Laura Sbordone: The Harmony in Hard Work
Having known Torontonian performer Laura Sbordone for a number of years, one key quality she possesses is her never ending work ethic. Having graduated from York University, Toronto’s Second City, and currently undergoing training from David Rotenberg’s Professional Actors Lab, Sbordone has chased the acting dream since high school. With a number of projects having been completed (and heading her way), the hectic life of a screen performer has become a reality. Sbordone has had leading roles in shorts The Offering and Rumspringa, as well as an upcoming gig with Tales from the Old Hollow (which starts production in May). Despite this busy schedule, Sbordone was able to sit down with Films Fatale to discuss — in great length — her busy road to get to this point. She offers advice to any aspiring performers, and the many trials and tribulations one will face in this difficult (but rewarding) field.
Films Fatale: What are misconceptions the general public has on what it's like to be a performer? What would you like the masses to know that never gets brought up?
Laura Sbordone: Well the biggest misconception that I hear from people time and time again is that they seem to think it all happens very quickly, or that it must be so easy. I think a lot of people think overnight success is actually a thing that happens often in the industry. What they don’t see, is that most actors who become successful have spent years and years grinding away, paying their dues before they ever “make it” to anything that you would have “seen them in”. Whether it be theatre/film school or student films, everyone has a different path, but it most certainly doesn’t just take a couple years to become established. It takes a lot of hard work on the business side, grinding away before you actually get to “act”.
Plenty of friends and family think I just get to play make believe and dress up in fun costumes, but people don’t really get to see the vigorous work in between that gets you from job to job. Not to mention the long gaps between jobs or even auditions that is actually quite normal. The countless auditions, classes, meetings and networking (and so much more). The idea and timeframe of success is a big misconception I think the masses have in general of the industry.
FF: The grind in the industry is clear. What do you do to keep going?
LS: I’ve wanted to do this since I was about six years old, which basically means I’ve been researching for a very long time about that very thing. How do you keep going in an industry that has no stability and constant rejection? I’ve watched and read countless interviews with actors giving advice on the grind of the industry, and the most common thread of advice has been this: Do at least one thing for your acting career every single day. This career definitely has its ups and downs, its non stop busy times and it's absolutely dead at times. But I’ve found if you try to do at least one thing every day, no matter how small, you not only feel motivated but you keep up your momentum for an opportunity to arise. Being successful or having longevity in this industry is a mixture of luck and preparedness. Opportunities are pretty much luck, but they come up more often if you are constantly trying to better yourself as an actor and you work your butt off, making sure you are prepared when that lucky door opens.
FF: What about the other side of things: is there a reward that you personally find in the industry that you would like to share?
LS: One of the most rewarding parts of the industry for me, is getting to work with people who love film just as much as I do! I love the process just as much as the end result, maybe even more so. And in making something together that you all believe in, you actually create a little family with each person working on the film. It almost feels like you are all cheering for the same sports team, and you all get a chance to play the game together (if that makes sense?). Basically, we are just a bunch of film nerds who get to nerd out together.
FF: Do you have any favourite set stories?
LS: There’s too many great moments to mention, hence why I love doing this, but if I had to pick, it would be these two experiences.
My most recent was my first big crying scene on set. It’s always the most nerve racking to have to start crying at the drop of a hat in a scene, not to mention then having to do it over and over, take after take as if it was the first time. It was definitely a challenge, but the biggest compliment came after the director yelled “cut”, and the camera and sound guys both let out an audible “woah”. Believe it or not, it's always the most fun to impress or entertain the crew with your acting, because they have seen it all time and time again.
And the second was when I got the lucky opportunity to be on the set of Molly’s Game. I actually got paid to watch Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain do what they do best for almost eighteen hours straight. The fatigue was definitely well worth it that day. They were so kind and generous, it was nice to see in people at the top of their game.
FF: What would you like aspiring performers to know? What about struggling performers?
LS: I think what I want aspiring performers to know is that it's not for the faint of heart. Any job, even your dream job, isn’t always going to be doing the “fun part” all the time.It’s ultimately a business first and a very tough one at that. And that sometimes means working fifteen to seventeen hour days, or working in freezing or blazing hot weather conditions for hours on end. It means sometimes missing important moments with your family and usually means always having to keep a second job. If you can get through all of that and more, and you still want to do it, then you are meant to pursue acting.
To struggling performers, I always say that comparing yourself to others accomplishes nothing but self-doubt. Another person’s accomplishments don’t diminish yours, nor does it stop your ability to keep trying. I like to believe that the roles that are meant for you, will be yours (which means the roles you don’t get weren’t yours to begin with, they were meant for someone else in their journey). There will always be another around the corner meant for you.
FF: We like to send interviews off with the most basic question, based on why we are all cinephiles. What are your top five films of all time, and why?
LS: This is the hardest question to ask a film lover! It’s impossible to choose only five. But here’s my “cheating” attempt, in no particular order, of six of my favourite films.
LS: A classic that literally stands the test of time in writing, directing and acting.
One Fine Day/You’ve Got Mail
LS: I’m cheating here with two, because these are two of my favourites for the same reason. They are both romantic comedy gold that showcases great acting and perfect witty banter between their brilliant leads.
Catch Me If You Can
LS: In my opinion, this is practically a perfect film in all aspects. Plus there’s the iconic triple threat of Hanks, DiCaprio and Spielberg.
That Thing You Do!
LS: Tom Hanks’ directorial debut that just exudes his love for movie magic from beginning to end. Not to mention it has one hell of a soundtrack!
The Shawshank Redemption
LS: I don’t think this one should require an explanation.
Films Fatale thanks Laura Sbordone for her time. You can follow her on Instagram @Laurasbordone for on set photos and other behind-the-scenes insights here.
Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.