Sydney Imbeau walks in the room like a breath of fresh air. The sunny and bright 14 year old seems really happy to be where she is at the moment –– at the start of what is looking like a promising career in the film and TV business.
It’s been a little over six months since the Vernon born and raised resident found out she was going to be the star of a new TV sitcom, and it’s taken this long for her to break the news to her community.
Her family, including mom, Cathie, and dad, Todd, as well as two older sisters and a brother, felt it best to keep things under wraps until the show aired.
“I’m surprised her grandmother didn’t tell the whole world,” said proud mom Cathie.
In Really Me, a scripted live-action comedy, Imbeau plays lead character, 15-year-old Maddy Cooper, who with her best friend Julia, wins her own reality TV show and looks forward to the fame, endorsement deals and perks they assume will go along with the gig.
However, with a pushy producer, an over-enthusiastic family and no privacy, they soon discover that having their lives documented 24/7 may not be as much fun as they thought.
“The show is fast-paced, and basically we do a lot of falling and get goop thrown on us,” laughed Imbeau, adding she considers her on-set family as friends.
“Maddy is fun, upbeat and outgoing, and she doesn’t let fame with the reality show get in the way of her relationships with her friends and family. She and her best friend, Julia (played by Kiana Madeira), come up with crazy ways to make each other, and the people around them, happy.
“Sometimes they don’t go as the way they planned, but they learn from their mistakes, and grow closer in the process. That’s their normal. There just happens to be a camera following them.”
The Grade 9 Vernon Secondary School student, who just arrived back in Vernon after filming 13 episodes of the show in Toronto since January, says she’ll most likely be watching herself on TV tonight, when the sneak preview of the sitcom airs on the Family Channel.
“I’ve been back home since last Thursday, and we’ve had to drive to Vancouver two times since then,” laughed Imbeau, who has been busy doing publicity for the show, as well as auditioning for other parts.
And in life copying fiction, Imbeau’s entry into this multi-camera world was also rather dramatic.
She got the part after the producers saw a tape of her auditioning for another show.
“They had undergone an all across North America search, and didn’t find anybody they wanted. They found my audition tape for another show… I was shocked when they called me,” she said.
Attracted to Imbeau’s appearance, comedic timing, acting skill and energy, the producers sent for the Vernon teen to meet them in Toronto in what would be her first time flying outside the province.
“They told me right then and there, I got the part, and then took me out to dinner to celebrate,” said Imbeau.
Like her character, Imbeau worked long days in front of a camera, but says the experience was definitely worth it.
With help from an on-set tutor, and support from VSS’s high performance program, she also managed to keep up with her studies.
“People think it’s an easy job to do, but it’s long days, five says a week. I was number one on the call sheet, so I was on set a lot, combining it with my school work, but it was fun.”
Imbeau first became interested in acting at the age of eight.
It was her sister Allison, now 16, who suggested they both give acting a go, and Imbeau, who cites Grease as one of her favourite movies, thought it would be something fun to do.
With no formal training, except in dance, Imbeau managed to land an agent in Vancouver at the age of nine, and soon after, found herself in a commercial for a Holly Hobby snow-cone machine.
At last count, she has been featured in 27 commercials.
“The first few, I was excited when I saw myself on TV,” she said. “Now’s it’s not as big a deal, but they have all been such great opportunities.”
More recently, she had a bit part in the film Marmaduke, a guest part role as Claire in TV show Supernatural, and she recently wrapped up a leading role in the upcoming prequel Marley and Me: The Puppy Years, expected for release in June.
Now that the first episodes of Really Me are wrapped up, Imbeau’s wish is that the show be picked up for another season, and also by the Disney Channel in the U.S. like some other Family Channel shows, such as Life with Derek, have previously.
“I am hoping for as many seasons of this as possible,” she said. “I’d also like to do a horror film, and would like to get back into dance.”
With the possibility of L.A. calling for future opportunities, one thing’s for sure, Vernon will remain Imbeau’s home.
“I love being in Vernon, and know I will always come back,” she said.
Her hometown can support her by catching the sneak peek of Really Me’s first episode, A Star is Born, tonight at 9:30 p.m. on the Family Channel, following the Suite Life Movie.
The official premiere of the show, and the regular time slot, will be Saturdays at 6:30, beginning April 23.