Devon Slack a Prince Rupert dancer's agility transform her to be a stunt actor and director. (Photo: Supplied)

Prince Rupert dancer transitions to stunt acting, film directing and balancing motherhood

It was like I had to pretend to be a man in this world. I think we can be women — Devon Slack

A Prince Rupert Spectrum dancer has shown her agility in life from her roots as an Annunciation school student to a Canadian stunt actor in a male-based industry to now a director exploring the balance of women’s feminity.

The multigenerational Rupertite, Devon Slack, was born in the coastal Northwest B.C. city to parents Cam and Camela Slack. She is the granddaughter of a well-known city resident, now passed away, Janet Slack, who Devon credits as being her inspiration for performance art and theatre.

“My grandma was a huge influence because she was really involved in the theatre. She wasn’t like a ‘dance mom’ because she was the dance grandmom. She was always very encouraging of art and performance. Any kind of school play, we were part of it. Any kind of performance we were part of it. So it just feels like it’s always been there,” Devon said.

“She always dreamed of being an actor, so I feel a part of me wanted to fulfill that dream.”

Devon told The Northern View she grew up connecting with nature found in Prince Rupert by hiking and exploring, which she believes has fostered the artist in her. She developed a love for performing from being a student of dance under the tutelage and leadership of Ella Ferland at Spectrum Dance Academy.

Devon said that her ability in dance helped her transition into an acting career after moving away from her hometown.

“The dancing world prepped me for the film industry,” she said, adding the competitive aspects of the industries have taught her a lot, especially for stunt work.

She wasn’t a fighter, she said, but after watching a lot of film fights in the Marvel and DC movies, she started taking classes and learned to fight.

“I was able to translate my dancing into action … I started to learn its choreography and got good at it.”

At 5’10, there aren’t a lot of tall women in the stunt world, she said. “I got some incredible opportunities and got to work on some amazing shows.”

Slack has worked on feature films, network TV shows and video games such as Smallville, X-Men, Mission Impossible, Super Natural, Assassin’s Creed, 100, and The Handmaid’s Tale, among others.

“I got to work on that last year. I was living a dream. I got to watch Elizabeth Moss film her scenes live. I was like, ‘This is the highlight of my career. I got to know the end of the last season before it went out.”

She also doubled as the stunt actor for one of the leads in the series 100.

“She was this army badass. The character had a lot of action, and I did all that. It was awesome. It was pretty incredible.”

Her proudest moment in front of the camera was as the lead actor in the 2020 film “Yankee,” playing a young American woman in the country illegally who turns to street fighting to pay for basic needs.

“It was directed and essentially written for me. The director and the writer loved what I was doing which was acting and stance. I was like doing everything … It was incredible — one of those opportunities you don’t think you ever would receive in life.”

Now living in Trenton, Ontario, with her husband and baby, she is fresh off the heels of shooting three episodes of “Fakes” a Netflix crime series. The actor and motion capture artist has taken on a new director role for a visual album called “Sorella,” which means sister in Italian.

Working with co-director Mercedes Papalia, who wrote and performs on the visual album, which includes five original songs and music videos strung together in a narrative film, it connects intuition, personal transformation, and artistic exploration through dance, story, and song, she said.

“Sorella” explores childhood memories – ones we’ve lost and ones we wish we could forget – as well as life’s heartbreaking moments,” Slack said. “Sorella is a journey of awakening to the Divine Feminine and all the shadows that arise in the pursuit of personal redemption. Connecting spirit with the sacred nature of all artistic endeavours.”

Slack said her team “intends to create a beautiful piece of art that impacts the collective consciousness and plants the seeds of healing in everyone it reaches.”

“[It’s] really diving into the feminine, and the feminine reach.[It’s] really looking at what the feminine soul is because I feel there’s not enough content out there expressing that.”

“It’s trying to dive into the truth of it. The deep understanding … just to be a woman … like how we feel about our bodies, what society puts on us, the trauma we go through, dealing with family trauma, and how it gets passed down,” she said.

Devon explained there is a definite contrast between stunt work which has an aurora of masculinity, and the work on Sorella, which delves into the feminine.

“It is a quite masculine world. I found myself struggling, I guess you could say. I loved the action, and I love the expression, and I love this art form of fighting. I like using my dance background — everything I trained for, and to be able to translate it. But my soul wasn’t [there] because I had to kind of be a man.”

“[It was like] I have to like pretend to be a man to be in this world. I don’t think women need to do that. I don’t think we have to do that. I think we could be women in this world. We don’t have to be part of the patriarchy.”

She said it took her a while to figure it out for herself and used her work in The Handmaid’s Tale as an example of strong female empowerment and material.

“It has all this really good intense stuff — but it’s taken me ten years to figure this out. We still have a long way to go.”

“I am hoping that with Sorella and this project, we’re adding another piece to that puzzle to help women maybe not feel like they have to change who they are to be a working professional.”

She said that working on a mostly women-employed set crew makes a complete difference in processes and filming approaches.

“We’re going off our instincts. We’re going off of our psychic development. We’re going off of our intuition and trusting our intuition. We are not questioning our intuition.”

She said it can be a challenge in the “man’s world” because intuition is not usually wanted nor is it a sign of a good thing, but the work she is doing honours women and their abilities.

“There’s a respect happening for how women work. It’s a struggle for us too, because we have been taught to suppress all this. So we are also developing what it is for us how to work. We’re both moms, so we have our kids and spouses to deal with.”

“We’ll be like in the middle of a call trying to work something out, and our babies are crying. That’s okay — there are no hard feelings in calling back. It’s been the best way of working. We’ve been able to mould it all together. I’m thrilled that this is starting to happen for me because I know if I can make this work, I’m just opening the doors for other women to make it work.”

Slack said to make the film everything they aspire it be they have turned to the crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, to raise the remaining funds necessary to finish the project. The money raised in the campaign will be used to bring on the ‘best of the best’ in music production, cinematography, lighting, acting, hair and makeup, stylists and production design, as well as to cover costs such as locations, equipment rentals, wardrobe and props, she said.


 
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist 
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Devon Slack, Prince Rupert actor and director. (Photo: supplied)

Devon Slack, Prince Rupert born actor and director. (Photo: supplied)

Devon Slack, Prince Rupert born actor and director. (Photo: supplied)