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So Many Questions

So Many Questions: 'Orphan Black' actress Inga Cadranel has passion for music, too

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
arrives at the Toronto International Film Festival opening night party held at the Liberty Grande on September 10, 2009 in Toronto, Canada.
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arrives at the Toronto International Film Festival opening night party held at the Liberty Grande on September 10, 2009 in Toronto, Canada.

Inga Cadranel

Most people tend to avoid change like the plague. For Canadian actress Inga Cadranel, however, variety has proven to be the spice of life.

Case in point: Her current role as detective Angela Deangeli on the BBC America sci-fi drama “Orphan Black.” It's a far cry from her days spent racking up honors from the Canadian Comedy Awards, but as far as she's concerned, it's been a blessing in disguise. Rather than be typecast in “serious” roles that tend to effortlessly compliment her dramatic looks, the stunning brunette enjoys having the creative freedom to toggle between the two genres.

Adjusting to 180-degree turns is nothing new for Cadranel. After spending her formative years performing for the Canadian Opera Company (her credits eventually included scoring the lead role in “Patria II”), as a young adult she found herself drawn to punk music. Following her passion, she ended up touring sold-out venues across Canada with her band, Battlestar, finding solace in an atmosphere where she wasn't the least bit concerned about playing by the rules.

Although the days of being a starving artist are long gone for the successful, 30-something actress, the punk music scene is where you'll still find her heart. Acting has been the practical choice, she says, one that pays the bills. Just don't expect practicality to dampen the desire for an eventual return to her roots.

Question: You enjoy a wide range of projects — is it hard to transition between comedy and drama or do you find it refreshing?

Answer: No, it's the best thing anyone could ask for. If you get stuck in one particular role over and over and over again, I can see how people can start to resent that character and that typecast. I feel so blessed that here in Canada we can be thought of in so many characters, and the range is so big. I'm not sure if the pool is different in Los Angeles, or I've just gotten lucky, but I feel extremely blessed.

Q: Is there one genre that you find particularly challenging?

A: Funnily enough, I find comedy really easy. I find it to be my most natural. It comes out without feeling like I'm working, and people usually feel the other way. I find being serious harder. Because I look dramatic, I have a face that's really serious and dramatic, I get a lot of (roles as) police officers and lawyers, and I find it harder. I'm such a goofball — I'm the one on set who doesn't shut up, always making jokes and making people laugh.

Q: Speaking of transitions, what was it like going from playing the lead in Canadian Opera Company productions to touring with your punk-rock band, Battlestar?

A: The Canadian Opera stuff happened when I was really, really young, and it was a real blessing to be part of such a big company. It was such an honor, abut it happened when I was young and right out of the gate. I never took singing lessons or formal training of any kind. And I think I was young enough that they couldn't find actresses who could sing or act as well. And then, when I became who I was and I went through my teen years and I discovered the music I wanted to play, (it) was the music that would give me a release from my daily life. It was really freeing to play in a punk rock band because there were no rules. The way the fans reacted and the scene in the bar was just really (non-judgmental). I was really affected by it. It played a big part in shaping who I really was. It was one of the best times of my life, and I really miss it.

Q: It's interesting that you describe that scene as non-judgmental, especially since the film and TV biz is so overly judgmental. Was that hard to get used to?

A: I was acting while I was playing in my band, too, and it very bizarre and very weird and I found it — and still find it — very hard to conform to the film and TV lifestyle. Even with theater, they're not so critical — it's also just a more open-minded audience. But film and TV is so critical and it was a really hard thing to get used to. And I think playing in the band really gave me a release and helped me not care so much and not be so affected by the critique.

It can get really nasty — and, at first, I wasn't used to it. I wasn't a part of the “mean girls” club, and I loathed it. I still find it nauseating, but the band really gave me what I needed to teach myself not to care. If they didn't like how I looked, that was their problem and their issue. If they want to change my hair, they can change my hair. Especially now that I'm aging; I'm in my mid-30s, heading to 40, and now it's even worse. I really have a thick skin now and say, “Hey, this is the way I look, if you don't like it, don't hire me. If you like me, you can put the makeup on me and shut up.” My lifestyle outside of work is really chill and cool, and I don't surround myself with superficial people. I remember it's just a job, but yeah, it's challenging.

Q: So, at the end of the day, if you had to choose between acting and singing, which would it be and why?

A: That's a very hard question because they both have totally different answers. Music is my passion and it comes from me — I'm the writer, producer, director — and when people love it and appreciate it, you feel elated because they love what you created from your heart and soul. So in that way, you feel a bigger reward. And acting, that's my vacation. I'm not home, I'm with a whole bunch of really fun and amazing people and I get a paycheck.

So if you want to do the music, you do it for the love of music, not the money, because you don't get money until you get really, really big. And that's not going to pay the bills. So, to choose one on principle, I'd have to go with the acting because it affords me a good lifestyle for me and my children, but there's always this hole in my heart for the music because it's part of my soul. I know one day I'm going to go back to that, but right now, I can't be the starving artist anymore.

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