Culture

Life with Burden of Truth's Kristin Kreuk

The actor talks internet-obsessions, recommended reads and the idea that women need to be likeable at work.

The actor talks internet-obsessions, recommended reads and the idea that women need to be likeable at work

When Burden of Truth lands back on screens on January 8 for its third season, Kristin Kreuk's character, Joanna Chang, a big city lawyer who's moved back home to her small town, finds herself in two major predicaments. First, she's thrown into helping an old friend whose children have just been taken away from her because her addiction issues and past have come back to haunt her. Then, as her firm is recalibrating, Kreuk's character is forced to look at how she interacts with colleagues. It's implied that she needs to be more likeable — a storyline that could be ripped from the modern day workplace. 

For Kreuk, who started acting almost 20 years ago when a casting director reached out to her high school in Vancouver, BC, where she was born and raised, life currently doesn't imitate art. "Set [is] a funny place, because that's my office," she says. "As an actor, it's oddly accepted if you are horrible. And so the struggle is different. But I do feel in my life I've always tried to be likeable enough, but create enough distance and feel safe." 

"I do think there is a large amount of pressure on women to be likeable," she continued. "I think that it's very helpful to portray women as just people who are likeable or not likeable and in the show, I hope we're able to do that to a degree." 

We sat down with Kreuk on CBC's Winter Media day to talk about life beyond the show, as well. Here she discusses her recommended reads, the quirky posters she had on her wall as a teenager, how she defines success right now, and more. 

On your Instagram you often post your monthly reads. What are three of the best books that you've read in the last year?

I loved Normal People. I read that in a second.I just finished Amity and Prosperity, which I thought was excellent. I'm reading Three Women right now.

You also recommended an A Tribe called Quest book.

Yeah, that was great. Did you read it?

No, I haven't read it, but I was going to ask what posters did you have on your wall as a kid?

Don't ask me that. [laughs]

Was Tribe on your wall?

No, I had trees. I had pictures of trees.

Pictures of trees?

Yep, that's all I had.

I was thinking maybe N*Sync.

Nope, not into boy bands, really anti-boy bands, ultimately, but I think I was more drawn to nature as a way... I didn't understand why I would put posters on my walls, I don't think.

If there's one thing that you could say to your nine-year-old self, what would you say?

'It's okay that you don't fit in. It's okay to exist slightly on the edge.' And in fact, I think I would tell her that most people feel that way. It's not a strange feeling, it's just that everybody deals with it in different ways.

You've been acting for a while.

Yeah, almost 20 years.

How do you define success right now?

Oh, I think that is interesting. I haven't thought about it really, but I feel pretty successful at this moment. I feel like being able to be part of a project that I believe in, that speaks to my values, that portrays people in complicated ways, that allows human beings to be flawed and that also looks at important and pressing issues. For me that's pretty successful. But success is not only career, success is a very full experience of living. I would define it as having close and meaningful relationships, work that moves you, whether or not that is gaining traction in the outside world is less important but also important, and being able to be enriched intellectually. I think those things are all really important.

What do you do when you have downtime on set? 

There isn't a lot of downtime on set, on our show. We do a lot of pages in a day. It goes by really, really quickly. Peter [Mooney] had us doing LSAT questions.

No big deal.

Yeah, there's a lot of chitchatting and goofing around and enjoying the outdoors because we're often on location, grabbing a coffee, little things. But [there's] a lot of line running because there's a lot of lines — a lot of prep that way.

And speaking of Winnipeg and being on set, do you have any favourite places in Winnipeg for food or coffee or even art or anything?

Winnipeg has great food and coffee and art. There's a bunch of coffee shops, from Little Sister to Thom Bargen to Fools & Horses. Those are the main three that we all love. And then there are some wonderful restaurants like Segovia and the downstairs one... Sous Sol. Winnipeg's interesting because you can just go walk down to The Forks and I find that even the art that you see as you walk through that area is lovely. They have Nuit Blanche too. It's a little small — a lot smaller than Toronto so it's not as chaotic, which is nice.

I'm going to ask a few rapid-fire questions.

Oh God.

Do you have a fave makeup look?

Natural.

What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?

Check my phone. Brush my teeth and have a shower.

If you had a free weekend, what movie or show would you binge watch?

Like right now? I'm really struggling. I can't find any shows I want to watch right now. But I want to go see Honey Boy and I would like to watch The Irishman.

Do you have a celebrity crush?

Do I have a celebrity crush? Like, who do I like? Oscar Isaac. Total babe.

Who's the one person that, if stuff was going down, would be that person for you?

I have two people. My boyfriend and my really good friend Rose.

Do you have any secret internet obsessions?

I always get secret internet obsessions. If I really love an actor, I start watching all their interviews. I watch all their interviews on that British talk show host…. Graham Norton. So, Olivia Coleman, who I love, I'll just like watch all of her interviews and then go down YouTube tunnels. And I also love houseplant videos.

What does a houseplant video entail?

They talk about care or certain growth things that I enjoy.

And lastly, what makes you nervous?

Everything. I get nervous about many things. Talking in front of people. At work, we have a lot of court stuff that stresses me out entirely. Any time I have to just be around a lot of people that I don't know and talk to them.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Season 3 of Burden of Truth premieres Wednesday, January 8 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service.

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