Interview With Actor Antonio Cayonne

By Ruth on February 9, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Because Appetite For Love holds such a treasured place in my heart (I got to interview both male leads–Andrew Walker and Marcus Rosner–and they were kind enough to let a novice feature them), I often find myself going back to my review of that film and attempting to connect with the supporting cast of that momentous film. In the case of Antonio Cayonne, I was so pleased to see that he is again being featured in a Valentine’s film on Hallmark, and it was a great joy when he agreed to answer a few questions about his journey to become an actor, his current and notable works, and his general outlook on the industry and life as a whole.

RH: Why did you decide to become an actor? What kind of training have you received? 

AC: In grade six, on a day off from school, I was at my mother’s school (she was a teacher) wandering the halls when I stumbled across a film crew holding auditions for Kids TV (later became Popular Mechanics for Kids), and with nothing else to do, I auditioned. And I somehow got the job! I then spent a year interviewing all sorts of interesting people around Ontario and learning a lot about the mechanics of making a show. I wanted to pursue acting classes and get an agent when that finished, but my father gave me a hard “no” on that one.

I never thought twice about it until I was in high school. A sports-related injury meant that I couldn’t take a couple of gym classes. The guidance counselor, Ms.Oliver, put me in grade ten and eleven drama in a single semester as a way to keep my timetable full. The teachers at the time weren’t entirely impressed with my being dropped into their classes and weren’t all that helpful in catching me up. With lots to prove, I worked hard to prove them wrong. In the process, I discovered that I loved it. From there Mrs.Green put me in the school play – Freddie in Noises Off – and then convinced me to apply to the Ryerson Theatre School and that was it. I got in and never looked back. There have been a lot of people who have shaped the way I think, and approach work, but none more than the teachers (Peter Wylde and Ian Watson to name two) who taught me to love the classics. I was also lucky to spend ten years in Toronto working in theatre with some amazing playwrights, artists, and creators who influenced the way I approach the work.

Please tell us about your experience with Ties That Bind

I moved to Vancouver to focus on film and television and have been lucky to have found some nice roles and gotten on some great sets. The first thing I booked here was Ties That Bind. It was a cool role, not only because of the scene I got to play, but because it was Dion Johnstone’s first lead role on television. He’s a great actor who has spent years on stage honing his craft, and it was very encouraging to see him succeed.

Antonio Cayonne as Lucien

Hallmark audiences noticed you for the first time in the network “Countdown to Valentine’s” Appetite For Love. How did you land this role? What was it like working with the leads?

I had an amazing time working on Appetite for Love! It was my first Hallmark movie, and I hope I get to do many more. Hallmark is a nice place to work your craft and be a part of positive stories. The leads on that show were kind, gracious, and friendly. I’ve kept in touch with them a bit, and am actually working with Marcus {Rosner} again right now. It’s nice to find your way on set and discover that the people there share your values and your passion. I met the director during the audition and knew right away that I liked him – he was very detail-oriented and had a clear idea about what he wanted, which made it really easy to create and play. To be honest, what I enjoyed most about Lucien was finding ways to make relationships real with very few lines. Lucien wasn’t a main focus, but it was nice to be part of the environment and bring his opinion or point of view into sharp focus during fleeting moments within a scene to help tell the story.

Since that movie, you got a recurring role on iZombie. Please tell us how that role came about and what that experience was like. Any special behind-the-scenes moments stand out?

iZombie stands out more so from a casting point of view for me. The casting directors who booked me for that show – and have since booked me for a few others – created a very safe space within which to audition, which made it really easy to do my work. Often, auditions can be nerve-wracking, or stressful, but I don’t experience that in their room, which makes auditioning for them very enjoyable, and a chance to actually act and play without feeling the pressure of getting the job.  Once I got on set, the coolest behind-the-scenes moment would be getting extensive make-up to make it look as though I was frozen. The make-up artist was kind enough to talk me through the theory of what she was doing, and how she achieved the effect as she was applying the make-up.

I see that you’ve also been in some very well-known shows (The Romeo Section, Lucifer, Aftermath, Bates Motel). While I am certain all of those roles stand out in some way, please tell us about anything special or memorable on any of these shows that you’d like to. 

Two of those shows stand out more than any of the others: Bates Motel and Aftermath.

On Bates Motel, I got to work with Nestor Carbonell. I used to watch him on LOST as Richard Alpert! Nestor made that scene so easy because of the way he worked. Already deep in character, he managed to bring me up to speed, indoctrinate me into the “world” of the show, and create truths that we could share and live out in the scene, all in a very short period of time. That’s not an easy thing to do, but he made it seem so simple. I learned a lot from him in that short period of time.

Aftermath was amazing because it reunited me with a very old, very close friend. I originally met the director of the episode, April Mullen, in theatre school! She’s quite the artist, and has been an important friend over the years, so to land on a show that she was directing was a dream. And she’s SO good at what she does! I’m excited to see her film Below Her Mouth which hits theatres Friday, February 10th. On the same set, I got to work with Nils Hognestad (another good friend and brilliant actor from theatre school) and Courtney Richter (who was in Unleashing Mr. Darcy and is not only a very close friend but the one who advised me to move to Vancouver).

You are now returning to the Hallmark Channel for yet another “Countdown to Valentine’s” film in A Dash of Love. Please tell us about how you got this role, and what can you tell us about your character without spoiling the story?

