There isn’t a shortage of hot young women in the movie business these days. Hot young women with talent though? Well that is another story. Thankfully there are ladies like Karissa and Katie Strain who are both attractive and talented working in the business today. If you are a fan of the awesome show Todd and the Book of Pure Evil like I am then you got to see Karissa and Katie work their magic in the episode entitled “Terrible Twin Turf Tussle” which was one of the best episodes of the show’s run in my opinion. These ladies have a very bright future ahead of them, and it was my absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to interview them recently.
Todd Martin: How long have you been acting/modeling, and how did you get into each one?
Karissa: We started in the industry when we were about 13 years old. We were approached by a model scout in a mall in our home town, asking us if we would be interested in attending a competition they were holding in Niagara Falls. We decided to go, and ended up placing and further connecting with agencies in Toronto. We intended just to do the modeling, however with our height (5’4”) we were not tall enough for most modeling work. Our agent started submitting us for commercial acting work and that is how we learned we liked the acting, actually even more so, then the modeling. We were living in Chatham Ontario until the age of 18, so we only made the trip to Toronto about 3 times a year for specific auditions. We moved here in 2009 to attend York University, in their Theatre program for a year, however, we were unsatisfied, as our main objective was film/television acting. We decided to take time off from school and just go full force into the acting scene in Toronto, and so far we can’t complain. School will always be there if we choose to go back, I don’t want to face the regret of never trying while I am young enough.
Katie: We always had an eye for interesting clothing and loved to wear unique outfits and get our picture taken. We thought it would be a fun thing to try but quickly learned that with our height we might not have much of shot doing that type of work professionally. Agents suggested we try acting and sure enough we quickly fell in love with that and realized we have a much bigger passion for that work anyway.
TM: What products/companies have you done modeling work for since you began your modeling career?
Karissa: I have modeled with Nike, Sears, Copious Couture, Tryd and True, Jaggermeister, as well as many photographers in the Toronto area on personal and creative collaborations.
Katie: Most of the modeling work we have done is freelance through different photographers throughout the city. Being actresses, we are very suited to
creative style shoots , ones which have a story and a character. Although we love fashion photography and beauty campaigns , it’s difficult for
someone of our height to find that work but we continue to try! Most shoots are for fun and experience and to build our portfolio when we have time
to fit it in between acting jobs. Last year I shot an ad for Ford which was used for subway advertising in Manitoba. We love working with all types of photographers and working together to bring to life different styles and stories and characters through photos. We always get beautiful shots and
we get to experience all types of different roles and personalities and it’s amazing to get to work with so many talented artists.
TM: What movies or television shows have you appeared in?
Karissa: I have been a part of three feature films. I was a photo double for Ashley Olsen in her movie New York Minute, I was a dancer in the film Amelia with Richard Gear and Hilary Swank, and am currently filming the role of Nikki in MGM’s adaptation of the horror movie Carrie. Other independent films include Mr. Viral, Disconnect and In Retrospect. Television appearances would include Murdoch Mysteries ( Blood and Circuses), Scare Tactics ( multiple episodes, season 4&5), Stay with me (pilot), Totally amp’d( web series/episodes), Todd and the Book of Pure Evil ( Terrible Twin Turf Tussle) and Saving Hope (Consenting Adults).
Katie: Our first role was one of the best experiences of our lives. When we were 13, we played Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s photo doubles in their film “New York Minute”. We were always huge fans as little girls so that was amazing to meet and work with them. It was our first film and was amazing! Definitely fueled the passion for us to continue to pursue this kind of work. Since then we have gradually been trying to work our way up in Toronto and have been in several TV shows.
TM: What would you say has been your favorite acting job so far and why ?
Karissa: Todd and the Book of Pure Evil was by far my favorite. The characters were so fun and interesting. It is not every day you get to start a big clone war with your twin sister (laughs). And everyone involved in the project was so passionate about it. To the creators, this project was their baby, they worked really hard, for a long time to get this show going. It is amazing to go to work, doing something you are passionate about and knowing that everyone else is there because they are just as passionate about it as you. That is when amazing pieces of art our made!
Katie: Although I have had so many great experiences working on every set and have taken a lot from each job, my favorite role was playing Delilah on “Todd and the Book or Pure Evil”. This was the first twin role we got to play that actually gave us some substance to our characters. Twin roles aren’t
often taken seriously and are more so about the look or novelty of using twins but these two characters gave us both a great opportunity to really challenge ourselves and show that even though we do a lot of twin work, we both have unique styles and talent and are capable of more meaty roles. We are both so thankful for being given the chance to be a part of that show and are so happy with how our episode turned out. For me, Delilah was one of my most interesting characters yet and offered me the chance to explore more of myself, which is always interesting…to push yourself and see
what you are capable of and discover parts of yourself that you haven’t before. Overall, just a great project and cast to be a part of and I absolutely loved that character!!
