About Samora Smallwood
Samora Smallwood is an award winning, classically trained actor, writer, & cool feminist of West African & Caucasian descent. Samora is fluent in French, proficient in Spanish & a lover of action who is trained in stage combat, fighting for TV & Film, and archery. She is Co-Chair of ACTRA’s Diversity Committee, an ACTRA Toronto Councilor, as well as the founder of The Actors Work Studio, an innovative acting studio in Toronto.
Samora’s recent television work includes Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek Short Treks, The Expanse, American Gods, Coroner, The Shelter, Shadowhunters, Good Witch, and an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries involving a story close to her heart about white passing & black identity in Canada. Recent projects include Daughter Dearest, Counting on Christmas, Toni & Solo and the feature film Queen of the Morning Calm which premiered at the Whistler Film Festival & is directed by 2020 Canadian Screen Award nominated Director Gloria Kim. Samora just finished shooting the lead role in Death She Wrote and is set to start filming another lead role in a Romantic Comedy.
Samora won The Theatre Windsor Award for “Best Actress” for her portrayal of May Henning in Norm Foster’s The Affections of May and is nominated for a 2020 ACTRA award for Best Series Ensemble for her work in Tokens. Samora’s passion is telling fresh stories and promoting diversity on-screen and behind the camera. She was recently a jury member for The Female Eye Film Festival as well as a selected participant in The Reelworld Film Festival’s “Emerging 20” Talent to Watch Program. Samora is also a passionate public speaker whose recent work includes hosting panels at TIFF, The Toronto Black Film Festival, and Official International Women’s Day.
Photos courtesy of Robert O Photography
What inspired you to pursue acting?
As a child I had a knack for doing voices and kept everyone entertained with impressions. When my grandfather invested in a Canon camera it was game on! I would create mini-theatre shows and write, direct, and cast (my siblings) in shows and short movies. When I look back at those videos two things are clear: my grandfather really loved me & I am a natural born storyteller. We didn’t have much money growing up, as my mom was a single mother, so I didn’t attend theatre or film camp, but I did devour books and would engross myself in the characters’ lives in my own everyday life. Reading Harriet the Spy meant I kept a log of the neighbours comings and goings, and lay traps around the house (which mom loved by the way), Roald Dahl’s The Witches, had me checking everyone’s feet and looking for hidden witches in all mom’s friends, and the Babysitters Club inspired me to start Kid Kare Kompany (a name, I know) and get certified in CPR to become the neighbourhood babysitter. At the time it seemed like play, but when I look back I clearly see me becoming characters even then.
As a teen I became obsessed with classic films like A Place in the Sun, Bus Stop, A Woman Under the Influence, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire and In the Heat of the Night. I knew watching these iconic performances that I wanted to professionally pursue acting. I convinced my family to let me apply for theatre school and the rest is (my) history being written.
What is your dream role?
This is a really difficult question! Lately I have been manifesting roles with emotional resonance that have an impact on the community. I love to usurp stereotypes in my performances and as a bi-racial woman it’s very important for me to tell a bigger story. Whenever I read that a character is strong, for example, I always look for how that strength might be warm. If a female character is described as ambitious, I know in real life, women are often punished for their ambition, so I try to root it in love and passion for her work and keep the energy feminine & warm versus trying to be overly masculine to fit in (which women have to do so often in real life).
My dream role is definitely one that allows me to insert as much humanity into the character as possible. That said, dream-dream roles would include action as I am (and have been told by directors) a physical actor, & I am athletic & certified for fighting in tv & film. I have a talent with voices & accents so I would love to do a Biopic in my career (I won’t say who, I don’t want to jinx it!) and most of all, I want to play roles that makes anyone who feels invisible, feel seen & gives a voice to underrepresented voices, communities, and experiences.
Updated April 2021