A Dash of Love is going to be a sweet little love story. I’m back in the restaurant, but this time I’m not the chef, instead I’m the bartender. I’ll probably have a whole demo reel of me just doing things in restaurants one day! My character is Brendan Penny’s best bud, and works as a bartender at the restaurant where he’s the chef. I get to spend some time hearing him out as he navigates the new hire, played by Jen Lilley, while I bend his ear about the new server, played by the stunning Kandyse McClure! As with most of my experiences, the cast and crew of this show were a dream! I hope to work with them again sometime as we had great chemistry.

 Any other upcoming works you can mention? 

I’m currently enjoying a recurring role as John the Bartender on UnREAL, a fictionalized reality show starring Constance Zimmer. This season is going to be amazing! The cast that they’ve selected to play the suitors are a dynamic bunch who all bring something amazing to the table. Keep an eye out for Hallmark regular Marcus Rosner as a very charming cowboy!

Any plans to write/direct/produce eventually?

I’ve written two plays myself, and have produced and commissioned original works of theatre by amazing playwrights like Andrew Kushnir and Jordan Tannahill through our company Project: Humanity for many years. I’m no longer with P:H as I’ve moved out west to pursue other things, but my desire to create remains intact. I do have an interest in creating more of my own work. Last year, I shot a short film which I wrote and acted in – it served as a test for something more substantial. It was a great learning experience and was full of the kind of mistakes that help you grow. It was the first time I ever dared to put something on film, and I think I just had to get over the preciousness of thinking it was harder than it was. I like the whole medium of storytelling so it feels like that’s where I will eventually place my focus, but right now, one hundred percent of my attention is on further developing as an actor.

As an actor who is still relatively new to the film/television business, what would be your advice to other young people who are considering acting as a career?

Train. Take your time and train. There’s no rush. Coming from a theatre background, I’m so grateful that I got to spend so much time just enjoying the work, and learning how to do the work. I’m “new” to film and TV, insofar as having only devoted all my attention to it for the past two years, but I got to start training and working as an actor nearly fifteen years ago. Through running my own theatre company, developing new plays with playwrights, producing shows that have toured Canada, studying with varied teachers, working alongside a wide range of directors and actors, and creating my own work, I got to really fall in love with the craft. Taking all of that time to create, to train, and to learn makes my foray into television feel like part of a larger journey.

Since Hallmark has cast you in two “cooking” films at this point, let me ask this. What is your favorite kind of food to eat? Favorite drink? 

It’s funny that I keep being in restaurant movies or shows where I work in hospitality, because in my real life I work in hospitality and am very involved in the restaurant industry. Right now my favorite kind of food to eat is anything made by Chef Sean Reeve at The Mackenzie Room in Vancouver.  I’ve known him for years and think he’s putting out some fantastic dishes – two of my favorites being his Sea Urchin Pate and his Braised Beef Tongue on Bone Marrow.  I tend to like chefs more than “types of food.” My favorite drink is Scotch. Always Scotch.

Are there any causes/charities you actively support or feel strongly about?

Without getting too political, I will say that being an ALLY is the thing I’m most connected to personally. I have spent years working with my former company, Project: Humanity (www.projecthumanity.ca) to raise awareness through the arts. We have spent time in a variety of communities and the thing that always floats to the surface for me is the need for individuals and groups to be heard. We all need our voices to be heard, our stories to be told, and our lives to shed light on what needs to come next if we want to grow together as a people. With that in mind, being an ally, understanding what that means, and understanding the role your privilege plays in your daily life is a “cause” that I am wholeheartedly invested in. I could get much more into this, as activism is something that really ignites me, and injustice is something that really punctures me, but I’ll suffice it to say that today, more than ever, we need to be able to see each other without allowing our own narratives to cloud our vision. And we need to hear people without allowing our own stories to drown them out. We need to learn how to be ALLIES for those that need it the most, and understand that it will cost us something, but the return on investment will be greater than we could have ever imagined.

I cannot begin to relate to you the excitement that welled up within me as I reviewed Antonio’s answers. Regardless of the interview or the content, I take each one seriously and seek to discover the authentic person beneath the written or spoken words. Sometimes, it requires expanded thought and prayer as I attempt to delve beneath the surface of those who may intermittently be seen as actors who are on the periphery rather than in the limelight. But there are other times in which the actor presents himself transparently and openly shares from his heart. Those times can only be described as magical, and when that happens, I savor the moment with lavish enthusiasm. In the case of Antonio, I got far more than I bargained for. He shared himself with incredible attention to detail and in such tangible ways that I have a new level of respect for this man and his commitment to his craft and to humanity as a whole. It’s the age-old lesson that often still baffles the general public. Just because one is a supporting lead (or a minor character) with few lines does not mean that he or she has nothing to offer that is inspirational or maybe even provocative. On the contrary, those who may fade into the background because they are overshadowed by those with more substantial roles or more boisterous personalities frequently have insight they have gleaned from their astute observation and rapt contemplation. One of the drawbacks of written interviews is the absence of back and forth interactions, but Antonio has mastered this technique with such dexterity that this interview reads as an authentic exchange as opposed to a Q & A. I greatly anticipate Antonio’s future works as he continues to act, write, and direct, and I am fully convinced that Antonio is one of those exceptional individuals in this business who will continue to have success after success without demanding excessive credit. In his quiet and simple, but extraordinary way, he will be one who doesn’t merely talk about changing the world; he will “be that change that he wants to see in the world,” a true personification of this well-known quote by Mahatma Ghandi. For the present, please tune into A Dash of Love on the Hallmark Channel Saturday (February 11) night, and look towards the third season of UnREAL on Lifetime this summer. Additionally, I would ask that you check out Antonio’s links below, and consider following him on social media so that you can be a part of his incredible journey as he accomplishes every goal within his head, every dream within his heart, and every hope within his soul.

FOLLOW ANTONIO

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

IMDB

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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