TM: If you had to choose between only acting or modeling from now on which one would you pick and why?
Karissa: Hands down Acting, to be honest I rarely do the modeling anymore. I enjoy it, when the opportunity presents itself I am all for it. However, there is so much more involved when it comes to Acting, I love the challenge of bringing characters to life and pushing the limits of my capabilities, expanding and opening my mind to different ways of living and thinking. My true passion lies with the acting.
Katie: Without question I would choose acting. Modeling has always been a passion and a fun way to explore different roles and characters but acting is definitely my truest passion. There’s just only so much you can explore and express in a still image. I want to be able to develop a character and live
out an entire story with them, not just certain glimpses of their life. Also, when it comes to professional modeling, most often the work is about a product or clothing that you as a model are advertising which again is why I do creative work mostly. I think doing it as a job, I would lose what
draws me to it…it wouldn’t be as enjoyable anymore. With acting, you’re always getting the opportunity to work on a new project with new people and try a new role. I love that it offers variety and with that it’s always presenting a new challenge and the opportunity to learn and grow and constantly
TM: Tell us a little something about yourself. What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? What are your interests, etc?
Karissa: I love music, going to live performances, or listening to my vinyls. I am also an animal lover, all animals, I adore them. Nothing puts a smile on my face more often. One of my current goals is to own a tea cup pig (laughs). I also really enjoy reading and learning new things, I am very much into health and fitness. I have a regular workout routine and I am also currently learning a lot about holistic nutrition and self enlightenment and meditation.
Katie: Another passion I have besides modeling and acting is Dance. I danced and choreographed competitively all through high school and loved it as another artistic outlet. It’s such a beautiful art form and I loved being able to express a story or emotion with my entire body and being. I also have a
deep love for music, being able to feel something from a piece of music and letting whatever its making you feel move though you and create a beautiful work of art. I haven’t been training for the last few years, just being too busy to keep it up but hearing a song that awakens or stirs something in me still makes me want to express it through dance and makes me miss it terribly. It’s something I’d really like to get back into very soon, feels like part of me that’s missing!
TM: What was it like working with the cast of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil? I bet those guys are a blast to work with!
Karissa: I mentioned a bit about this previously, it was for sure a blast! With the story lines and characters that are involved in each of the episodes, how could it not be (laughs)?? Everyone that was there truly enjoyed being a part of the show, and I think I can say, especially from my own perspective that if you have worked on Todd, there is a definite amount of pride in that fact.
Katie: Like I said, it was absolutely my favorite set to work on. The passion the creators and writers had for the show they developed was infectious. It was an incredible team and an amazing cast and I loved every minute of it. It was a great experience working with each and every one of them. They made it so much fun and so easy to do a good job. I also love the show..always great when you get to work on something you actually really love and support.
TM: Any current or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Karissa: My most current project, and my biggest to date, is the role I am playing in Carrie. I am very excited about this role. Katie and I are playing friends of the main mean girl Chris. We are a part of her posse, responsible for tormenting Carrie throughout the film. It is a great opportunity for us, a huge project to be a part of and we are hoping it will be good exposure for us and will help lead to future film roles.
Katie:. It has been a busy summer for us so far shooting that and we are having such a great time!
We also have a little project we wrote and developed ourselves that we have been sitting on for a while and are hoping to bring to fruition by the end of summer. A little twin comedy piece we will be filming and hope might successfully go viral so we will see how that goes as well. Either way, we
are excited to finally get this project moving!
TM: What is your favorite movie genre, and what is your favorite movie of all time?
Karissa: My favorite movie genre is comedy. I am a sucker for stupid silly movies, I guess that says a lot about my sense of humor (laughs). I’m talking about the Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Steve Carell classics. My favorite movie of all time is Wedding Singer starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. I can recite pretty much every line and I still laugh, every time I watch it!
Katie: I actually don’t have a favorite genre. I like all types, depending on my mood. As far as my favorite movie….I have several but my
absolute favorite of all time is kind of a silly choice. I absolutely, absolutely LOVE the movie “The Wedding Singer”. Not the most amazing work ever made but I find it hilarious and no matter how many times I watch it, it never gets old…even if I do know every line of every character. Karissa
and I both love it and always find moments in everyday life to throw in the lines we find humorous to make each other laugh or pick up our mood. I also really like to see Adam Sandler in a more serious role than his usual style. Almost seems like a different person. Either way, I think it’s a “classic” if
you will (laughs) and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it!
