JANET BAILEY - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
WRITER / PRODUCER / ACTOR / "4 TIME GEMINI NOMINEE"
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
JANET BAILEY Bio
In Brent Butt’s latest pilot effort Bailey played a lead role as the confident, owner of Piker’s Publishing Firm – Joyce Piker.
In Deepa Mehta’s screen version of The Republic of Love she plays the quirky ex-wife of Bruce Greenwood’s Tom Avery. The same year Bailey played opposite Greg Kinear in the feature film Godsend, starring Robert De Niro.
In the final season of the critically acclaimed series Slings and Arrows, Bailey plays soap opera diva Barbara Gorman, which she followed with the role of straight talking lawyer Susan Aimes on NBC’s Beautiful People.
Janet’s career in Theatre, Television and Film has won accolades in both Canada and the United States. She landed the part of Sarah in Atlantis Films Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad- her performance opposite Courtney B. Vance garnered Janet a Best Actress Gemini Nomination and when Race to Freedom screened at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, Bailey was introduced as “one of Canada’s best kept secrets”. Janet also had success in Episodic Television with her work on Traders, Atlantis Films’ hour long drama series where she portrays Susannah Marks, this role would garner Janet her second and third nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
After viewing her interpretation of a sweet, but streetwise prostitute, Velma Fontaine, in the television movie Spencer Ceremony, New York Magazine singled Janet out as “meriting a movie of her own” and finally for her portrayal of Harriet in Global television’s Blue Murder. Bailey would receive her fourth Gemini nomination, this time in the category of Best actress in a guest role.
Other significant roles include her poignant performance as an HIV infected mother in the feature film Survivors. Sharee, the supportive friend of Wendy Cruisins’ Jane Doe in the CBC drama, The Many Trials of One Jane Doe and Irene Garrison the mother fighting for the custody of her child in CTV’s the eleventh hour.
After a twelve year absence from the stage Bailey received glowing reviews as Mrs. Muller in The Sudbury Theatre Centre’s production of Doubt.
Janet is a graduate of the The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where she studied under the tutelage of Sandford Meisner.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
A little bit about myself....Here we go: Truly, I'm in love with children. They possess a quality of truth that takes you right back to what life is all about. I have a great faith, though I don't read the word enough, so perhaps it wavers....but I love God. It would be nice to find my husband. This is probably the last chapter in my mom’s life and that's very difficult for me. On many levels, I have to learn to let go and let God, instead of always speaking out.......also difficult for me. eh hem.......next question. Oh yeah, I love music, I love to dance, I love character driven movies. I love hot yoga and I love chocolate oat delight cookies.
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
I'm very domestic. Not that I'm a great cook. But I think I could be. You know when you're cooking for others, or that special person......you know....you try harder. Love to clean the home, listening to good music. Love old fashion men. Not to be confused with stifling. Just kind and gentle and encouraging. Not easily threatened. Quiet confidence. Love intelligent sermons. Authentic speakers of truth. Also, it wasn't until quite recently that I realized I could do something other than act. For a long time thinking that was all I could do was very limiting for me and it kind of chipped away at my confidence. Teaching Drama, has opened up so many doors for me.
What's your inspiration, how do you handle disappointments and get motivated?
The word inspires me. Prayer. Father God. An intelligent authentic sermon inspires me. Dr. Audley James inspires me. The Pastors and musicality of the service at Revival Times inspires me. Genuine kindness and a smile......total inspiration. My Grandma, My pops, My mom, my Uncles. The children, my students inspire me. Teachers, good teachers inspire me. Courage, humility, humour, passion, talent, nature......an artist uses all that inspiration. Every night before I went on stage to play 'Miss Muller' in the play "Doubt", I would say out loud exerts from Martin Luther King’s "I have a Dream" speech. 'I've seen the promise land..... I may not get there with you' ect. I'm motivated to bring inclusive stories to screen so that people of colour feel included in the big picture of life. Particularly our children, many of whom seem lost in the system of education.
* Also, I've had the greatest teachers of Dance/Drama/voice/figure skating - My parents truly gave me every opportunity really. They inspired a discipline that has never left me. Being exposed to everything throughout my formative years allows you to realize that all things are possible for all people. My parents and my Grandma Iris Levy were my greatest inspirations also my aunts and uncles.
How did you get to where you are now and what more do you hope to achieve?
How did I get where I am? - How did I get where I am...........hmmmmmmmmmmm..... I'm told only he has the plan and it was set long before I was conceived........but from a worldly perspective......
Lots of mistakes........lots and lots of mistakes and than the ability to wipe yourself off and get back up. Just keep showing up for life. Try to keep your heart open. Difficult at times. The word, always the word.
What should you expect?
A full life. Shared joy and pain. I would like to bring stories to screen and stage. I have a feeling that's what should be expected. Rich story telling. Collaborative efforts. Guiding children.
What work would I like to be remembered for?
You know, to be able to use Drama as a tool of empowerment, in a manner that assists children and therefore their communities is truly truly rewarding. So I'd like to be remembered one day as a studied child of God, a good daughter, a loving yet strict Drama teacher. God willing a good and nurturing wife and mom. Someone who truly believed in justice and equality for all and acted on it. An advocate I suppose (if you have to give it a title), although one hopes we just speak our truth, without agenda, in consideration of all people. A loyal friend. Man, someone who just keeps taking the journey, even when the going gets tough. Someone, with a sense of humor........can't forget that.........Lord we can't forget that!!! Someone who fought (with his grace) to bring rich character driven inclusive stories to screen. One hopes they will inspire.... the audience will have to determine that.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
Oh I have time. There's always time.
Best Food, Music, Movie & Book:-
Favourite food - I used to love Christmas morning breakfast. Bami, ackee and salt fish, grapefruit to start, Hardo bread, Fried dumplins. Boiled bananas - Breakfast West Indian Style.
Fave book - "Tumbling" , "Bible" (though it still intimidates me), "The old Settler". "The complete works of Shakespeare (also intimidating)
Music - blues, jazz, R&B, blue grass, hip hop, gospel, rap, classical
Fave movies - "Guess whose coming to dinner", "Ordinary People", "Falling in love"
My Experience as a Black person in Canada..
Oh.........so now the loaded questions? Lets see. This is the country I was born in. In a sense its my home. I say that with question because I'm so rooted in the experience of being raised in a West Indian Home. You know one of the most beautiful experiences you can have as a Canadian is to travel on the subways of Toronto, or any of the transit really; because that's where you truly see a nation where people have learned to come together, all of us. That said, the denial of Black History in the system of education has done a number on the black community. Its like not telling the truth about the founding of a nation (including our native brothers and sisters) and by doing so, there is a large number of people who feel somewhat excluded. You see if we tell the truth about history, than the heroes might look a little different. The good guys might not look so heroic. The playing ground of who contributed what will be made level, then we will all come to the table with mutual respect and understanding for each other’s efforts regarding our nation.
Jamaicans are proud people. My parents made no apology for who we were or where we were rooted, so I could enjoy Canada knowing that every opportunity was mine to reach. I have felt the bitter taste of racism in my homeland, its subtle, which is worse for the children because they don't know what just hit them. Again, we must teach them their history. If they know that they come from a history of people who triumphed despite the obstacles; if we teach them not just of the Underground railroad, but of the inventors, and doctors, and engineers and scientists, artists, and cowboys that contributed to this nation and others.......ah halleluyah, our men will walk taller! We have to know the truth about ourselves and our strengths.
Opportunities in Canada re role models, leaders, artists:
Look, we have to learn to love ourselves. That will take care of the opportunities. If we are undermining each other to get ahead.....there's a problem. Again, it goes back to knowing who you are. Your history.
Black Artists, Leaders, Role Models, I admire:
Roy Bailey, a man who came from humble beginnings in Jamaica ran an Immigration law office and assisted many immigrants in finding legal status in Canada.
Dr. Audley James - perhaps the greatest preacher I've ever known. He brought me closer to God than I've even been and literally saved my life.
Jeremiah Jones (True Nova Scotian) Canadian Soldier (Famous Battle of Vimy Ridge)
Viola Desmond (Before Rosa Parks, there was Viola Desmond) - sat in the white section in the movie theatre and what ensued is an ugly stain in Canadian History.
Elijah McCoy - ah yes, now he's the real McCoy. Kept the trains running with this invention
Donna Nurse - A writer to be reckoned with.
When we truly embrace all of who we are, we will truly support one another.