Spotlight on Alumni: Fiorella Pennano
A theatre, film and television actor, Fiorella Pennano (BFA Acting 2013) came to York as an international student and is now a real working professional. She was born in Lima, Peru and came to Toronto in 2009 for her BFA. She was nominated in 2010’s Toronto My Theatre Awards for Best Ensemble along her classmates for Karfiol Kollektiv’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui production and in 2015 she was nominated for Best Theatre Actress at the LUCES awards for her work in Stop Kiss in her home country. Now she has a permanent role in the TV series Ven Baila Quinceañera and is getting ready for her next feature film.
What attracted you to York in the first place?
It’s an inter-disciplinary program. I’ve always known that I wanted to study theatre, but I wanted to study it all. In its first year, York gives a taste of every aspect of theatre, stagecraft, collective creation and acting, so that way you get to try it all. That gave me a broad aspect of the craft and allowed me to really get a sense of what theatre is. Especially because you get to work in the big shows as crew. Also, its Acting Conservatory: I had done my research and I knew that I wanted to do it.
What was your favourite place at York, and why?
Burton Auditorium. When I was at York, Burton theatre was already closed and being used for storage. It’s sad, but that silent stage is so beautiful. It has a kind of a spooky feeling to it. It’s really cool and magical. When you are in there it feels like you are in a place from the past.
What did you do the first summer out of the program?
Thanks to the advice from Melee Hutton, my fourth year acting teacher, I had joined the online Equity newsletter. I received an audition notice for that year’s Summerworks show by Aluna Theatre, and I auditioned. It was already a must for me to go and audition for them since it’s the most representative Latin American theatre company in Canada. I was very lucky to get the lead role and be a part of Camila’s Bones coming right out of school because I could apply everything I had just learned and start a real practice. Since then I have been active in the business, and I try to keep my own personal practice going. I thinks it’s the only way to keep growing as an actor.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the dept.?
Do your best. Trust, and have fun.
Do you have any photos of your time at York that you’d be willing to share with our web audience?
Yes. The first picture is with Eric Rich. We were scene partners when we did Restoration Theatre in third year acting, we had a blast. The second is also in third year’s movement class dancing a piece from the M
oor’s Pavane with Mishka Thebaud, Sheri Godda and Rodrigo Trigueros.
Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?
Of course! My classmates are the most valuable thing I got from York. Spending time with those incredible artists, sharing with them, growing with them is what has made me the artist I am today. Having to spend all those hours together practicing developed a real stage connection. When we came out of school, as a class we created a collective and we remounted one of the shows we had done as a class. I have learned so much from them and I still do—I could be working on the other side of the world but I still have them present in my practice. They will be with me forever.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at York?
There are so many valuable things that I learned at York’s acting conservatory, the importance of breath, the greatness of grounding myself, the need for listening. But I will never forget the words of my voice teacher Eric Armstrong, “First you think you know, then you know you don’t know, then you learn, then you think you don’t know, but you know.” That made me learn to trust myself, which I think is the best.