Juno Rinaldi's acting career almost didn't take off because she was supposed to be slicing meat at a deli counter.
It seems ridiculous, considering she's amassed dozens of credits since — and on big name shows like Arrow, Fringe, Supernatural and Workin' Moms.
But back in 1994, she was just a grade 12 student in British Columbia, presented with the opportunity to audition for award-winning director Anne Wheeler's The War Between Us.
There was just one problem: she couldn't get out of her shift at the deli.
"And I tried to get out of it a couple of times!" Rinaldi laughed.
Eventually, she managed to weasel her way out of it, auditioned, and got the part. It was a formative point in her life, and led to a successful acting career.
'I think we're going to see a huge change in the film and TV industry in Hamilton, and we're just at the beginning.'
- Juno Rinaldi
Now, Rinaldi and her partner Shaun Smyth are launching a brand new local film school called the Hamilton Film Centre, in the hopes of fostering that love for the screen in a new generation.
While most acting programs in Hamilton focus on theatre work, the centre's goal is to prepare people for the film industry in a practical way, Rinaldi says — and offer guidance that she didn't really have when she embarked on her career.
"At the time, I really had no idea what I was doing," she said. "There is something to be said for just balls out going for it, but there's also so, so much to learn."
The programs, which launch at The Cotton Factory in early September, have classes for ages nine and up. Then in November, the pair is launching classes for ages 17 to 21, and 21 and up.
Classes focus on the art of the craft, she says, like audition techniques, breaking down scripts and getting a feel for characters.
But they also deal with practical elements, like the dos and don'ts of being on set, and how to read a call sheet.
Rinaldi will even be offering sage advice like not eating all the ice cream set in front of you for a scene on the first take.
"Seriously, don't eat it all. We're going to be here for four hours," she said.
Rinaldi, who has been living in Hamilton for four years, says the school will offer programs to locals who ordinarily would have had to go to Toronto. She also hopes it will help with the city's burgeoning film and TV scene, which has recently hosted shoots from big shows like The Handmaid's Tale and American Gods.
"I think we're going to see a huge change in the film and TV industry in Hamilton, and we're just at the beginning," she said. "I'd love to see this be its own industry, and not a Toronto offshoot.
"Wouldn't it just be such an exciting thing for this to be a destination?"