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Kirby earns rare National Theatre School spot

Wahsontiio Kirby, whose acting days began with the Turtle Island Theatre program, has now risen through the ranks to join the National Theatre School of Canada. (File photo)

In what was her biggest and most daunting challenge yet, Wahsontiio Kirby became one of the few locals to be accepted into the National Theatre School of Canada, and she begins her studies this fall

The young actress is still in awe to see how far her efforts have brought her.

“Her words were literally ‘we’d like to give you a place in our first year for 2017-2018’ and I stopped for about 10 seconds, I was so shocked and she kept asking if I was breathing because I guess I was just freaking out, it was crazy and I thought it was a dream” Kirby said, after receiving the golden ticket of phone calls.

To qualify, she had to outdo applicants from across Canada and was one of only 12 individuals selected for this fall.

The limited space speaks volumes about the prestige of the NTSC as a beacon of nationwide talent.

“I remember going in and just thinking this is a one in a million chance to do my best. I left feeling good and forgot about it for a while because after you audition you have to forget, otherwise you’re going to dwell on it.”

The audition consisted of two monologues; one was Joan of Arc from Henry VI, Part 1. The other was from Quiara Hudes Water by the Spoonful, a notable Latina-American playwright.

“I saw a lot of similarities between our culture so I took that monologue and kind of made it into one about Kahnawake, in a way.” She said.

Two months later she was invited to the Montreal callback and learned she was in the top 20. Two weeks later she found out she was one of only 12 from the whole country to be accepted into the school.

Her journey began with the Turtle Island Theatre and she graduated this year from the three-year long Professional Theatre Program at Dawson College, which in itself is a challenging feat.

During this time, she played remarkable roles such as Hero from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Mattie Fae in their adaptation of August: Osage County.  The experience and life lessons she learned are priceless.

“Stick it out and persevere, at times it can be one of the hardest things you’ve probably ever done and you’re vulnerable, trusting all these people and just completely giving yourself over and connecting with others every day, all day.” Kirby said.

One of her final assignments was to recreate iconic Canadian feminist Doris Anderson’s Rebel Daughter so that it would fit a more diverse cast.

“I was one of four writers and the original script was pretty limiting, it only really talked about white feminism in Canada, so I wanted to create a voice for the women of colour in my class because there were many of us and we all had a lot to offer. By writing roles that would pertain to us, our race and our culture for the play, it helped us develop the performance.” She said.

Her family is extremely proud of her success story and continues to applaud her path to success and many, many encores.

“It’s absolutely wonderful. She is dedicated, talented and most deserving,” said her mother Melanie Phillips.

“She persevered and never gave up to reach this level, even through many difficult situations and tough major decisions that she encountered. Our family is so proud of her.”

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