The Shakespeare Challenge has begun! 11 members of the GTA community have teamed up, are fundraising, and are rehearsing The Tempest with our Founding Artistic Director, Michael Kelly.
They’ll all step into the spotlight for the gala performance on Saturday, February 23rd, at the historic Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.
All proceeds support access to the arts through Shakespeare in Action’s ticket subsidy program, TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, and Shakespeare Fight Club.
Meet Shakespeare Challenge participant, Jessie Behan!
To support Jessie, click here!
JESSIE BEHAN – I grew up as a closet dancer, singer, and actor. I would often perform with my sisters for our parents at the family cottage but that’s it. We were an athletic family, not a performing arts family. It wasn’t until my mom took me to see a bunch of live theatre – some of my first experiences being Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Phantom of the Opera, and Beauty and the Beast – that I was able to see all those people up on stage having the time of their lives. I went on to see more theatre but this time in my community, of people I knew, and something registered in me that theatre was something that I TOO, COULD DO! Why not?
I signed up for every drama class I could throughout all of high school and performed in the drama festival every year while attending McGill University in Montreal. I attended a 7-month acting school in Australia called The Actor’s Pulse, was a participant in a crazy YouTube Video that received 9 million hits worldwide, had numerous agents and went to countless auditions, participated in many fringe festival shows, watched hundreds of hours of television wishing I wasn’t the one-who-didn’t-get-the-job. I thought: “there has got to be a way where I can still have performing arts in my life while having financial stability and stimulating my brain.”
Well it worked out. I decided to enter back into the financial world since I grew up with family in the business, got a degree in finance, and had experience cold calling. I got licensed to sell investment products and worked as a sales assistant at the Bank of Montreal for several Investment Advisors and was an inside wholesaler at Mackenzie Investments before landing in my current position as a Regional Sales Manager at Redwood Asset Management. I love my company, clients, and the industry as a whole.
Since then, I’ve completed a 2 years Second City Conservatory Program where I developed amazing improv skills that help me in my daily sales meetings. I’ve recorded 17 episodes of an animation series where I play a little boy named Alex. I’ve also participated in many fun sketch comedy charity shows and community plays. I’m currently working on writing a film and putting on a one-woman show about a crazy lady with A.D.H.D…it may be me!
Why are you taking The Shakespeare Challenge?
Part of the reason that I took on the Shakespeare Challenge had to do with the fact that I love a good challenge and I think I do have a fear of failure when it comes to his plays. I also had a New Year’s resolution that was to take the focus off of myself and give back to the community by volunteering somewhere. This opportunity was presented to me and I jumped on it. I saw this as a way that I could volunteer my acting skills, something that I love to do, while raising money for an amazing cause at the same time.
I grew up studying Shakespeare in high school and university but never thought to audition for any of his plays. Part of that might have been out of fear since the language and characters are so complex but I think it was also because I didn’t fully appreciate or understand how brilliant his writing truly was until I got older when I saw my first play live on stage. I wish I had seen one of his shows at a young age and would love to give youth in our community that experience.
If I can do what I love while giving children the gift of Theatre…well then I think I have fulfilled my New Year’s resolution and will hopefully put a smile on a child’s face. I feel so privileged that I had the opportunity as a young girl to experience live theatre and would love to pay that forward so Shakespeare In Action is the perfect program to make that happen!
Help Jessie achieve her goal by donating to her Giving Page: