The Glebe is home to many interesting people. This month, we have interviews with actor and teacher Peter Dillon, and we continue with our third in a series of personal profiles of political candidates in the federal riding of Ottawa Centre: Damian Konstantinakos is the Ottawa Centre candidate for the Conservative party.
Meet Glebite Damian Konstantinakos
By Nicole Bayes-Fleming
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of personal profiles of political candidates in the federal riding of Ottawa Centre. Damian Konstantinakos is the Ottawa Centre candidate for the Conservative party.
Damian Konstantinakos can trace his family’s heritage in Ottawa back for over a century. The son of a Greek father and French-Canadian mother, his mother’s side of the family has a long history on Somerset Street. Konstantinakos himself grew up in the Hunt Club area, attending St. Patrick’s high school. He has two younger brothers who also live in the Ottawa area. “Every Sunday is family day,” he says. “We all get together for dinner at one of our three houses and our dad comes by, and we get to see the whole city that way.”
Konstantinakos received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Queen’s University, and later did his MBA through Queen’s at its Ottawa location. He credits this experience for giving him a broader understanding of the capital. “You can grow up in the city, you can work in the city, and think of it as two things: either high tech or government,” he explains. “I found there are so many other organizations, businesses and fields that thrive in this city.”
Following his degree, Konstantinakos began working in the telecom industry with Nortel. He continues to work there today at Ciena, which bought a portion of Nortel. His jobs have given him numerous travel opportunities, visiting places as far away as Japan and Australia. Konstantinakos explains he finds travel exciting, because it gives him the chance to see what people in other countries think of Canada.
Currently, Konstantinakos lives in the Glebe with his young family. His wife, Kirsten, recently completed the baking arts program at Algonquin College. The couple have two children, two-and-a-half-year-old Lysander and six-month-old-Kalandra. One of the family’s favourite pastimes is taking evening walks together, either along the canal or through Ottawa’s vibrant streets.
Throughout his childhood Konstantinakos adored playing hockey and baseball, although he admits he wasn’t too good at either. He was part of his high school football team and says he is pleased to see the sport return to Ottawa. “It was amazing for me to take my son and daughter to their first football game like my parents took me to my first Rough Riders games back in the day,” he says.
Konstantinakos combines his enjoyment of football with his passion for cooking by hosting themed Super Bowl parties for friends and family. He likes to spend as much time in the kitchen as he can, and over the years he’s experimented with making cuisines from scratch such as Thai and Mexican.
He says he often meets people who are surprised to find an engineering graduate working in politics, but explains it’s a field he’s had an interest in since he was young. “I grew up in a political house,” Konstantinakos says. “My family and I were very engaged in politics, never really on the same side. My dad and I would argue at the dinner table from the time I was a teenager.”
His father greatly influenced him growing up, pushing him to ask questions and form his own opinions. “When I ran in 2007 and our signs were up – he said, ‘You know, I came here 40 years ago, and our name is on signs in the city now,’” Konstantinakos says.
According to Konstantinakos, it’s important for people to become more aware of how accessible politics truly is. He points out that it’s easy for people to become involved through volunteering.
“I don’t think we disagree with one another as much as pundits and pollsters would have you believe. What people need to do more of is engage with their neighbours,” Konstantinakos shares. “Don’t shy away from talking to people who are willing to have a conversation with you on an issue, but may disagree with you.”
He says he believes people in the city are informed about the issues but don’t feel engaged, a reason why he finds it important to be present in the community and speak with voters.
“I knocked on a door in 2011 at 8:30 at night, and a gentlemen came to the door of the apartment building,” Konstantinakos recalls. “He and his family had just moved here. And he said – ‘You’re the candidate, you’re the candidate and you’re here.’ He couldn’t accept that, he woke his kids up to meet me. He said: ‘This is what they do here.’ That was the line that struck me. ‘This is what they do here, they come and they meet you.’”
Nicole Bayes-Fleming is a Carleton journalism student and a regular contributor to the Glebe Report.
Peter Dillon acts up in the Glebe
By Selena Beattie
On a day like any other in 1988, 18-year-old Peter Dillon was in Yaghi’s convenience store on Fifth Avenue when the owner’s daughter told him that her brother had just gotten an audition for a new television series to be filmed in Ottawa. “I ran home,” says Dillon, “called the station, and talked my way into an interview. The next call was to OC Transpo to figure out how to get to Merivale Road.”
