When Jacqui Kaese enters a room, she fills it with a charismatic confidence that commands your attention. She’s been filling rooms for quite some time too. Born in the UK to a family of artists and professional musicians, Jacqui was inspired from an early age and she knew what she wanted to do with her life.

When she turned 17, Jacqui would audition for Michael Croft’s National Youth Theatre in London UK. Her parents at first thought she was crazy, as over 4,000 would audition with less than 100 accepted. Only the acting elite would appear on the stages of The West End and after auditions in Bristol, Birmingham and London, Jacqui would find herself cast opposite Timothy Spall (now Sir Timothy) in Willis Halls ‘Stag Night’ and as an extra in a movie produced by The Who with Sting in Quadrophenia.

Jacqui didn’t have just a single goal, she wanted to explore every avenue of the business. In 1992 she would be named Showman/Manager of The Year for First Leisure Corporation, an entertainment management company also in the UK.

“The industry drives me. It totally motivates and thrills me”

Exploring the industry would turn to exploring the globe and her quest would land her in Canada. Not only would Jacqui fall in love with Canada, she fell in love with the game of hockey. That is how she would meet her husband, ex-Buffalo Sabres hockey player, Trent Kaese.

Upon Trent’s retirement from the NHL, Trent and his father would go on to build Cottonwood Golf Course on Vancouver Island. Jacqui soon realized she was right next to Hollywood North and within weeks she landed a role in a feature film. Shortly after she would join the union of BC Performers.

Jacqui’s love of the industry was strong enough to be passed down through the generations. Quickly she found herself coaching her son who has appeared in 6 feature films, 4 TV series and over 25 commercials. Jacqui was given the opportunity to open her school in 1998 and Spotlight Academy, which is celebrating its 20th year in business.

Sarah Grey

Sarah Grey

Jacqui has been an on-set coach for her students playing opposite Nicole Kidman, Jason Statham and Joel Edgerton to name a few. Others have worked with Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson.

After many years of success she has now made her move into principal casting with her partner, Gemini Award winning casting director, Lynne Carrow.

Hannah Zirke

Today she’s busy working as principal casting locally and background casting for season three of Hallmark’s Chesapeake Shores. A show whose success has led to the multi-million dollar Vancouver Island Film Studios being constructed in Parksville. A vision for the future in film on the island 20 years ago which lead to her being awarded The Excellence In Culture Award from The City of Nanaimo in 2017.

Justin Chatwin

Justin Chatwin

Some of Jacqui’s prize students have been the “Rebel with a Cause”, Justin Chatwin, who came to her at the age of 10, then landed a role in the Incredible Mrs. Richie with Gina Davis. Justin would then land a role with Tom Cruise on War of the Worlds and today he’s considered a very well respected actor in Hollywood.

Cameron Bright

Cameron Bright

Another student of note is Cameron Bright. Cameron landed a coveted role in the movie Birth with Nicole Kidman. He would go on to be part of the Twilight Saga where he played Dakota Fanning’s brother Alex. He also had roles in the movies Thank You for Smoking with Aaron Eckhart, The American Affair with Gretchen Mol, and the movie Godsend with Robert De Niro.

Colin Ford

Colin Ford

Colin Ford from the TV series Under the Dome is also a prodigy of Jacqui’s. Colin also worked with Jacqui on the movie Dungeon Siege starring Jason Statham and Claire Forlani. A few other prize students of Jacqui’s are Sarah Grey, who plays Star Girl on Legends of Tomorrow and 11 year old, Hannah Zirke, which recently landed a lead role in Sacred Lies.

Over Spotlight Academy’s 20 years and hundreds of students, Jacqui is proud to keep discovering new talent and launching careers. Former students do move on, but most stay in touch and are happy to give credit to Jacqui. Once they have built their foundation, most will move to Vancouver or Los Angeles, which is where most of the work is.

Demand in the industry on Vancouver Island now has Jacqui opening her second location for Spotlight Academy in Langford, BC, in the fall of 2018.

BAHM recently asked Jacqui some common industry questions.

What advice would you give to a young person thinking of going into acting?

“Living the dream, is like winning the lottery. The industry is so captivating it pulls you in, there is no denying your destiny if it is written. You’ve got to follow the path of least regret, so follow what your heart gives you.”

What tips would you give them?

“Research EVERYONE! Never be persuaded to do something that makes you uncomfortable. ‘Me Too’ does exist. If you are studying acting for film, coaches and acting teachers should most definitely have an IMDB profile, if not, they likely have little to no experience in film and television.

There are great teachers locally for theatre, but honestly some of the best I’ve known are high school drama teachers. Just remember that acting is acting. It all comes from the same place. It’s just the technique is different.”

What groups or organizations are important for an actor to belong to?

“You need 3 working credits as an actor to get into the union. Or 15 as a background union member. Ultimately as an actor, it should be your goal to join the union once you have enough credits. Recognize the differences between professional productions and amateur productions. Normally you are guided by your agent, so seek representation by a reputable agent. Sometimes productions do register with the IMDB but it doesn’t always mean that the Production is of professional caliber. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen foul to this myself. We all have rotten tomatoes on our resume. Again research, research, research.”

What about joining local groups?

“There are local film organizations you can join as well, such as: CineVic in Victoria and Hub City Cinema in Nanaimo. This will often allow you to access student filmmakers whom may have works going to festivals which may well win awards. However, you have to recognize that these are usually volunteer productions opposed to a full on professional productions.”

What would be my first step in order for me to get into acting?

“Learn the craft of Acting, take classes and workshops, if you can afford it pursue a full time university course, but make sure it’s a good one. Once you have some formal training, you will need headshots and a resume. Once you have that, you’ll need to find a licensed talent agent. Acting is based upon the actor who makes interesting choices. So you choose which agency you join, and you choose your coach and photographer.”

How do I go about getting an agent?

“You can apply to any agent with a headshot and resume. Often, actors will have a few extra roles and think they can automatically can get an agent, and this is not how it works. However, there is representation available for background work which requires very little acting ability. There’s good agents and there’s bad ones. Ultimately it’s up to you to find a good one. Make sure they ARE licensed. Agents do not charge for their services, they make a commission on the work you are paid for and their fees cannot amount to more than 15 percent. There should be no set up costs to join an agency. You should use multiple photographers and acting coaches, not just the one your agent insists upon using.”

What do I need to start out as a background extra?

“Find a licensed talent agency who carries a roster for BG or background performers. They should be able to submit you to work on multiple projects. If you do not have agency representation, you can join our database specifically for Chesapeake Shores by sending a headshot along with all your contact information and your personal specs for wardrobe. Include your age, height, weight, and hair and eye color. Also include your vehicle make and model and you must be available for work at all times. Email your package to ckcasting@shaw.ca.”

BAHM will keep in close contact with Jacqui in future issues. If your question is not answered here, feel free to contact Jacqui directly via her website SpotlightAcademy.com, by email to spotlight@shaw.ca, or by calling 250-714-2555.