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Setting the stage

Western sparked performance ‘fire’ for Tate Kenney, BA’14

by Angie Wiseman

Blonde woman

For Tate Kenney, BA’14, the feeling of performing on stage during her first year at Western sparked something inside her. “I got a small role in a play at Conron Hall. It set me on fire in the best way. I was immersed in it. I couldn’t imagine ever letting it go,” she said.

Acting wasn’t in the realm of possibility for the small-town daughter of a police officer father and marketing analyst mother – until she arrived at university.

“Western gave me all of the resources to feed my talent and my passion to become an actor,” she said.

After completing her degree – one she calls a “family affair” since her parents weren’t able to pursue postsecondary education – Kenney began studying in the two-year Conservatory Program at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City. The school’s alumni include names like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sally Field, Marilyn Monroe, Claire Danes and Angelina Jolie.

She absorbed every ounce of the experience.

“While I lived in New York, I found out about the rush policy for Broadway plays. If you go the day of, you can get any seat left for $29. I saw 23 plays the first year I lived there. I did that instead of dinner a lot. I wanted to see everything. I wanted to have an opinion,” she said.

While studying in New York, Kenney received the Vincent D'Onofrio Scholarship Award for lifelong dedication to method acting. She trained with the veteran American character actor in an invitation-only master class. Since, Kenney has assisted him in his master classes for students at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Kenney also starred in several productions at the Lee Strasberg Theatre during her time as a student.  

After completing her training, she workshopped plays at the legendary Actors Studio and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, performed Off-Off Broadway at New Perspectives Theater and as part of the Future is Female Festival.

Kenney made her television debut this past year in the leading role of true-crime victim Erin Belanger on Investigation Discovery’s The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas.

She recently made the move back to Canada for a job with an agency in Toronto while she works on her artist’s visa, which will allow her to return to New York.

“I’ll go anywhere for a job I love. It all feeds into community and mentorship. Everyone’s in it together. Art is such a collective,” she said.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Alumni Gazette
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