Winnipeg-born actor, Michael Strickland, has recently opened a brand-new acting studio to help prepare local actors for the ever-growing film industry in Winnipeg.

“Having booked the most roles of my career in the last three years, I would say that Winnipeg is making massive headway toward becoming a true hub for filmmaking in Canada.”

Strickland’s most recent starring role is opposite Keshia Knight Pulliam as her husband, Terrence, in The Hillsdale Adoption Scam.

Indeed, Winnipeg’s film industry is booming, with new productions and studios popping up all over the city. As an ever-growing and vibrant sector of the city’s economy, Winnipeg is home to several production companies and studios, as well as a growing number of independent filmmakers. The city is also home to several world-class film festivals, which showcase the best of Canadian and international cinema.

Another draw to film in Winnipeg is the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, which provides a rebate of up to 40% of eligible production expenses. The doubling of this tax credit for filmmakers was put in place in 2019 (from $16 million to now $31.5 million). This, coupled with airlines now offering direct flights to and from Los Angeles, has made Winnipeg a hot spot for the film industry in Canada.

In addition to The Hillsdale Adoption Scam, other recent hits filmed locally in Winnipeg include Violent Night (David Harbour), Blood (Michelle Monaghan), Nobody (Bob Odenkirk), and Champions (Woody Harrelson), as well as the hit TV series The Spencer Sisters (Lea Thompson). Strickland appeared in Blood and The Spencer Sisters. It’s this recent boom in business that has Strickland excited about helping grow the future of Winnipeg’s film industry.

“It has been an unforgettable experience to work with such high-caliber professionals. As a fan of a lot of their work, like anyone, I just want to chat their ear off and get to know them – but as a professional, I want to be open and offer as much as I can to them while staying true to the scene. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the screen with to this date has been very open to “playing” in the moment.”

This “playing” is exactly what drew Strickland to the career choice of acting in the first place:

“Long story short, when I was a kid, I played a comedic character in a dance performance, and it made all of the parents laugh. When I heard their laughter, I knew at that moment that I wanted to do this forever.”

In addition to being an actor, a husband, and a dad, Strickland is also an entrepreneur.

“I’ve always wanted to open a studio in Winnipeg, but I wanted to be able to bring something to the city that we typically don’t see. If someone were to ask you: where is the best place in Canada for the film industry, both for training and opportunities? Most people would say Vancouver or Toronto. When I was younger, I saw that Winnipeg was this gem hidden in the shadows, and it drove me crazy. It STILL drives me crazy. I knew that Winnipeg has both actors and film crew that were just as good as theirs, but with acting, one of the biggest things I felt we were missing was certain training.”

Strickland saw this as an opportunity to not only gain some knowledge for himself, but also to share it with his hometown.

“The reality is there are lots of training opportunities outside of Winnipeg that many local actors may never get to experience. At the time, I had the opportunity to make the move out to Vancouver and travel to Los Angeles to get as much knowledge as I could, and bring it back home for everyone. I want nothing more than for Winnipeg to be viewed as a top-tier city for the industry because we have extremely passionate and talented actors and filmmakers. The industry has never been busier or more vibrant in Winnipeg, and there is so much more to come.”

At this current time, The Winnipeg Actors Academy is running filmmaking classes for kids and teens, along with Scene Study class for adults. Topics tend to change each term depending on demand. Strickland also offers private coaching and self-tape services.

When asked about his humble beginnings, Strickland said he’ll never forget booking his first role. “It was actually voice-over for a cartoon series called Lanfeust Quest where I got to play three different characters. I still do voice-over work to this day, and I’m usually cast as a villain. I absolutely love it. DaCapo Productions and the team here in Winnipeg have become my home away from home.”

For aspiring actors, Strickland encourages a persistent attitude. “If you audition and you don’t book it, keep going. There are many reasons as to why you didn’t book it – many of which are things you wouldn’t think of, and most of which are completely out of your control. If you audition and you do book it, keep calm. Stay humble, stay grounded. Don’t get too big for your britches and never forget where you came from.”

Catch Michael Strickland in The Hillsdale Adoption Scam, airing March 18th on Lifetime at 8/7 CST.

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About The Winnipeg Actors Academy

The Winnipeg Actors Academy is an ideal Acting School for students to prepare for a career in the industry.