Marilla Wex is an award-winning British actress, voice-artist and comedian who’s lived in Toronto for 11 years. Her one-woman show “Lost and Found” won Best of Fringe this summer at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
She is currently the Reader on the TV show “Reign” (she runs lines with the actors and speaks English at them. It’s kind of a weird job).
What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?
I met and fell in love with a guy in New York one Christmas. He was based in Toronto and couldn’t move to England because of his daughter, so I moved here! It was a major upheaval for me — restarting my career from scratch in another country. Luckily it turned out well!
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
I’m an actress so luckily my skills and qualifications are transferable! I sent my CV to five different agents and the best one picked me. I’ve done TV, film, stand-up, voice-work and theatre and currently work on the show “Reign” which films for nine months of the year in Etobicoke.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
The best: it’s easy to navigate, you can get good curry (I’m from Birmingham where you are obliged to eat curry at least once a fortnight for health reasons) and there’s always a need for a British accent. I can get away with big swears in my stand-up and Canadians still think I’m adorable.
The worst: the bloody winter. I have to shoot on location and it can be quite uncomfortable!
Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?
I meet lots of Brits through my work. There are quite a few ex-pats working in the business we call show — both in front of and behind the camera.
I actually met my closest British friend Jess in the check-in line at Gatwick airport; she was showing her mum her temporary visa in her passport the day she landed in Toronto as a permanent resident. I butted in like a nosey parker and we’ve been mates ever since.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
People underestimate the emotional impact moving to Canada is going to have. Make lots of connections as soon as you can because it can be quite lonely and the culture is more different than you probably anticipated.
It’s been brilliant for me professionally because I can do all the accents I couldn’t get arrested for in England. I’ve played a 50-year-old Scottish nanny in a commercial, an alcoholic traveller from Birmingham in a movie, a Mancunian trollop in “Murdoch Mysteries” and a Cockney abortionist in “Reign.”
Gor blimey, luv a duck! Cheers Marilla. Now exit stage left.
You can read more about Marilla at her website www.marillawex.com or on Twitter at @marillawex.