The next time you see a sporting goods ad on TV or watch a film that features any high-adrenaline action, take a closer look at the actors. Recognize them? They may be your neighbours.
See, athletics and health is a big industry today and many companies and casting directors are seeking out real athletes to fill roles on screen. A Vancouver-based sports agency, Action Talent, has built up a substantial roster of athletes/actors and many, it turns out, are from the Sea to Sky region.
Today, Connie and Annalise deBoer, a mother-and-daughter team of dedicated businesswomen with a solid knowledge of the film industry, run the agency. Originally from Alberta, Annalise started out in the industry modeling and acting. Eventually she became interested in working behind the camera, going on to study film production at Vancouver Film School. But an interest in talent management lingered from her days growing up acting and modeling. Eventually Annalise's agent in Calgary, Patti Falconer, formed a partnership with Connie, bringing her in to the business to open an agency in Vancouver.
"She got us so interested in it and she said 'you know, you need to get out to Vancouver because that's really Hollywood North," Connie recalled.
They both came out to work at that agency and eventually got word that a businesswoman was interested in selling her action talent management company, Action Talent. That businesswoman was another well-known Whistler resident, Sherry Boyd, partner of legendary skier Rob Boyd.
Boyd's niche talent management model, which focuses on finding athletes who specialize in a range of sports to play parts in films and TV shows, fascinated the women immediately. Here's how it usually works: a casting director or client comes to Action Talent with a role to fill. Then, Annalise and Connie sift through their roster of athletes and create a list of people who fit the requirements. They give that list to the client to filter through. Finally, a shortlist of candidates audition and, with luck, someone is cast in the role.
Connie purchased the business in 2008 and the deBoers have been running the agency for almost a year and a half now. Boyd still consults occassionally, bringing her expertise and athletic connections to the table.
The deBoers were fortunate to start out with an established roster, and have added significantly to it. Today, their list of athletes has reached almost 500, almost three-quarters of whom are from the Sea to Sky area. Those athletes are involved in over 100 different types of sports and activities, ranging from recreational to advanced, expert, professional and sponsored professional.
"We really prefer quality versus quantity. Even though we have that many people on the roster, we cover so many different sports that really, per sport, that's not a ton," Annalise said. "We have a vast array of people, but we kind of sort through and make sure that the person's skill level is high, but also that they'll represent our agency properly."