Meet Our 2015 Actors Conservatory Residents

By Cory Angeletti-Szasz ● August 05, 2015 11:40

The 2015 Actors Conservatory residents, from left to right: Varun Saranga, Grace Glowicki, Zahra Bentham, Jesse LaVercombe, Bruce Novakowski, Emily Coutts, Gia Sandhu, and Lovell Adams-Gray.

As the great Bette Davis so aptly put it, “Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation.” Since the inception of the Actors Conservatory at the CFC in 2009, we have encouraged our acting residents to do just that – to wonder, to take risks, to dream, and we have helped provide them with insight into the art of acting through mentorship from internationally acclaimed directors and acting coaches.

The Actors Conservatory has seen many diverse, talented and unique actors come through its doors. Alumni of the CFC Actors Conservatory are appearing on screens all over the world – like Giacomo Gianniotti on Grey’s AnatomyAnnie Murphy on Schitt’s CreekMatthew Owen Murray on the upcoming ABC Family series Kevin From Work (premieres on August 12), and Sarah Allen in Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys, (alongside another actors alumnus Gabe Grey and 2015 resident Gia Sandhu), which will make its world premiere at TIFF 2015 – and the list goes on.

Now onto our new group of actors! We are pleased to introduce you to the 2015 residents of our highly acclaimed Actors Conservatory, now in its seventh year, supported by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and the RBC Emerging Artists Project. Eight accomplished actors who truly represent Canada’s diverse acting community have been selected to participate in the 2015 program, which offers a transformative artistic experience that strengthens actors’ instrument for the screen and helps them build a professional skill set.

These residents will be with us full-time for the next six months, developing their skillset, strengthening their creative storytelling and collaborative skills, expanding their onscreen portfolio, establishing strong creative and industry partnerships, learning to own the audition process, and ultimately accelerating their professional development and career strategies.

Join us in welcoming the 2015 residents of the CFC Actors Conservatory and read a little bit about each of them below:


Bruce Novakowski is an award-winning Vancouver-based actor who has appeared in more than 30 short and feature-length films and web series including the features Mop King (World Premiere at Austin Film Festival) and Shooting the Musical (Award for Best Actor in a Feature Film, Canadian Film Fest) and the web series Average Dicks (YouTube). Novakowski holds a degree in Theatre Performance from Mount Royal University.

If Bruce were cast for a Norman Jewison film, what role would he want to play? “It would have to be Nicholas Cage's role in Moonstruck, so I could have my very own Nic Cage Internet meme.”


Emily Coutts is a Toronto-based actor and singer/songwriter. Her film and television credits include Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak, The Girlfriend Experience, The Greatest Christmas Party Ever, Murdoch Mysteries and LA Complex. Most recently, Emily co-produced and starred in the indie feature Barn Wedding (Dances With Films Festival, Canadian Film Fest) and is currently co-writing a comedy series that she will star in. She holds a BFA in Acting from York University.

Which actor inspires Emily? “I love Mia Wasikowska. She has a quirky side that makes her come alive in intimate and heartbreaking indies, but she can also own huge classical parts like Jane Eyre with such ease and grace. She's so natural and in touch with a deep sense of personal truth. I was lucky enough to get to work with her this year in Crimson Peak and couldn't help but completely lose myself in her mesmerizing energy.” 


Gia Sandhu is a graduate of The National Theatre School of Canada. Her film acting credits include Beeba Boys (Deepa Mehta, director) and The Moth Diaries (Mary Harron, director), and her TV acting credits include a leading role on Dr. Bob’s House, as well as guest appearances on several television series including Saving Hope and Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures.

If Gia were cast for a Norman Jewison film, she would love to play the role of Loretta (played by Cher) in Moonstruck.


Grace Glowicki is an Alberta-born Toronto-based actor and filmmaker. Her acting credits include leading roles in Hunter Green, The Oxbow Cure(Sarasota Film Fest), Lady Be Good (winner of The Harold Greenberg Shorts to Feature Grant), Bonfire (LA Shorts Fest) and Nightrunners(Zanzibar Film Fest; Winner LA Thriller Fest). Most recently, she completed Queef, which she wrote, directed, and starred in, and is in preproduction on Fembar. She is currently gearing up to co-produce and co-star in Suck it Up,(Jordan Canning, director) which goes to camera in September 2015 and was recently awarded the prestigious 'Women in The Director's Chair' grant of $120,000. She holds a degree in Film Studies from McGill University.

A performance that Grace was recently blown away by? Paul Kaye’s performance in It's All Gone Pete Tong.


Jesse LaVercombe is an award-winning Toronto-based actor and writer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. His film credits include lead roles in the short films The Sixpack Theory and Longhand (Best Canadian Film, International Deaf Film and Arts Festival; Grand Jury Prize [Live Action],The Long Day Short Film Festival), and appearances in the features The Telephone Game and In Clamatore. He has performed professionally in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Fredericton, New Orleans and New York City; he toured Canada with Mistatim (Red Sky Performance) and the American east coast with Hacked: The Treasure of the Empire (Caravan Stage Company). Jesse is the recipient of a Young Arts Award, U.S.A. and trained at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Which actor and body of work is Jesse inspired by? “John Goodman. He's just so good, every time, without any superfluous effort.”


Lovell Adams-Gray is a Toronto-based actor and graduate of Humber’s Acting for Film and Television Program. He performs with the improv troupe #Hashtag, as well as at the Toronto Monologue Slam. Lovell hosted The Next Step Aftershow, appeared in the series Warehouse 13 and Rogue, and is currently filming the Lost and Found series for the Family Channel.

Who would Lovell want to play in a Norman Jewison film? “If I were to be cast in a Norman Jewison film, I would kill to take Denzel's spot as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter OR one of my favourite movies of all time ...And Justice For All as Arthur Kirkland of course!


Varun Saranga was born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario. He got his start in acting as AJ Mehta on YTV’s How to Be Indie. His additional credits include Unnatural History, Mudpit, Cra$h and Burn, Lucky 7, and a leading role on the CBC miniseries The Best Laid Plans. Most recently, he guest starred on Young Drunk Punk alongside Bruce McCulloch.

What performance really blew Varun away recently? “Watching Jake Gyllenhaal play Louis "Lou" Bloom, a super creepy yet charming sociopath, in Nightcrawler was a mind boggling. His entire performance was mesmerizing from beginning to end. There is a certain fascination in seeing human beings who don't feel quite ... human. He nails it. It serves as a beautiful case study into the dark side of the human psyche…”


Zahra Bentham was born and raised in Toronto, where she attended Wexford School for the Arts. Her first acting role was on the TV show Cracked (2013), followed by her first lead role in a feature film in Guidance (2014 Toronto International Film Festival). Her additional acting credits include the 2014 CFC Cineplex Entertainment Film Program showcase piece SOUNDGIRL, as well as a guest role on Rookie Blue (2015).

What actor really wows Zahra? “An actor that continues to blow me away is Tatiana Maslany, playing the eight different – and counting – characters on Orphan Black. I was impressed from the very beginning and she continues to blow me away.”

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and check our news page to see what these actors get up to over the course of their residency with us, and for more information on the Actors Conservatory, please CLICK HERE.

Cory Angeletti-Szasz

Manager, Communications (Mat Leave)