TM: Who would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to acting and modeling?
Karissa: I would say my biggest influences in my acting work would be Audrey Hepburn and Johnny Depp. Both are amazingly talented performers. I have always admired Audrey’s grace and charm, and the person that she was, she was involved in a lot of humanitarian work, and that is something I would like to do as well. She also just had such a beautiful aura about her. And Johnny Depp, I believe, is self explanatory. He has never done a “bad” piece of work. It is amazing to me how fully he commits to each and every role he under takes, so believable and natural. His talent speaks for itself.
Katie: Anyone who started out like me and decided this is what they wanted to do with their life, busted their ass to get where they are and have made a successful name for themselves is an influence to me. It’s nice to look at the road to getting there for so many successful actors and actresses and
realize that they were once in the same place I am. Proves that persistence and having enough drive and desire to make it does pay off and drives me to continue no matter what rejection or negativity I face. As far as who I admire most for their talent, hands down, Johnny Depp. Again, he fought his
way up, did it on his own and has made a huge career for himself. Obviously, he is absolutely gorgeous, but he didn’t take the easy road and let being a heartthrob get him where he is. His talent is incredible and unmatchable and inspires me to want to work hard to try and be even half as talented. Not
only is his talent admirable but the way he has guided his career, in the choices he’s made for what projects to be a part of and who to work with etc. You know he doesn’t do it for the money or the fame but cares about the integrity of what he’s working on and invests himself completely in each role
he does. That’s the kind of career I want.
TM: Who would you most like to work with on a movie or television show?
Karissa: I would love to work with Will Ferrell or Kristen Wiig, I think they are both so funny and talented and it would probably be a very enjoyable experience. I was also very thrilled to find that Judy Greer is working on Carrie, I have been a long time fan of hers, so it is amazing to see her on set and be involved in scenes with her.
Katie: If I could be so lucky as to do even the tiniest role alongside Johnny Depp on any project, I would be absolutely thrilled and honored.
TM: What would be your dream role for a movie or television show?
Karissa: My dream role as of right now would be to land a lead role in a film. I love movies, I used to watch films and find myself overwhelmed with such immense appreciation for how the actors in the films were able to make me feel so much emotion and involvement in the story. It truly sparked my passion for this industry. I don’t have specifics on exactly what genre of film, or what I want my role to be, my mind is open to any possibilities that come my way. One thing I do wish for though, is to evoke those emotions in my audience.
Katie: I don’t necessarily have a “dream role”. What my dream would be is to have a successful and versatile film career with the opportunity to try all genres and a wide variety of roles. I don’t care about money or fame, I just hope not to get type cast as only being capable or desired for playing one type of role. I hope to be able to experience everything, challenge myself and be able to try roles that scare me or intimidate me or seem impossible to pull off and prove to myself that I can.
TM: What do you think is the scariest movie ever made, and which horror movies have freaked you out the most?
Karissa: Honestly, this is going to sound cheesy, considering I am going to be in the re-make, but bias aside, the horror movie I remember most from my childhood is, in fact Carrie. I just remember flashes of the horror of the prom scene!!! My sisters and I also used to have scary movie marathons, we loved horror movies growing up, and our movies of choice were always the Friday the 13th films. I think we watched all of them, probably 20 times over. It’s actually really cool, when you go through those movies, to see how many big stars had small roles in those films!
Katie: I’m actually a huge horror movie fan so they usually thrill me rather than freak me out. I’ve been watching them since I was young and I absolutely love them. I haven’t seen this movie in a long time but I tried to watch “Candyman” when I was younger and distinctly remember that movie most definitely freaked me out. I haven’t watched it since but perhaps ill give it another chance soon!
TM: What advice would you give others who want to break into acting and/or modeling?
Karissa: I would start off by asking them if they really, truly want it. This is not a casual industry, you have to really want it to stick with it, because it is tough, and you will face a lot of rejection before you find success. If you want it bad enough, then you’ve got to have a thick skin and stick with it. It is also all about self advocacy, 85% of your job, as an actor, is networking!!!
Katie: The advice I would give is, first of all, make sure you’re absolutely positive that this is really what you want for your life. People usually think of this profession as glamorous and fun but there’s a whole lot more to it! It’s a tough industry, it can wear you down and it takes everything you’ve got to
keep your head up and keep pushing forward. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of frustration so you really need to have thick skin!! Otherwise, what I live by is if you truly want it bad enough and you do all you can to make it happen, it will eventually come your way. You have to be willing to take
risks and put in the work, but if it’s what you truly want then I think it’s worth the struggle!!
Thank you to both Karissa and Katie! You guys are both awesome!
Interview: Karissa and Katie Strain (Carrie, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil)