Monday, April 28, 2014


Nicole: "My style is girly, but edgy. Oscar de la Renta inspires me because it's classic and there's always something interesting in the detailing."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest fear in life?"

Nicole: "Not being successful."

Friday, April 25, 2014


"I love colourful patterns and prints. Singer Solange Knowles inspires me because she uses a lot of African prints and mixes and matches a lot of colourful stuff."

Lemo's street style previously appeared on TorontoVerve 2 years ago.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Anna: "I don't put much thought into what I wear."

TorontoVerve: "What's your favourite memory in life?"

Anna: "My dad reading me fairy tales when I was a little girl."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Xavier: "I'm kinda androgynous most of the time. The Olsen twins inspire me because they have that 'I just got out of bed' look. Very nonchalant."

TorontoVerve: "Which Olsen twin do you admire more?"

Xavier: "Mary-Kate. She has a way of putting things together and making it look easy, but still stylish and comfortable."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest fear in life?"

Xavier: "Being afraid to live life."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Linda: "I dress simple, chic and understated."

TorontoVerve: "What is your favourite memory in life?"

Linda: Marrying my husband."

Monday, April 21, 2014

From Peace River to House of Cards: An Interview with Canadian Actress Tanis Parenteau

When actress Tanis Parenteau first walked onto the House of Cards set, she didn’t expect to cross paths with Kevin Spacey so soon, but as fate would have it, she did. The oscar winning actor passed her to shoot his next scene with his TV wife, Robin Wright, and Parenteau got to watch every minute of it. Needless to say, it was a dream come true for the Peace River, Alberta-born actress, who currently appears in Chapter 20 of the popular political series on Netflix. She plays Tammy, a Native cocktail waitress (Parenteau is Métis and Cree), who has a chance encounter with Doug Stamper (Michael Kelley) in her tribe's casino. Recently, Parenteau Skyped with me from her New York City apartment and we discussed her life before and after her new success.

TorontoVerve: What was is like growing up in Peace River, Alberta? 

Tanis Parenteau: It’s really a small town. The population is around 6800. I grew up with my parents and my older brother. I was an athlete. I’m sure it’s like this in every town and city across Canada, but in Peace River, you play sports for the most part, and if you’re into winter sports, you’re either on the ice or you’re skiing in the mountains. My family was on the ice. My brother played hockey and I figure skated. My childhood was largely playing sports. I figure skated for 15 years, I played basketball, volleyball and I did track. I really liked growing up in a small town. My high school had around 300 people and my graduating class had around 60 people. It was a safe place growing up. One of the big past times there is jet boating on the river. We did a lot of outdoorsy things.

TV: Did you compete professionally at all? 

TP: Not professionally. I kinda just did everything in junior high and high school. I competed in figure skating until I graduated. I moved from Peace River to Edmonton to study for my undergrad at the University of Alberta, and then I just stopped all competitive sports. I was a little intimidated moving to a big city like Edmonton, where the competition was high. I didn’t have enough confidence to continue in sports so I just focussed on school.

TV: Tell us about your family. What are they like?

TP: I have a small immediate family. My parents are still together. Everybody still lives in Peace River. I was the only one to move outside the province -- never mind the country. My family is really close. I have a big extended family on both sides so I have a huge network of cousins, seconds cousins, aunties and uncles. We have family reunions every couple of years. Pretty much our whole life up there is about being with family.

TV: When you told your family you were moving to New York to train in acting, how did they react?

TP: They were ok with it. My mom wasn’t really shocked because I kept moving further and further away from Peace River since I went to U of A. I moved from Edmonton to Vancouver first and then from Vancouver to New York. I had already been living outside Alberta for 6 years so moving to New York wasn’t much of a difference for my family. They were sad that I was moving further away, but they were very supportive. They knew acting was what I wanted to do and there was no discussion. They’re great. I couldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my family.

TV: You're a New York-based actor, how do you stay motivated to find your next gig in a city where the competition is so high? 

TP: I’m really resourceful. I’m good at the business part of it. I’ve come to develop confidence in marketing myself and understanding that I need to represent myself as an agent, a manager and a publicist until I have a team of people doing that for me. I understood that a long time ago. I’m all about doing things the most optimal way. Staying persistent is my motivation.

[Tammy and Doug, both recovering alcohol addicts, bond in Chapter 20 of House of Cards]

TV: Let's talk House of Cards. Tell us what that moment was like when you first heard you got the role? 

TP: It was really surreal. There was a two-week period from the time I first auditioned to the time I got offered the part. It was an emotional roller-coaster. After I auditioned, I got a phone call from my manager who said that the casting director called and they wanted to know if I was ok with nudity: “a little bit of side bum.” So I said, yes, no problem. I trust the show, I trust Netflix and I trust the writers. It’s fine with me. Every other day, I got a phone call saying that I was on a very short list. My manager said I’m 90% sure you’re going to get it. I sat on pins and needles for two weeks. When I finally got the part, it wasn’t as exciting as I thought, but I think that’s because it didn’t really hit me right away. I guess I felt in my heart that I was going to get it.

TV: How much did you know about the show before you got the part? 

TP: Everything. When I got my audition, I started watching the show to do some research. After watching the first episode I was hooked. In those two weeks, I sorta had this dilemma -- I want to keep watching the show because it’s really good and if I do get the part, I want to continue watching it to know what happens up to my scene, but if I don’t get the part, it would be sad because I would have invested all this time, energy and emotion into watching it. Still, I couldn’t help but watch it because it’s so damn good. Interestingly, when they give you your audition script, they block out all the names so you don’t know who your scene is with because they’re so hush hush, but I eventually figured out that I would be working with Michael Kelley who plays Doug Stamper on the show.

TV: Your appearance on the show is brief but poignant. Your character Tammy brings out an uncharacteristic sentimental side to the usually brooding Doug Stamper and she makes him aware that his obsession for Rachel (played by Rachel Brosnahan) isn't quite as hidden as he thought. How does it feel playing a significant part in one of the major character's development? 

TP: I didn’t realize that right away. I wish I had more [scenes]. She was so integral to his development, but it feels great to be that person who brings out that side of Doug because we didn’t see much from him in the first season.

TV: Which one of the cast members did you learn from the most and what did they tell you? 

TP: I worked with Michael and I did get to work with Gil Birmingham (TwilightThe Lone Ranger), but our scenes were cut. The whole crew was awesome too. It couldn’t have been a better experience. But I would have to say Michael because we worked so much together and he was just amazing. Our first scene together was a seduction scene where I take him back to my apartment. We ended up making out all day and he made me feel super comfortable. He kinda took me under his wing. James Foley was our director and I was a little intimidated at first because he directed Glengarry Glen Ross -- one of the best movies of all time, but he was awesome -- especially approaching the morning after scene. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure if the level of nudity that I was prepared to do was enough for him, but he was like “whatever you’re comfortable with is fine,” and everything worked out smoothly. He was really passionate about every take that we had. Michael was great. He told me that [House of Cards] was one of the best jobs that he ever had. I also got to watch Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright shoot a scene where Francis is painting one of his toy soldiers. It was wonderful seeing two masters do their thing.

TV: How has your role in House of Cards changed your life so far? 

TP: It definitely opened some doors here in New York as far as auditions go and meeting casting directors I haven’t met before. I recently interviewed for a casting director who is very passionate about the show. As you mentioned, my character was integral to Doug’s development and that’s how he felt. I guess he wanted to make sure that Tammy was getting her moment. I’ve had a lot of champions for my character on the show and it’s helped me get a little bit of exposure. Also, I finally signed with an agent -- it’s really hard to sign with an agent in New York. For the last 3 years, I’ve been freelancing with some management companies, but getting an agent is really tough until you get something substantial under your belt. At the same time, it’s hard to get something substantial if you don’t have an agent getting you auditions. A large part of me getting the House of Cards audition is that Tammy was written as a native character so they were only looking for native actresses, and since the pool is smaller, it was better for me as a native actress.

TV: This season both House of CardsBanshee featured prominent story lines with Native Americans. In fact one of your favourite actors, Gil Birmingham, appeared on both shows. Do you feel that there are more opportunities for Native American actors in Hollywood today?  

TP: I definitely do -- especially in TV lately. Maybe not so much with Hollywood studio films. Obviously, since Johnny Depp played Tonto in Walt Disney’s The Lone Ranger and now Rooney Mara is playing Tiger Lily in Warner Bros’ new adaptation of Peter Pan. But, in the industry overall, there’s definitely more opportunity. And there are more Native people writing their own stories and making their own films, which offers us more significant roles.

TV: You mentioned that the pool for Native actors is small. How do you feel when Native roles go to non-native actors like Rooney Mara in Pan

TP: I definitely feel it should go to a Native actress. It’s tough because that role is very stereotypical. In the original Peter Pan, I kinda look at Tiger Lily and wonder who would want to play that stereotypical character anyways? But, none of us have seen the new script so I don’t know how that character is going to be portrayed in the film. So there is an opportunity to not have such a stereotypical character. Yeah, I think the role should have gone to a Native actress and there are so many talented Native actresses.

TV: Is it harder for you to get roles that are not written specific for Native Americans? 

TP: I don’t know if I would say it’s harder. I think they’re both an equal struggle for me. Depending on who’s judging, some people may think I don’t look Native or don’t look Native enough so I might miss out on Native roles. Others may not be able to place what I am. I’m not Caucasian. I’m ethnically ambiguous. Some people ask me: do I want to be typecast as a Native actress? For me, I don’t think that’s possible, but I really don’t mind because there are so much more opportunities for Native actresses -- especially now when we’re telling our own stories.

TV: In addition to acting, you have a passion for strength training, nutrition and health. What is your daily routine to keep in shape? 

TP: It changes. I prefer not following those fitness gurus like Jillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson who are always trying to sell you something on TV. Instead, I follow a handful of well-known strength and conditioning coaches who have PHDs on the subject and have published the scientific aspects of it. I also have a bachelors in Physical Education so I’ll occasionally develop my own programs. In the gym, I mostly do multi-joint barbell movements like squats, dead-lifts, bench-press, chin-ups and over-head press. My goal isn’t aesthetics so much as it is getting stronger. I’m always trying to achieve a new personal record. There’s always a goal and that’s what I think most people miss out on. Most people’s training is so random and they don’t keep track of what they’re doing so they get easily demotivated. I always track what I do and I know when I’m making progress. Being strong is awesome. I get to open my own jars and lift my own furniture. It’s really empowering.

TV: With all the muscle you're putting on, are you possibly reinventing yourself to be an action star like Gina Carano from Haywire

TP: Yeah, I’ve done a few action films in the past, but they haven’t been released. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough money to finish them so they’re probably sitting somewhere in someone’s computer. Because I’ve always been athletic and I love staged combat, I’d definitely jump on an action film in a heartbeat.

TV: Next month, you're playing the lead in the off broadway play, Manahatta, at The Public Theatre. Tell us about your role and the play. 

TP: The play is written by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle and it tells two stories in one. I play Jane, the protagonist, who moves from Oklahoma to New York to work with an investment firm on Wallstreet. Her struggles leaving her family parallels another story that takes place in the 1600s when the Lenape lost their land to settlers. Each actor gets to play a character in both past and present. The play is about knowing where you're from and remembering your roots. It also highlights a sad moment in history when the island of Manhattan was deceptively sold. The Indians didn’t know they were really selling their home.

TV: What's it like for you to perform on stage in front of a live audience? 

