Many young girls dream of becoming famous actresses when they grow up, but this one is making it a reality.
Emily James, 19, has set her sights on Hollywood as she continues to flourish in her young acting career, which she launched at just 13.
“I actually started off as a dancer. I love to perform and dancing was a big thing for me growing up as a kid,” she says, adding around 12 or 13 she started doing musical theatre.
“Just getting the chance to perform and put on this character and have so much fun, I started to really fall in love with the acting side of it.”
That’s why at 13 years old she quit dance and started taking acting classes within a couple of weeks. By 14, she got into film and television. At 15, she started travelling between Calgary and Los Angeles to take acting workshops and classes.
A lot of family flights
James and her family have been travelling back and forth every three months since she was 15 so the young actress could attend acting workshops with Zach Burnett Studios for 10 days at a time.
“And I’m still doing it to this day,” James says.
“I knew when I was 13 years old that this was going to be the career for me. Once you experience the life of acting it’s tough to imagine doing anything else.”
But soon, Los Angeles will be her permanent residence so she can be closer to future opportunities.
“I have always had a deep love for Calgary, but I’ve also had a deep love for LA ever since I took my first flight there. When I was 13, I knew that that was the place I needed to be,” James says, adding her family will join her in LA part-time.
“I made sure and promised myself that I would work hard to get there one day.”
Calling LA home
She’s excited to make it her home base so that she can go to in-person classes again and get to see friends and connect with teachers, coaches, and mentors she met along the way.
After working under the guidance of Calgary acting coach Sharon M. Stone, James was cast in Han Siu’s short film Mia, and won a best actor award after it showed at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Over the years, James has continued to perform and hone her craft through various roles, drawing on inspiration from British actress Florence Pugh, who she says has a “unique” acting style.
“I also just admire her as a strong female in the film industry. A lot of the stuff she works in is more of a dramatic thriller type of genre, and that’s something that I love to work on,” she says.
“I look up to her for that. I hope to work in the same genre as she does because it’s something I really love working on.”
A young career filled with success already
James also starred in the FX mini-series Under the Banner of Heaven, which was one of 2022’s most popular television shows and was nominated for two Golden Globe awards. That series was filmed in Calgary and southern Alberta.
“I’m still very grateful for the opportunity I had to get to work with that cast and crew. It was my first time on an actual set, so I got to see how everything works behind the scenes and getting to meet everyone,” James says, adding she is still friends with people from the show.
Despite being born and raised in Calgary, James got to explore parts of the city she hadn’t seen before.
“It was also amazing shooting outside of the city and seeing different houses and different locations that I had never seen before.”
James doesn’t have a date set in stone yet but anticipates she will be calling LA home this summer or fall.