(Photo by Dane Clark)
Actor Tennille Read has talent to burn, impressive technical acumen and boundless soulful emotionality but her defining quality—the aspect which truly distinguishes her—is a unique ecumenical appeal, one that attains an almost universal-scale reach. The Toronto born and based Read brings this subtly alluring charisma to every role and it’s enabled her to build a star-spangled resume of theater, film and television credits.
This singular quality is an attribute rooted in her mixed heritage.
“My ethnicity is a mix which I've always been proud of,” Read said. “It keeps people guessing about where I'm actually from and I like having that kind of mystery! My dad was born in Canada and is very fair colored with an Irish, Scottish and English background. My mum is from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and her great-grandparents were from India and Venezuela. I usually call myself Indo-Trinidadian-
Canadian and think it's special to have so many cultures influence your upbringing. ”
This rich mixture imparts a consistently elegant intrigue that works to her advantage at auditions, even if it brought some adversity early in life.
“When I was a kid I didn't put much meaning on the fact that I was different or darker skinned than any of my classmates,” Read said. “It was such an innocent and color-blind time for me. I grew up in a small town north of Toronto where my parents were the only visibly mixed couple and it wasn't until I was nine when another kid during recess made a rude remark referencing my tanned skin. That was a pivotal moment when my self- awareness switched on. I began to realize that not everyone felt comfortable about being around different cultures. But I didn't feel like there was anything wrong with being different. I have my parents to credit for that.”
Read refused to be intimidated.
“It's a deeper kind of unpleasant nuance that begins to occur when, even in the media, you don't see anyone who looks like you,” she said. “It was this mysterious void when I was growing up. To me, it just seemed that TV forgot to put us in their shows, or worse, that brown people couldn't be actors, or weren't good enough. That was something that I definitely struggled with when I first started out as an actor, but ultimately there has always been a drive in me that overruled those thoughts. That drive was to keep showing up and go after the acting career I wanted.”
The versatile, self-possessed Read steadily became an accomplished force—she consistently works on stage, in film (her performance in 2018 drama “I Lost My Mind” earned her the Hollywood North Film Awards Best Actor honor), the occasional television commercial and recently shot a 9 episode character arc on Canadian TV comedy series ‘Workin’ Moms.’ and a pivotal role on the Audience network spy thriller ‘Condor,’ a series that boasts an outstanding ensemble troupe anchored by stars William Hurt, Max Irons and Mira Sorvino.
“Shooting ‘Condor’ was a lot of fun,” Read said. “There were other Toronto- based actors who were on set with me, and we had some good laughs in our down time. Everyone seemed positive and genuinely excited about being there. I also loved meeting and working with Max Irons and William Hurt. They're gems. Bill [Hurt] and I had a delightful conversation about Trinidad where my Mum is from.“
Read’s ambition and dramatic skills are also a potent combination and she thoroughly inhabited her challenging role in the series.
“My character's name was Ellie,” Read said. “She's a member of the Special Intelligence bullpen headed by William Hurt but she's also a trained SEAL under disguise as a receptionist. She spends her days fending off awkward compliments from Harold, who is convinced he'll one day win her heart, and she befriends Max Iron's character. As the story unfolds, there is a huge attack on everyone in the bullpen and it’s an inside job. My character was crucial to the set up and reveal of who that insider is.”
Never one to squander an opportunity, Read took full advantage of her ‘Condor’ castmate’s illustrious company.
“Being on set was like auditing a master class in acting,” Read said. “On one day, my schedule had a break between scenes because they were shooting a different scene with Mira Sorvino and William Hurt. Rather than being stuck in my trailer, I got to watch them in the studio
tackle the scene over and over again, bringing fresh nuances to each take. How often do you get to watch two Oscar Award Winners create something new like that? It was glorious.”
With an impressive roster of successful characterizations that span the full dramatic spectrum and a professional reputation as a highly valuable on- set asset, Read is quickly reaching the highest strata of the artistic altitude, and she relishes every second of it.
“A good story is something that connects with everyone, no matter what their background might be,” Read said. “’Condor’ was like a dream come true, to drive to the studio every day and work with such a high caliber crew and cast of actors. I remember having a very satisfying moment when as ‘Ellie’ I was putting another character in his place—she constantly has to maneuver around her co-worker’s romantic advances—there was a kind of palpable humor to it that just gushed out while I was doing the scenes. I remember getting chills, which happens to me when I'm really immersed in the character and my imagination—it’s the pure essence of storytelling.”