TP: It’s thrilling. Sometimes it’s scary. It’s great because it heightens the work so much. The stakes are higher when you’re performing live. It really keeps you on your toes because sometimes there are people in the audience that you know, but you have to block it all out and focus on the story and your character.

TV: You're living your dream now -- what words of advise can you offer our readers who are considering a career in acting?  

TP: Training. An actor should always be training. It’s a skill like in sports. You have to keep it up or you can get rusty. If you’re just getting started, sign up for some classes. I would recommend immersive and intensive programs to gain a wide variety of skills and methods. Join a theatre troop or take drama classes in school. Just training, training, training.

* * *

Follow Tanis on Twitter.

Manahatta will be at The Public Theatre in New York City from May 15th to May 25th.

Street style photos courtesy of Kimberly Mufferi -- follow her on Twitter.

House of Cards photos courtesy of Netflix.

Fitness photo courtesy of Anthony Thosh Collins.

Fashion photo courtesy of Baker T. Bilsen.

If you haven't already started watching House of Cards on Netflix, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Jaime: "My style is carefree. I get ideas from other people, but my fashion is mostly my own."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest fear in life?"

Jaime: "To not be successful."

And success is not eluding Jaime aka JAI JONES. He's a busy rap artist whose influences are old school artists: DMX and Three 6 Mafia. You can check out his beats on his YouTube Channel here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quinn & Laura

Quinn: "I am very tweedy. I basically am always trying to keep up with her. I feel if I can make myself look halfway presentable then I'm good enough to walk around with her. She's the most stylish person I know."

Laura: "My style is an eclectic vintage collection."

TorontoVerve: "What's your favourite memory in life?"

Quinn: "Favourite memory in life? That's heavy. Wow. Okay, I'm laying it on thick today, but it's when I first started dating her."

Laura: "Oh my God (laugh). I have to go with the same answer."

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Andrew: "I can't say anyone inspires my style. I've seen styles come and go at least 3 or 4 times. I'm an avid fan of McQueen, Gaultier, Dior and YSL -- when it was YSL. Not sure about that now."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest fear in life?"

Andrew: "Not being happy. Even when the shittiest things in life are going bad, if I'm not happy then I'm not happy, but if I'm feeling good knowing that tomorrow is going to be okay…well, it's a Buddhist kinda thing."

Interestingly, we shot Andrew's street style before on Spadina Avenue nearly 3 years to this day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Victoria: "I'm not quite certain what my style is. It's not a distinctive look. It's whatever I throw on each day. However I feel. My parents influence my fashion. The old Saigon era. It's kinda French Vietnamese."

TorontoVerve: "What's your favourite memory in life?"

Victoria: "Meeting my partner. It was love at first sight."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Ty: "My style is edgy and bohemian."

TorontoVerve: "What's your favourite memory in life?"

Ty: "South Africa. I once modelled in South Africa. It was life-changing for me."

TorontoVerve: "How was it life-changing for you?"

Ty: "Seeing people who are worse off than me. It gave me a different perspective on life -- made me more appreciative of what I have."

Monday, April 14, 2014


Jeremiah: "My style is eclectic -- a mix of vintage and bright colours. I'm looking forward to summer."

TorontoVerve: "Who's your biggest fashion inspiration?"

Jeremiah: "Me. Always. That's it."

TorontoVerve: "And what's your biggest fear in life?"

Jeremiah: "To be boring."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Paolo: "My style is laid-back. Whatever I like that's what I wear. There's no pattern. I just do what I like. My parents inspire me. They're hippies, man."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest fear in life?"

Paolo: (pause) "Nothing."

TorontoVerve: "Nothing?"

Paolo: "Maybe my love ones passing, but that's about it."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

St Stella

St Stella: "My style is vintage with a twist of hippie. Vintage Marilyn Monroe inspires as does Janis Joplin's flower-power style."

TorontoVerve: "What's your greatest fear in life?"

St Stela: "Being boring."

TorontoVerve: "Being boring?"

St Stela: "I don't want to come and go from this world without having had an effect on people."