Leanne Noelle Smith is an actress and producer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan based in Toronto, Canada. Leanne found her passion for the performing arts at the young age of five beginning as a dancer, where she toured North America and Ukraine until the age of 23. Shortly after, she moved from Saskatchewan to Toronto to pursue acting as a professional career.
To date, Leanne has starred in a number of productions including the popular award-winning series FAK YAASS (AMAZON PRIME), THE PETRICHOR, AMERICAN GRACE, NURI THE BEGINNING, and LIAM & MAY. In 2019, she was part of Counterbalance Collective, a non-profit women-led and women-focused film development and production organization, where she shot, produced and created an anthology of nine short films in nine days including PINEAPPLE, about a seemingly dull couple with a surprising secret they keep in their closets. The next film is set to release in January 2021.
The Influencers is about six social media influencers compete for an exclusive brand deal with the latest millennial juice craze: Jücytox. As cameras capture each influencer IRL, the manicured versions they present to the world online begin to not just crumble, but implode before our eyes.
Leanne plays Deandra Styles, the physically flawless and manicured host of the competition who is stylish and warm when the cameras are rolling, and dead-eyed, cold, and robotic when the producers call “cut”. Though she carries herself with an air of superiority over the young influencers, it’s clear that the biz has taken its toll on her and shaped her into the strong, no-nonsense woman she is.
We had the opportunity to chat with Leanne about her role, her favorite scenes, and what she hopes fans take away from the show.
Kat: You star in the brand new hit series The Influencers. How did you prepare for the role? Did you find any similarities between yourself and your character Deandra Styles?
Leanne: Preparing for this role was beyond fun! I definitely pulled a lot from watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. The amount of confidence and sass those Queens have gave me inspiration for Deandra when the cameras were rolling. I believe with all roles you have to find a piece of yourself that connects with the character. With Deandra I found that we bonded over the wardrobe. I love dressing up, so when Toronto Fashion Academy hooked us up with some over the top outfits to match Deandra’s personality on camera I was living my best life.
Kat: Was there anything about your role that was particularly challenging?
Leanne: This was my first role playing a host type character, so I found the chunks of lines to be a challenge at first. Unlike other shows where you’ll have dialogue between characters to play off of each other, most of my interaction was between myself and the camera. It didn’t take long to adjust, but initially riffing off full pages of text straight to camera was a challenge and a great learning experience.
Kat: What were some of your favorite scenes to shoot and why?
Leanne: Every scene had its moments, but I’d have to say that the finale was my favourite. Especially when playing with co-star Aisha Evelyna, and the moment that she came to get me off the ledge. It was funnily enough completely unplanned and unscripted, so it had a lasting impression on me.
Kat: What do you hope fans take away from the show?
Leanne: I hope that fans laugh and enjoy the comedy that is in this show. In times like these I think we all deserve to laugh a little more. That and not take themselves so seriously when it comes to social media. It’s a great tool to stay connected, but don’t let it run your life or be the source of negative emotions.
Kat: How have you been staying connected during Covid-19? How has it changed being an actress on a daily basis?
Leanne: Zoom, FaceTime, and just straight up calling people more has been a way for me to stay connected. Social media as well, but I’ve really enjoyed actually hearing friends voices and having a real time visual. Acting wise has definitely changed to more self tape auditions and zoom calls. With the way that things are currently I decided to move to a larger space to accommodate the new work from home lifestyle we’ve all had to adopt. Since the move I’ve felt more creative and at ease.
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