He didn’t know it at the time, but that successful audition would land him the part in the teenage soap opera Denim Blues, and launch a successful career acting in film and television. It is a career that would take him much farther afield than this Ottawa neighbourhood, which he called home until the age of 22. Now, Dillon has come full circle and is back in the Glebe, teaching other Ottawa actors how to work successfully in front of the camera at The Acting Company.
In the interim, he has had a varied range of experiences. “I think I have 65 credits,” he says, “everything from small parts in big films like The Bone Collector, to big parts in small films, like a movie that I shot in Ottawa here last year called Corrupt, that is going to be released soon … and then last year I played the vice-president of the United States in a TV series!”
Pursuing an acting career hasn’t always been easy. After Denim Blues, there were few opportunities in Ottawa for professional screen gigs. “Everyone was saying that Vancouver was where it was at, that’s where you’ve got to be … so I packed up and moved from the Glebe to Vancouver,” says Dillon. “I quickly realized how expensive the world was!” It was a far cry from hanging out at the Glebe Community Centre.
Like so many other actors, Dillon took whatever jobs came, including an episode of Secret Lives, a fictionalized “confessional” show, in the style of Dr. Phil. He was so convincing as a trucker with a problem using prostitutes that friends of his brother back home in Ottawa began telling the family they were really concerned! But the acting work in Vancouver wasn’t as steady as he had hoped, so Dillon moved back east to Ottawa, signing with an agent in Montreal where a lot of filming is done. To support his career, Dillon also has a murder mystery dinner theatre production company. More recently, he finds himself dividing his time between Toronto and Ottawa, and travelling for roles whenever necessary.
The life of an actor means being available to work when and where the work is. “Last year, I had 50 days on set, which is fantastic for an actor to work 50 days in a calendar year … but you’ve got to hustle for that.” Some of that time was in Montreal, some in Toronto, some in Ottawa. “That’s the kind of lifestyle you have to have,” he says. “You have to be driven, you have to go where that work is.” It isn’t an easy life, says Dillon with a laugh, “but it’s a fun life!”
Dillon first started sharing his expertise about 12 years ago, when he founded an acting school. A few years in, he decided to take a break to focus on building his own career. But every once in a while he would pick up a class or do some coaching for other aspiring actors working up to an audition. Now, The Acting Studio co-founder John Muggleton has lured his long-time friend back to the classroom (or, rather, the studio). With a focus on screen acting, Dillon’s classes take a practical approach to imparting what an actor needs to know about being in front of the camera.
“It is completely different from theatre,” says Dillon. “On camera, the audience is right there, so every wink, every raised eyebrow has a much bigger impact.”
When shooting, you could be handed a script shortly before you go on set, and have to create chemistry with the other actors you are working with, perhaps only having met them 30 minutes before. There is so little rehearsal you really have to be prepared, notes Dillon, unlike theatre where there can be weeks or months of rehearsal. “The key,” says Dillon, “is really investing in the scene.” The three most important things he focuses on in his classes are “being prepared, being confident and being invested.”
The changes in technology from when he first started out make a big difference, he notes, both when working with others, and for his own career. Now, he can shoot a scene on an iPad and watch it immediately, so that he can see how a certain line comes across or adjust a nuance. It is a technique he uses regularly in both the classes he teaches and the private one-on-one coaching he does. Technology also makes it easier for actors based in Ottawa to audition for parts they might otherwise not have had access to without travelling long distances. It is not uncommon for a first audition to be done via Skype or by sending a video clip. All of which is a lot faster, and easier than having to figure out the bus connections to Merivale Road!
Peter Dillon’s screen acting classes are on hiatus for the summer, although he continues individual coaching. Screen acting classes with Peter Dillon will resume at The Acting Studio in the fall. However, there are many other courses for both adults and children offered over the summer. You don’t need to be an aspiring professional to enjoy the classes. The Acting Studio co-founder John Muggleton notes that many participants take a class to feel more confident in public speaking for their careers, or just as an enjoyable diversion and hobby. Full information on classes and workshops is available at www.actingcompany.ca
Selena Beattie takes an interest in matters of the Glebe and writes occasionally for the Glebe Report.