Paul Moniz de Sá

Paul Moniz de Sá has been working as a professional actor for over 20 years both on camera and on stage. His work has been seen on stages across North America including the Vancouver Playhouse, the National Arts Centre and at the Charlottetown Festival in PEI. Paul has also worked as a sound designer for various theatre companies in Vancouver including Bard on the Beach, the Arts Club Theatre and Touchstone Theatre. He received Jessie awards for his performances in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” with Pacific Theatre and “The Overcoat” at the Vancouver Playhouse as well as Jessie nominations for his performance in “Driving Miss Daisy” at Pacific Theatre and his sound designs for “One In A Million” with Green Thumb Theatre and “The Prodigal Son” with Touchstone and Pacific Theatre. Paul began his theatrical training at Arts Umbrella when he was 16 and continued on to study at the prestigious Studio 58 at Langara College. Paul has also made a career as an instructor teaching sound design and acting both on and off camera with organizations such as Bard on the Beach, Douglas College, the Shadbolt Centre and Learning Through the Arts. From 2008 to 2022, Paul was the Artistic Director of Theatre, Music & Film at Arts Umbrella where he continues to direct in the Pre-Professional Theatre Program.

You have been working as a professional actor for over 20 years, both in cinema and theater. How did this passion for acting come about?

I remember pretending to put on concerts to an imaginary crowd while standing on the deep freezer in the utility room of my family home when I was about 7 or 8 years old but my love of the craft of theatre started in high school. I had an interest in science and course load was very academic heavy, so my sister convinced me to take a drama class as an elective in order to have at least one class where I could have some fun. Little did I know how much that decision would affect the rest of my life. In grade 10 I performed in my first play. It was Frankenstein and although I was originally supposed to play the monster, the actor who was to play the doctor dropped out and I convinced my teacher to keep the play going by casting me as the doctor and finding someone else to play the monster. From then on, I was hooked. I tried out for any show I could, both in the school or in the community. I got season tickets to see shows at the Vancouver Playhouse where I witnessed such wonderful performances. I started taking classes at Arts Umbrella which introduced me to other like minded young actors as well as industry professionals who encouraged me to pursue acting as a career. I went to Studio 58, the prestigious professional theatre training program at Langara College and the rest is history.

The experience of an actor or actress is acquired over the years, but the truth is that in order to gain that experience, it is necessary to have a basic talent with which to start taking your first steps in this world. Did you always know you had this natural talent for acting?

I never thought of this as a natural talent. What I do know is that I loved doing it. I loved watching it. I loved being a part of it. It was the interest that propelled me forward. My father passed away when I was about 7 years old. I wish I had gotten to know him better. I mention this because I remember saying to my mother one day that I thought that if my father had still been alive that I probably wouldn’t be acting. She told me that he had always wanted to be a performer but his parents wouldn’t let him. My family says they see a lot of him in me. In that sense, perhaps one could say that I get this from my father, but I also think that it was fostered by the rest of my family who paid for the classes, who took me to auditions, who sat through all my performances, both good and bad and generally encouraged me to pursue what I love.

Alongside acting, you serve as an acting teacher, stage director and sound director at theaters across North America including Touchstone, The Arts Club, Green Thumb, Manitoba Theater Center and The National Arts Centre. In which of these areas do you feel most fulfilled?

I have had the privilege to have worked with many wonderful artists in many capacities. I have been a sound designer, a theatre teacher, a director, I dabbled in Stage Management although I am not very good at it and I have been lucky enough to work in TV/Film and Theatre. I find all of them fulfilling because they are part of something bigger. The industry is a collaborative industry. I can’t do what I do on stage or on screen without the talent of all the other people who bring these stories to life. What I love is that collaborative storytelling. In the end, I am happy to play a part in it, no matter what that part is.

Film and TV appearances throughout your career include The BFG, Shogun, The Unforgivable, Yellowjackets, Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries: Poisoned in Paradise, Arrow, Motive, as well as recurring roles on Stargate SG1 and Eureka. Can we say that versatility is one of your main qualities?

I like to think that I am a versatile actor. I think of myself as a character actor. I love changing my look or my energy to suit the role. What I want to do is share the story with honesty, vulnerability and truth. I am looking to create a believable character, not a caricature. I think that is where the fun is in this work. Delving into a character to discover more about them and sharing that with the audience.

You participated in several films, being considered one of the most outstanding actors in the comedy genre. Is it also in this style that you feel most comfortable?

It is interesting you should say that because I have never really thought of myself as being funny. I love playing quirky characters. I think we are all unique and I like to find the uniqueness in each of my roles. I treat all of my characters as if I am doing Shakespeare.

In addition to television, you have extensive theater experience, having received two Jessie Richardson Awards, the City of Vancouver Theater Trophy, for your work in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “The Overcoat”. How does it feel to see the quality of your work recognized?

I am very proud of the work I have done, regardless of recognition, but it is always lovely to know that people are enjoying the work.

How do you prepare for each of your roles, whether in cinema or theater?

It really depends on the role and what is required. When doing Shakespeare, there is a lot of homework to be done so that I am clear on what the character is saying. That language requires that extra time to get an understanding of the text. That said, I need to do the same with other characters too. Getting to know what my character wants, what they need from the other characters. Playing with how the character gets what they want and discovering their physicality and voice. Looking into their mindset and why they do what they do. All these things are key to creating the character for me.

What was the role or project that marked you the most, for different reasons?

I can’t say too much about the project but seeing as how I am listed on IMDB as playing Father Sebastio on Shogun, and that the story is well known, I can say that it was a highlight of my career. Besides the fantastic cast, crew and production, the fact that I was able to access my own culture to play a Portuguese priest meant so much to me. We aren’t often seen in American cinema and I very much appreciated the chance to be a part of this story.

Are you currently involved in any projects that you can reveal to us?

I just finished directing an original play, written by fellow Luso Artist, Elaine Avila, called Hummingbird. Before I stepped down from my position as Artistic Director of Theatre, Music, & Film at Arts Umbrella, I started a community Eco Theatre project which brought theatre teachers and writers into the schools to explore the environment. We used what we learned from the students about where their concerns or interests lie with regards to the environment and commissioned Elaine to write an original play inspired by what we learned in the schools. The play was performed and toured in Vancouver by my students in my senior theatre troupe at Arts Umbrella. It is always wonderful to work with Elaine and I am so happy to be doing it again.
I also just finished lending my voice to an animation series called Polly Pocket. This is not my first time doing voice over work, but it will be my first time as an animated character. I am hoping to continue exploring this genre in the future.

You are one of the few internationally successful Lusophone artists. Do you consider that there is a lack of opportunities for Portuguese artists in the international market?

I am not sure if it is a lack of opportunity or if it is a lack of our willingness to share and tell our stories. I have often said that in Canada I am Portuguese and in Portugal, I am Canadian. Most of the roles I go out for here don’t have any Portuguese content. It wouldn’t be relevant to the story and so I am not identified as Portuguese per se. However, as I grew up, I didn’t see many Portuguese people in my community here in Vancouver with the interest in theatre or acting. It wasn’t done. I think that is changing. I have always been proud to be Portuguese. It is very much a part of who I am. I hope that I get more opportunities to share our stories.

What message would you like to leave to all those who dream of “a place in the sun” in the world of cinema, theater and television?

Don’t let anyone tell you that it is impossible. It is never easy, but then again, nothing worth working for ever is. If you love it, pursue it, enjoy it and don’t be afraid to make it happen.

Versão portuguesa





Deixe um Comentário

Your email address will not be published.

Start typing and press Enter to search