Actor shares tale of coming to Toronto to pursue career in film and TV
Rosedale’s Katie Uhlmann believes in creating a community wherever you go in the world.
The 20-something radiates an infectious smile as she sits sipping a cappuccino — the foam lightly coating her scarlet-hued upper lip — at Holt Renfrew’s cafe in early October.
“I just tried: get up, get dressed, get out there, and I took the bull by the horns,” the Trenton-born actor said of her initial experience of coming to Toronto.
Uhlmann arrived in 2009, after graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston with an education in drama and psychology. She says she found Toronto a tough go at first, while she was auditioning and waiting tables.
“I know at one point, and this is probably going to sound cheesy, but I had a Goodlife Fitness membership, and I went to a fitness class after living in the city for three months, and the instructor knew my name,” she said, with a giggle. “She was like, ‘Oh hi, Katie’, and I almost cried.”
Uhlmann has since embraced Toronto, and she has gone on to appear in dozens of films, TV shows and commercials.
That creation of community has been a constant theme with Uhlmann. In her spare time she likes to help out local hairstylists like Duyen Huynh and fashion designers like Hilary MacMillan. And she’s found the acting world in the city welcoming. She’s landed roles on the short film Coffee Grinder, directed by Derek Barnes, as well as other shorts Turned Inside Out, Bully Fighters and feature film Kingdom Come.
“It’s a bit of a wacky comedy — I play a crazy girlfriend, which isn’t too far off the mark,” she says of Coffee Grinder.
She’s also connected with the acting community on another level with high profile filmmakers through her YouTube channel, Katie Chats.
With the help of mom, Joanne, she’s interviewed the likes of Colin Mochrie, Shannon Tweed, Rick Mercer, David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan, and hopes to create an archive of Canadiana.
“I’m really interested in having a library of interviews with Canadian filmmakers,” she coos. “We like to interview a lot of the young ones as well, because it would be really cool, now, if we could see David Cronenberg when he was in film school, but we don’t have that.”
The sense of community doesn’t stop at journalism and film for Uhlmann. Earlier this year she was awarded the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Prince Edward himself gave her the accolade for her work in helping to build an orphanage in Honduras.
“It changed me: up until that point I was that typical spoiled, ungrateful teenager,” she admits. “When you’re friends with people who come from such different backgrounds than yourself, you get to know them, and have an appreciation for everything you’ve been given.”
Her effervescent personality bubbles throughout the interview, and she admits the source for determination to capture audiences through film, television and Web interviews can be traced to her parents, Joanne and Bernie.
“I think, and maybe this will sound cheesy, but I had really supportive parents who were always there for me,” she says, her blue eyes glinting, and lips parting to reveal a toothy smile. “I think what really drives me is to make something of myself so they don’t feel like they’ve wasted all their time and money.
“I think it’s important for everyone to accomplish something so you feel a sense of self worth.”