People of USask: Alana Pancyr

Alana Pancyr (BFA’13) is an artist and actress living in Toronto. As a multimedia artist, she has created digital works and pieces using the mediums acrylic and oil paint. Since her time as a student at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Pancyr has acted in many on-stage and on-screen productions, such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Murdoch Mysteries.

Q. Why did you decide to pursue a Fine Arts degree at USask?

I was always drawn to the arts. Even when I was really little, I always had a passion for painting and acting. So, I knew strongly that I was going to continue on that path as I grew up. I decided to attend USask because I wanted to stay close to home where my passion first began.  

Q. What did you do as a drama major throughout your studies? 

We did so much. It was a really great program because we worked intensely on our physical awareness and script analysis. In general, it was a really expansive program. It was a great foundation because it touched on all the elements of becoming a performer and valuing a lot of the work that you (actors) were likely to address in life.  

Q. Was there anyone who had an influence on you during your time at USask?

A lot of my professors really guided my career, such as Julia Jamison and Natasha Martina. They have always kept in touch and encouraged me to continue outside of the program and pursue my dreams. 

Q. Do you have any favourite memories of your time at USask?

I have so many. I loved doing the stage performances at the Greystone Theatre. Also getting to do my classes all day and then warm up and do a performance every night, it was like living my dream life.  

Q. What inspires you as an artist with your painting?

I find that I either want to transfer something from my heart onto the canvas, or I want to paint something that I find beautiful, calming, or relaxing. Because those are the kind of feelings that I want to share with people. During the beginning of the pandemic, I did a series on isolation, but now I am focusing on sharing a sense of serenity and simplicity through forest landscapes.  

Q. How did your acting career outside of USask start out and what are you doing now?

It’s been an adventure. I moved to Toronto and I didn’t know anyone in the communities, I just started to go to acting classes and studios. I made a lot of amazing partnerships and met people who believed in my ability and helped connect me to more people. I started out doing whatever I could to get involved in the theatre. I painted sets, helped design posters, and other behind the scenes things, and eventually I got to be on stage. After that I began to audition for film and television and that’s where my career tends to be focused lately; in some ways your career makes decisions for yourself and you are just there for the ride.  

Q. What would you say to someone who wanted a career path similar to yours?

Just go for it. Have all the courage to go out and learn as much as you can. Have faith in your own ability so that you can achieve your dreams. Try not to make any judgments about any of the stuff you receive and be very open to getting information from anywhere.  

Q. USask’s mission is to be what the world needs, how are you being what the world needs?

I think as performers, we become what the world needs when we lend ourselves to the stories that need to be told. In the time that we are currently in, we bring so much joy to people and show them a reflection of human moments that are often private in public.   

It’s the People of USask who enable us to be what the world needs.  

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