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Slam Session: Matthew Gouveia, Actor


There seems to be something special about winning the Monologue Slam in December. The list of slam finale winners reads Kristian Bruun*, Krista Morin, Akosua Amo-Adem, Farid Yazdani and Matthew Gouveia, who performed at and won his first slam on Sunday, December 7th, 2015. What followed was an incredible year that included two more monologue slam wins, getting accepted into the highly touted CFC Actors Conservatory, a Dora nomination, a string of incredible plays and shorts and becoming one of the most highly sought after actors in the industry. Matthew is the quintessential artist, who’s passion for the craft is uncanny. He’s also the consummate professional. Anyone who’s had the fortune of working with him can tell you it’s like working with a jar of lighting; well prepared, focused and completely unpredictable. A year later we catch up with 2016’s reigning heavy weight champ to find out what a difference a year makes.

TOSLAM: What would you say is the best thing about being involved in the CFC program?

MATTHEW: I don’t know what the best thing is but I know I’ve been privileged to work in a space where I am encouraged every day by incredible facilitators to refine my art. Building friendships and artistic relationships with fellow actors, writers, directors, editors and producers has also been a great pleasure. I’m learning that I can be an autonomous actor and that is a very special thing.

Which do you prefer, theatre, film or tv? What do you love/hate about each?

Theatre. There’s something that happens between an audience and actors on a stage that just doesn’t exist in the cineplex or on set or in front of a TV. Wait, what’s a TV? There’s just a thrill I get when stepping out onto a stage – it’s like a drug. Once you’re out there, there’s no going back. It’s very much like a sport, the theatre, because it requires every fibre of you to be present at all times. There’s also a spontaneity and the room for improvisation that exists when something is live – it’s a different show every night. The lines are the same lines and the costumes are the same costumes and the set is the same set but you’re a different person today than you were yesterday. And so is each of your cast mates and so is your audience. To go on a completely different journey every night? To discover new things every night? There’s nothing like it. I think doing plays is the actor’s best teacher. If you can do a play, you can do anything.

What was your first monologue slam experience like?

It was awesome. I competed with the year’s champs and I won. End of story. *Mic drop* (that 3-peat clearly got to my head).

How was the last time different? What did you learn?

I didn’t win. I learned that Shakespeare won’t get you into the finals. What a shame.

How do you select your monologues and how do prepare for the slam?

I heard somewhere that you should stay clear of dramatic monologues and stick to comedy for the slam. I won my first slam by performing a monologue of a character who unpacked his experience of being raped at 14 years old in a bathroom at Sears on a Wednesday morning while his mother strolled through the aisles shopping for plates. Do what moves you. Period.

What is your process?

I’m still learning what my process is. I don’t know if I have one. It’s different with every role – I think every project requires different things of me. I have a practice – like reading the script a bunch of times and doing table work and physical/vocal warm-ups and the proper field work and such. But in a pinch (the last-minute audition) I learn the words and then say them like I believe they’re mine.

Where have you trained?

Nicky Guadagni, my first ever acting coach, took me under her wing right out of high school and is still a very dear friend of mine. I’m also a graduate of the Humber College Theatre Performance program (2007-2010) and am currently in the Actor’s Conservatory at the Canadian Film Centre.

What is your dream role? Why?

Richard the Third because he’s a “deformed, unfinish’d” villain with a wicked sense of humour who possesses a frightening ability to seduce in order to get what he wants. He’s larger than life. I also just wanna scream the words, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Name three actors that inspire you the most?

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman – they’re transformative. They disappear before your eyes.

What advice would you give aspiring actors?

Do plays. Good plays. On a stage. In front of a live audience. That’s where you’ll learn what you need to learn.

What can we expect from Matthew Gouveia in 2017?

