Actor, Helena Marie, plays Whitney Cortez in the Family Channel and CBCC’s new television series, My Perfect Landing. The show features talented young gymnasts, and Helena’s character moves to Toronto with her family to start a gymnastic club. Read about it more below!
Hi Helena, thank you for answering our questions today! Tell us about yourself and how you got into acting. Where did you start and what pushed you to pursue a career in entertainment? What was your big break?
It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me! I started acting during my last year of high school, and then studied theatre in college. When I first started to pursue it professionally I basically just did everything I could. I took all the classes I could afford, I acted in student films, short films and indie projects, I narrated audiobooks– you name it, I did it. The more I did, the more I knew that this was the path for me. I needed to perform. Working on Stagecoach: The Texas Jack story was a huge milestone for me. I got to play a kick-ass character alongside some truly heavy hitters like Judd Nelson and Kim Coates.
What is My Perfect Landing about? Tell us about your character, Whitney Cortez. What do you most admire about Whitney? How are you similar to her?
My Perfect Landing is about a family of gymnasts who move from Miami to Toronto to start up a gymnastics studio. Whitney is a widow with two kids. She’s a former gymnast who got hurt before she was able to compete at the Olympics, so she tends to limit the kind of gymnastics she lets her daughter, Jenny, do, in order to keep her safe. What I most admire about Whitney is that she is someone I think a lot of people can relate to: a parent in a tough situation, doing her best. We don’t always deal with the traumas of our past, but ultimately we’re all trying to do the best we can. Whitney is similar to me in that I, too, don’t always get things right but the important thing is that I keep trying. And I think that’s really all we can ask from ourselves.
Did you know anything about gymnastics before joining the show? What did you do to prepare for it and what was it like to see these young gymnasts in action?
I was a total gymnastics newbie when I was hired for the show! The producers sent me to a studio where Morgan, who plays my daughter Jenny, was training for a competition. It was such a great opportunity to learn what it is gymnasts do day in and day out, and I immediately had so much respect for the sport, and the gymnasts themselves. Their dedication is truly admirable.
How is it working with the young cast members of My Perfect Landing and seeing how hard they have to work as both actors and athletes on the show? Any memorable moments while filming on set?
I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty basic compared to what it was they did every day on set. They’d be up there swinging around on the uneven bars, then jump down and nail their landing. Then go on with their dialogue like they hadn’t just spun around 10 times on the bars, not the least bit distracted or short of breath. They are so vivacious, and for me it’s great to be around them and be reminded what it’s like to be a kid again. There were so many memorable moments working on the show, but one that really stands out is from one day when I came to set a little early. I got to see Ajanae, who plays Keisha, doing a dance routine. My jaw dropped to the floor, I was in total awe. She’s amazing and you’ll love what she does in the show.
You are also in the movie, His Fatal Fixation, on Lifetime! What is the movie about and what can you tell us about your character, Claire Marlowe?
I love these suspense thrillers, they’re so much fun to do! I play the wife of a plastic surgeon who is having an affair with one of his clients. Her past is a little unclear to us, and as their affair unfolds, people around us start getting hurt in mysterious ways. My character, Claire, is very suspicious of this young woman and doesn’t trust her as far as she could throw her. Once she voices her suspicions, bad things happen to her as well.
Since you are also a creator, writer and producer– what would be your dream project (or projects!) in the future?
Oh gosh, there are so many! I know many creative people, some of whom I’m collaborating with now, and others I hope to work with in the future. I’m always interested in projects that make people see things in new ways. Art has the power to make people feel, to laugh, to cry, and hopefully see things from a new point of view. I really want to tell stories that help people put themselves in someone else’s shoes, and feel empathy for them in a way they didn’t before.
What do you like to do outside of acting?
There’s a life outside of acting? Ha ha ha. In my personal life I really enjoy doing activities like hot yoga, hiking, and swimming. Ultimately, I think my absolute favorite thing in life is spending time with my friends. A lot of my friends live far away, so most of my long-term friendships are kept up through the aid of social media and things like face chatting. I also love having great food experiences. I really enjoy trying a delicious new dish or restaurant – especially if friends can come along!
Lastly, if you could pick and have one super power, which would it be and would you use it for good or evil?
Well, speaking of food, I would like to be able to snap my fingers and instantly create any type of food in front of me. I would definitely use this for good. Feed the hungry, feed the world! On a smaller scale, I think it would make things easier to be able to snap my fingers and have the most delicious salad sitting in front of me, as easily accessible as a bag of chips. I think having fresh food more easily available to us would make it easier to make healthier eating decisions for our bodies and our minds.
Follow Helena on Instagram.
Photos by Kristina Ruddick.