Day 02 - Colm

Day 02 - Colm (5th person I approached)
January 02, 2014 - The first person I approached was a sweet little lady walking along the street. I was in front of her and I stopped to tell her about my project. She listened intently, then sweetly and softly said, ‘No thank you, dear.’ 


I laughed to myself after the second person I approached declined my invitation as well. He was a big, burly guy, who gruffly said ‘NO’ as soon as I spoke, dismissing me without even breaking his gait. It’s a good thing I’m not considering omens this early into the new year, I thought. The third person was too busy to talk, and the fourth was a professor and writer, working to a deadline. You’ve got to respect that! I had walked into a busy coffee shop to scan the room for people sitting on their own.


I spotted Colm, explained my project to him and asked if he would chat with me. He agreed, and was fine knowing that his story would be posted on social media, along with his picture, which I asked if I could take. There's a reason I’m explaining the process here, once again. It's for the sake of the hundreds of new people (seriously!), that have started following The Stranger Project in the last week or so. Thank you and welcome!


Colm was born in Vancouver, the middle child of three boys.

“As the middle child, I made sure I wasn’t invisible,” he said, alluding to the often heard of, middle-child syndrome.

“I was aware that there were different expectations placed upon each of us, as our parents became more used to having children. My oldest brother had it tougher with more expectations. My younger brother had it easier, which isn’t to say his life was a breeze, but it was easier by way of being the third child. As the middle child, I wanted to treated equally. I also sometimes felt like a mediator between my older and younger brothers,” he told me. 


“I was a loud and boisterous child. Another way to ensure I wasn’t invisible. My parents recognized this and signed me up for summer camps, where I could fully utilize that energy. I remember when I was six years old, we put on a stage show at camp, a murder mystery. I played I think, three characters. Mr Vanderfielden, Mrs Vanderfielden and the murderer. Just the kind of stuff six year olds stage,” he said sheepishly. This started Colm’s interest in theatre and acting.


Colm applied for and got accepted to an Arts-based mini-school program in high-school. I asked him what he prepared for his audition.

“Oh, you don’t prepare anything. You go in and they put you in a group with a three other students. They give you an imaginary prop or a situation, and you have ten minutes to come up with a scene between you,” he said. I wondered if there was any feeling that one of the other three applicants could effect his chances.

“You’d think so, but no. They’re looking to see how you handle things, how you do with little information. They want to see how you manage failure as well,” he said. We both agreed it was a good skill to be learned for life, in general.

“The teachers tend to really listen to and value the students opinion as well. I was involved in the audition process for other students, later on in the program. The teachers wanted to know if we thought someone was presenting a unique talent, or how we felt they were contributing. It was very collaborative, and as students, we each had a voice,” said Colm. (*Fact Check - see link below.)


After graduating from high-school Colm focussed on acting and writing.

"I’ve been going out on auditions. I also wrote a feature film screenplay which I’m working on right now,” he says, enthusiastically. Colm and his best friend are working on producing a short film version of the full-length feature.

“We reworked it into a short film. We can produce a short version much easier. Then we'll take it to film festivals to generate interest and hopefully get backing to make the feature length film. We just shot it. I co-wrote, co-directed and acted in it as well. My best friend is who I co-wrote it with. Now we’re editing it together,” he tells me. 


Colm’s best friend is also his room mate.

“I have two room mates. My best friend and another guy who is also a really good friend that I’ve known since high-school. I’ll be moving to my own place in a few months though. The other guys are moving in with their girlfriends so, I’m on my own,” he says, with no trace of sadness.

“It’s exciting to think about getting my own place. I’ll probably stay at my parents for a month while I get it all sorted out,” he said.

"Plus, living with your best friend can kind of change the dynamic of things. I don’t want it to become a mundane friendship. I’d rather have a best friend than a good room mate,” he says, wise beyond his twenty-two years.


Last October, Colm’s (acting) agent dropped him, choosing to not represent him any more, after eight years.

“It was tough to accept,” he said.

“I’m perfectly okay when a casting agent rejects me or says no, because then I’m just not right for the part. But all I felt was, if my agent drops me, then I’m not even worth sending out (on auditions). I had to work through that,” Colm said.

“I realized that I was doing everything well on my on, when acting. I just wasn’t bringing it to the auditions. I still have the utmost respect for my agent. She really knows what she’s doing and I admire her work,” he said.

“Perhaps in some way, dropping me has made me work harder.” #notastranger

*Fact Check - example of an Arts-based school -