I have no idea what’s in store in 2017. And that’s the way I like it đŸ™‚

*December 2011 was the first ever Toronto Monologue Slam

Slam Session: Lovell Adams-Gray, Actor

Lovell Adams-GrayLovell Adams-Gray is without a doubt one of Canada’s fasting rising stars. Fresh off graduating from the CFC Conservatory, where is breathtaking work kicked off the annual graduation reel, he’s also starring in a Short Film as DAMON, and as “Tully” on Family channel’s Lost & Found Music Studios. In February 2015 Lovell won his first ever Monologue Slam title and just over a year later returned to a stellar performance amongst one of the toughest fields to date. We sat down with the current champion as he sets his eyes on Hollywood.

TOSLAM: Your first Monologue Slam win was February 2015. Your second came just over a year later. How do you feel you’ve evolved since then as an artist?

LOVELL: Honestly, I wish I had won sooner, like in February to have an anniversary celebration or something! Trust the timing of your life, though. Everything happens for a reason, and this second win is a testament to my growth as an actor. The competition was so intense, that even I wouldn’t have known who to vote for! After CFC I feel more confident, more intelligent, more smarterer haha. I have a rejuvenated vim for the stage and all art in general. There was a reinvigorated passion that grew inside of me, since last year and I realized I truly loved acting more than anything. That’s when I truly sat down and had that moment of clarity. I love it, and nothing or nobody can take that away from me. It’s bigger than me, my goals and my dreams. It’s about what I serve; this true art of storytelling. This thing, this greater thing. It’s difficult to articulate, but that’s how I feel. It took me a year after my first win to realize I will not let anything get in the way of my art. That was my evolution.

What is your process?

I’d say my process is somewhat of a blend of techniques. I was raised in theater, even while studying in the film and TV world. I incorporate some Meisner, Uta Haagen, Alexander, Stanislavski. Overall I’d say I follow the Method, using substitution to make the work as true to me as possible. Relaxation is extremely important, chair work, sensory work, and even a couple roll-downs if I’m having a harder time getting the breath down. Everyday is different.

What is your training? Where do you train and what did you get from these experiences?

I’ve trained with LS&CO and Lewis Baumander. I feel like those 2 combined make for a nice combo of process and on camera technique. I graduated from Humber’s AFTV program in 2012, and I’m a recent graduate of the CFC. I feel like Humber gave me the basis and foundation upon which to grow, and the study in between really helped take my acting to another level. The CFC strengthened my technique, and gave me more tools to add to my arsenal, along with confidence and a broader intellect about the industry.

What are your favorite actors? Who inspires you?

I’ve maintained that Will Smith is favorite actor. Always has been, always will be. I grow up following his work, and It’s been my lifelong dream to co-star with him. *wink to the industry* I am a student of Denzel Washington 100% and he inspires and uplifts me to always do my best in anything I do. His relaxation is impeccable; he just completely owns his body! Idris Elba is another of my favorites because he captures behavior so well. Al Pacino is someone I really want to study under as well. Someone else who inspires me is a local artist named Matthew Gouveia, he is someone else who completely owns their body. So relaxed, so engaging and compelling to watch. He’s on the come-up so watch out for him.

The hardest role you’ve played so far? What are the challenges you faced?

The hardest role I’ve done so far, is hard to say. They’ve all been hard for different reasons. I try to go as deep as I can when working on a piece, and there have always been challenges I’ve faced when working; whether those be personal or character based. When I was on Rogue, I had to go in as a replacement for someone else who had already shot for this character, and on the first day I had to die. That was challenging because I felt like I had A LOT to prove. Big Director, network show, and rather green in the industry, but I had to pull up my big boy pants and get the work done. For DAMON I went insane with my prep. I really wanted to feel the despair, the dirty, the time. I slept on the floor for a month, stopped listening to music, and stopped bathing for 3 days before the shoot. It was a personal kind of hell, and it got me sick, but it was beautiful; and I if I could do it again, I would do even more. I would find different ways to get even deeper into both of my characters.

The most fun role you’ve ever played, and why?

