Roots and Home are important Montreal’s Teneisha Collins
Rosie Awori - LJI Reporter
With her roots firmly planted in Montreal, Teneisha Collins is already making big strides as a screen, television, voice, and stage actress and is looking forward to greater triumphs in the film and entertainment industry.
The fast-rising star who begun acting at the age of eight, recently landed a role in the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster film, Fatherhood starring Kevin Hart in his role as a single father whose wife dies only hours after giving birth. Teneisha plays Ms. Harris a teacher at the Catholic school where Matt wants to enrol his daughter, Maddy. She says she fell in love with the script the moment she read it.
“I was in Miami at the airport and 10 pages into the script and I burst into tears, I just fell in love with all of it.”
She had two roles she was interested in, and she read for both and then it was the “waiting game” as she terms it. And soon after that she got the call back telling her she got one of the roles she read for, Ms. Harris, the school teacher.
“The callback to me was an accomplishment. On top of that I was also excited to work with director Paul Weitz who came into the room with an idea of what the character could be, but he left it to me to bring what I thought it could be.”
It’s a moment Teneisha reckons, she manifested
“At the beginning of 2019 I made a vision board with the actors that I would want to work with and Kevin Hart was one of those actors.”
Teneisha with Kevin Hart
She describes the experience as “fun” and enjoyed working with Hart who she termed as ‘very good to work with.’ The true-life story of Kevin Hart’s character was inspired by a Minnesota man and his daughter and subsequent memoir written by Matt Logelin, who lost his high school sweetheart and wife, Liz, to a pulmonary embolism just 27 hours after their daughter was born. The film follows Hart’s character Matt as he navigates the adventure that is fatherhood being a single dad to a girl. Matt is determined to beat the odds to become the best father he can be but has to conquer all the challenges that come with it, from putting the child to sleep, to braiding her hair as well as dealing with family pressures. The young Maddy has some difficulty adjusting to the strict Catholic school, which offered Ms. Harris a chance to lend a helping hand to the father and child. It’s a significant role for the young Montrealer, who so far has accumulated an impressive resume on stage, television and film. Collins credits her entry into acting to an elementary schoolteacher who “gave her students “the gift of creation” by allowing them to turn popular fairy tales into productions for their school plays and give reimagined endings.
“I was hooked from the first moment that I went on stage. I was just like I needed to do this and I did a lot of plays through school. I also asked my parents to get me an agent and they did and so I started getting booked for some roles here and there.”
She was 10 years old at the time and well on course to a career in the acting industry. She took a break in her teens and went back to school to study marketing at Concordia University. However, Collins said she missed acting so much that she joined the theatre school, Dynamic Theatre Factory and continued on her way to making inroads in the industry. Along the way, she credits the training she received in the Meisner Technique for over eight years with someone she affectionately refers to as her “acting mama,” the late Jacqueline McClintock. She also continued honing her skills and talents with other talented coaches and specialists in the field. Collins is also an alumna of Black Theatre Workshop’s prestigious artist mentorship program. And has performed in several theatrical productions in and around Montreal, playing Bess in The Last Wife (Imago Theatre,) Claire in The Breakfast Club (d2productions,) and the Interviewer in The Shadow Box (d2productions,) among others. She can also be seen on the small screen in the final season of Hulu’s Seth Rogen-produced sci-fi comedy Future Man, as well as starring
alongside Louis Ferreira and Sergio Di Zio on the Investigation Discovery/Netflix anthology series Real Detective, in the short film Red Wine. She also appears on the CBC TV series Street Legal, and in more than 25 commercials. As her talent takes her to places around the world, making movies Collins is adamant about one thing. She insists that no matter where her work takes her, Montreal remains in her home. She told the CONTACT that it’s important for her to be an example to those coming behind her that they too can do it all while living here, that’s what they want.
“Montreal is one of the top ten film markets in the world, right? And there are times when it was number one, so I want to continue to solidify my career while in this city and be known here. I work between Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, and sometimes Los Angeles but I still come home to Montreal,”she explains. And as she continues to consolidate her career and grow as an individual, she says she holds on to one core value, that is: “supporting one another.”
“You’re only as successful as the people you bring with you in any field. To me it’s a little bit unsatisfying if I didn’t share my knowledge or share best practices or help give people opportunities when I can, and that’s how we grow, especially, in the Black community.”
It’s even more significant now, she says
“Especially in my industry we are in a time, where we’re breaking all of these barriers, but it’s easy to look and see well, it’s just this select amount of people who are getting through. What about the rest of us? And I think that it’s all of our responsibility to be able to do what we can to bring other people with us to then just help us all grow and thrive. And that creates more opportunities for everybody.”
Collins roots are in Nova Scotia, where hers was one of the earliest Black families in Canada and were among the Black loyalists who facilitated the underground railroad from New York to Nova Scotia. She says she’s looking forward to using the skills she has acquired in her industry to write and tell the stories of her family and the many others across Canada to educate our community and others across the country, about the still hidden history of Blacks in Canada.
“Knowing where you come from helps you know where you are going to,” she affirms. Fatherhood premiers on June 18 on Netflix.