On a sunny patio in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood, actor Tinsel Korey is taking a rare breather.
She's just wrapped a role in the Twilight sequel New Moon, the most intensely watched production ever to hit Vancouver, and her new ensemble comic drama Mothers&Daughters hits Canadian theatres Friday.
"I know this is the pinnacle of where things are about to change for me," says Korey, who hasn't worked a day job since a brief stint as a waitress when she came to Vancouver from Toronto as a teen in 2002. "It was happening gradually but I just have an internal feeling that it's about to get a little crazy."
In New Moon, Korey adds sweetness and light as Emily, part of the story's community of natives who befriend lovelorn teen Bella (Kristen Stewart) when her vampire beau (the freshly minted superstar Robert Pattinson) leaves town. Some of those natives have another side as werewolves, and human Emily bears the scars from where her werewolf boyfriend once got too close.
The fan frenzy around all things Twilight has Korey lying low.
"I wasn't even allowed to say I was in it for months," she says. As well, Korey has stayed away from the Internet fan chatter.
"My agent is like, 'You're banned from the Internet, you're not allowed to Google yourself, because people can be really mean.'"
In the ultra low-budget Mothers&Daughters, a sleeper hit on the festival circuit, Korey teamed up with director Carl Bessai and a group of Vancouver actors that included Tantoo Cardinal, Babz Chula, Gabrielle Rose and Camille Sullivan for three interconnected stories. Cast and director spent several months workshopping an outline that they fleshed out with improv work during filming just over a year ago.
Korey played a young professional woman cut off from her native heritage, who hires a painting contractor (Cardinal). While the movie's other two stories are about literal mothers and daughters, theirs is more ambiguous.
"These two characters had lost something in their lives and they found it in each other by the end, which is something that I can relate to," says Korey, who was adopted as an infant and grew up in a Jewish neighbourhood in Toronto.
"Tantoo and I would sit in the room, she'd tell her story, I'd tell a bit of mine. Every time we'd get a little bit more and Carl would write it down, document, film it. By the end of it, we had these solid characters who were half intertwined with our own lives."
Korey had done commercials in Toronto and came to B.C. looking for more rewarding work.
Bessai gave her a small role as a rape victim opposite Callum Keith Rennie in the 2006 drama Unnatural and Accidental, based on the string of alcohol-related Downtown Eastside murders of mostly native women.
"It was one of her first gigs and it was harrowing," the director recalls. "She was terrified and Callum is so method, so intense. It was one of those moments where you watch a young actor and you think, 'This will either really give them the power to act or it will just alienate them.'"
Korey has also remained friends with co-star Cardinal (whose Dances With Wolves co-star Graham Greene coincidentally has a role in New Moon).
"Tantoo is an icon," says Korey. "When she talks to me normally, I'm still (whispers) 'Tantoo Cardinal is talking to me, she's my buddy.' Tantoo said something interesting, that as native people we're adopting each other throughout our lives."
On this day in Strathcona, she's rejoined director Bessai for a day and a half's work on a cameo role in Fathers&Sons, a companion piece to the earlier movie. Korey is in an army-green tank top, jeans and camouflage jacket for a story featuring Gordon Tootoosis and Lorne Cardinal as a politically at-odds father and son.
"I'm playing a rebel in this, one of Lorne Cardinal's cronies -- his character would have a fist in the air," Korey says. "The character is not me, not the way I would deal with things, but it's great to do improv."
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(photo from mothers and daughters)