I’d have to say the most fun role I’ve played is unanswerable! They’ve all been so much fun for different reasons. Even after getting the initial “happy to be here” giddiness. For Warehouse 13 I got to play drunk as hell, and get shot with an air canon. For Rogue, I got to die on screen, shoot guns, and do a hit and run (running on camera is also a dream of mine). In DAMON the prep alone was fun, as excruciating as it was. By the end of that shoot, I was completely finished! I left it all on the table, my heart on the floor; and that feeling was… incomparable.

What is your dream role and what do you feel you’d bring to it?

I have a few dream roles, but specifically, I want to play Kanye West in his biopic. I feel like I look enough like him to pull it off! Personally, I get to bring my own arrogance, and charm to him. I get to be completely uncompromising in my work and integrity. I get to be a father, husband, and the most prolific artist of our generation! There’s little doubt Kanye is a legend, and to get to play that, to embody that, I would be ecstatic. It would be scary though. He’s so unapologetic, and he thinks differently. I would demand a lot of myself to tell his story truthfully, and viscerally.

What is your advice for aspiring actors?

My advice to young aspiring actors would be this: NEVER STOP. If this is truly what you want to do, if it pains you to do anything else, then do it. Do not let anything, or anyone get in the way of your dreams. That includes circumstances or environments. I was raised in Rexdale, (I went to Smithfield I went to NACI) and have seen my share of street nonsense, but you have to remain focused. There are so many distractions to deter us from our goals, but as long as we surround ourselves with the right people; like-minded people, WE can change our circumstances into how we see fit.

Which of the characters you’ve played that is most, and least like you?

I’d have to say that playing Tully in Family’s Lost & Found Music Studios is the most like me. I actually forgot to mention how fun it was playing this character! I have a girlfriend, a producer career, and a stick-shift whip!! None of which I personally own, but in terms of personality, and desires, Tully is most like me; he’s like the dark side of me in a way. I endeavor to make any character I play; me. I bring myself to my work, and even when it seems this character I’ve brought to life, is nowhere near who I am; trust that there is a bit of me in there. If not all of me. Take CHICAGO for example; CHICAGO wants one thing, and that is to live. To infect DAMON with his essence and live through him. To take over. I had to take myself (because that’s all i have) I really sit with what it is to want something that bad. To survive. Who is survivor Lovell? What does he look like? What does he sound like? What does he smell like? The result is someone completely transformed from “everyday Lovell.” Someone darker, more aggressive, more direct. More desperate. Thus, CHICAGO vs DAMON.

If not an actor, what else would you do?

When I was in 12th grade, I contemplated becoming an astronomer. It was either study the stars or study WITH the stars. It wasn’t until I spoke to my Co-op teacher, Mr. Poitras, that I decided to follow my dreams. He said “Well, if you want to go to university for astronomy that’s perfectly fine, its a great way to go; and you can always make it your plan B if acting doesn’t work out. Just remember, whatever you don’t put into your acting, there is another guy putting in twice as much.” The next day I sent off my applications to York and U of T for their acting conservatories. Fate would lead me to Humber for AFTV, but the journey is the same. There is nothing I’d rather be doing. I love acting, I love telling stories, and LOVE being able to bring my other hobbies and things I love INTO my work. I love learning new things while doing the work; not only about myself, but even general things like how to drive stick. My biggest dream is to travel this world and see it all! The entire planet. Even places where I shouldn’t go for whatever reason. I want to see it all, and I want my career to take me there. I want to shoot a movie in Beijing, or New Zealand, or Alaska, and I want to take my family with me.

What is a fun, strange and interesting fact about you that most people aren’t aware of?

Something I don’t think a lot of people know about me is that I’m a huge nerd. It’s funny because its not something I try to hide, but its not something that comes up in everyday conversation. I love Lupe Fiasco, I love dragons and mythology. Swords and knights and things like that. If I was in that world I’d probably be a rogue, or a battlemage. I also hate wizards because they suck, but I simply adore ninjas and people in that world. I’m actually working on a script that has a lot of these biases in it. It’s called YOLIAH *patent pending* Just know it’s going to be some fire.