have known Simon Barry – creator, show runner, executive producer – for a number of years and have previously worked on his show Continuum. I also had the opportunity to work with Dennis Heaton – executive producer and writer – on a couple of shows in Vancouver, Motive and jPod. They are incredible people and I would literally work with them on anything!

I’m excited about Siren, coming to Freeform in 2018. Mermaids! Tell us a little more about the show and your role!

I am so excited about Siren! Such a cool concept. Mermaids!! I play Deputy Marissa Staub. That is literally all I can say about it. It is premiering on March 29 on Freeform. It has been a really incredible experience working on the show, we’ve really come together as a family – on and off screen. The trailer is so compelling, it does a great job of showing the mystery of the show and the mermaids are amazing!

Have you read any of the books the Fixer Upper Mysteries are based on?

I haven’t but after being a part of the third instalment of the Fixer Upper Mysteries, I’m really intrigued with it and am going to pick up one or two!

You are nominated for a UBCP (Union of British Columbia Performers) Award for Best Actress for your role in the feature film Menorca! Congratulations! Tell us about the film and what made it special to you?

Thank you so much. It really has been an incredible journey with the film. It was a role that really challenged and scared me so I am incredibly happy that people are enjoying my performance. The film is a bit of a weird and dark journey about a woman, a mother who is incredibly unhappy in her life and she takes off on a journey of self-discovery. Her son “fires” her as his mom and she realizes how important he is to her and she tries to figure out a way to win him back. It was special to me because it’s a brave story about this woman who is trying to figure out a way to survive, to feel alive again. It’s unlike anything I’ve done so it was exciting to be challenged as an actor and to work with the director/writer John Barnard again after more than 10 years. I’m happy to say that the film has been screened all around the world and can currently be seen on iTunes and Netflix.

You seem to do a lot of genre work (fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural). What draws you to these types of projects and parts?

I love it! I really enjoy playing characters that I haven’t played before and the genre world really explores more of that. I am a huge nerd so there is always so much on those projects that is super cool to me. Some of the behind the scenes stuff on Siren is amazing!

You have been in many, many TV series. Do you have a favorite part or working experience?

I really love what I do so every experience is generally amazing and I find that I always learn something new. I’m always interested in learning more and more about the process and the technical aspect of filmmaking, seeing how they come up with certain shots etc. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the first season of Siren – it’s a very different part for me and it’s really interesting seeing the process the show goes through and also how my character and the other characters develop over the season. I really loved working on Ghost Wars because I got to do some super fun things and was able to work with a lot of my friends. I wish I could say more about it! I really love doing comedy so anything funny for me is always a blast. I could go on forever here but I’ll leave it at that.

How did you get your start in acting? Did you ever want to to be anything other than an actor?

I started out acting in high school plays, then in university was scouted to model (definitely NOT my calling) but ended up booking some commercials and short films and realized that being an actor is what I wanted to do. So I got serious about it and started taking acting and theatre classes.

You serve as a jury member for the Canadian Screen Awards. How did that come about and what are some of your duties?

I joined the Academy of Canadian Film and Television because I wanted to become more involved in the Canadian film/tv community. They asked me to be on the jury a couple of years ago and I have been a jury member ever since. As a jury member, they give you a certain category to participate in. You watch the films and/or television episodes that people are nominated for, then you meet with the rest of the people assigned to that category and select the nominees. It has to be unanimous so it can be a bit of a process but it’s also interesting hearing other actor’s opinions on performance.

You’ve also directed and produced some episodic TV. Would you like to do more of that?

Absolutely. I love it! I’ve written a couple of things and am trying to finish up a draft of a feature and see where it goes from there.

What other areas of film and TV would you like to explore?

I’m slowly learning more about directing, writing and producing – which I want to do more of. One thing I’d like to explore more of is the camera – the different lenses, how camera movement and frame can influence storytelling.

Are you interested in other aspects of the arts?

I love music. I was lucky growing up to have played a variety of instruments – organ, saxophone, drums, a bit of guitar. I desperately wish I could sing.

Do you have any hobbies (if you have the time!) outside of acting?

I like to stay physically active – working out, hiking, skiing, anything in the water. If I’m feeling uninspired or a bit depressed, I pull out an electronic keyboard and can spend hours trying to learn a new song.

Since we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you like “talking nerdy” about?

I definitely nerd out with regard to filmmaking and acting, I could talk for hours about it. I am currently obsessed with Instagram. I’ve always loved pictures and it’s just really amazing that people all over the world can be involved with other people all over the world. It blows my mind how much things have changed in such a short amount of time. You can literally communicate with millions of people in one second. Like Selena Gomez has over 129 million followers! Amazing.

Thank you so much for a fun interview!

Photo Credit:
Photographer:  Torquille de Jonge
PhotoHair/Makeup:  Tianna Marie Beauty

Written by Arlene Allen

Hello, my name is Arlene Allen, and I love all things nerd: genre tv and movies, books, loud rock and roll music, kittens, conventions, books, graphic novels and superheroes, RPG and tabletop games, and did I say books? Oh, yes. I spent 25 years as a librarian (nerd) mainly working with youth (creating nerds), a number of years as a teacher (more nerd indoctrination). I have my own spawn, leveled up to 22 and my partner in nerdiness. As a nerdy writer, I have found a home at Talk Nerdy With Us.

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