From soundstage to study hall
Before he thought about becoming an actor, second-year Ryerson student Jadiel Dowlin, external link was fascinated by the larger-than-life characters he saw in superhero movies.
“One of the actors I really looked up to from a young age was Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight. DC and Marvel Comics, all those movies, and especially Christian Bale as Batman—that’s the moment when I started to realize, ‘I really like moviemaking when it’s done right. I want to play cool characters like that, and interact with other great actors.’”
Why acting? “It allows us to feel emotions we don’t often talk about in our daily lives,” says Dowlin. “Someone said about acting: ‘It’s the one field where you can be praised for being imperfect.’ In your day-to-day life, if you break down crying, people are like, ‘What’s wrong with that dude?’ But if you’re on the big screen, people are like, ‘I feel you, man. I was going through this at this point in my life, I can relate to that character.’”
On the eve of his 19th birthday, Jadiel Dowlin is already well-known to pint-sized viewers. As a child actor, he landed a major role on the Amazon series Annedroids (which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination), and is part of the ensemble of Nickelodeon’s teen comedy Star Falls (seen in Canada on YTV). He has also begun to make himself known as a writer, scripting episodes of the Amazon family series Dino Dana. The Hollywood Reporter, external link recently cited him as one of 15 up-and-coming Canadian performers “making an impact in Hollywood.”
Even with his career rising, he hasn’t lost sight of school: he’s currently pursuing a double-major in philosophy and film studies, and came to Ryerson with a President’s Entrance Scholarship (one of many scholarships and awards available to help ease the financial burden for students with exceptional potential).
“I’m from a very academic family: my mom works at City Hall and my dad is an accountant, so numbers and politics and discussion have always been a part of my life,” says Dowlin.
“When my parents realized acting was what I wanted to do, they said, ‘You have to still study and pursue and education.’ And I was happy to do that, because before being an actor, I was also interested in law. I still eventually want to pursue a law degree, and maybe do something in entertainment law, or create a law show like Suits. Academics can still really facilitate your acting career in different ways.”
Balancing school with a career hasn’t always been easy—especially when the shoot of Star Falls overlapped with the school year—but Dowlin has taken it in stride. “I started acting in roughly Grade 7 or 8, so it’s been years now that I’ve been learning how to balance my work life and my school life,” he says.
“It really helps to have a lot of supportive teachers and professors, especially at Ryerson. But you also pick up a few tricks along the way to balance. For example, a lot of my friends would just work on homework in general, whereas with me, because I have to manage my time more carefully, I just work on anything that needs to be due. So, I’m focusing on: ‘If these are due Thursday, Friday, and Monday, I’m going to work on them,’ instead of just working on everything in general.”
Looking ahead, Dowlin is eager to expand his writing while also accumulating acting experience.
“It’s really like any profession. When you’re starting out, you really do have to prove yourself, and show directors and producers why they should choose you for these roles. And there’s still a lot of work to be done—I still audition for things—but when you have all this work behind you, they go through all your projects: ‘Okay, this kid knows what he’s doing—let’s give him a shot. Like any profession, the more experience you have, the better the chance they’ll choose you for the part.”