Artenzza

Don Mike

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Actor

About

Don Mike is a rising actor to watch, who was born in Montreal, Quebec, raised in Toronto, and now resides in Vancouver. Don can be seen starring in major film and television shows including American Gods sharing the screen with Orlando Jones; Supergirl, Reginald the Vampire; and the feature, Ordinary Angels in which he starred alongside Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson. Coming up next, Don is set to captivate audiences with his recurring role as Omar in the highly anticipated MGM+ series Hotel Cocaine.

"You can’t change the wave, but you can learn to flow"

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Interview

Can you tell us about your journey from music to acting? What inspired you to make that transition? 
 
The music industry was (and still is) full of deception, predatory contracts, shady deals, etc. You’d be surprised at how many of your favourite artists, or highest record-selling acts (past and contemporary) don’t own the rights to their discography! 
 
Storytelling through sonics and lyrics were what drew me to music. My aspirations as a music producer weren’t progressing as I hoped. I was simultaneously captivated by another form of story-telling (Film/TV), so I took the leap. Additionally, the presence of various unions and regulatory bodies in the film industry encouraged my transition. 
 
Your education at George Brown College included both Business Administration and elective filmmaking courses. How did these studies influence your approach to acting? 
 
There’s an old industry saying that goes something like this: “the business in film business is bigger than the “film” part – illustrating an orthographic parallel with the length of the words, to convey that the business side of things is bigger than the artistic side. My time at George Brown College planted the seed for a business-minded approach to the industry. For instance: I opted against switching majors, because the return on investment on a theatre diploma didn’t make sense. I’d have a better bang for my tuition bucks, with a business diploma. So, while continuing my studies in college, I began taking workshops and classes at prominent acting studios in Toronto. 
 
Witnessing the emergence of BIPOC performers during the streaming boom was a turning point for you. Can you share more about how this influenced your decision to pursue acting seriously? 
 
It’s simple: I saw lots of people who looked like me, as leads and/or main characters, in various episodic series. Before the streaming wave opened up those doors, I thought pursuing that path would’ve felt like swimming upstream. 
 
If you were an advertisement, which would your slogan be? 
“You can’t change the wave, but you can learn to flow.” Hope you’re all catching these puns/double entendres.
 
You’ve studied at prestigious acting studios in Toronto and taken various workshops. How did this training shape your skills and prepare you for your first professional role in AMERICAN GODS? 
 
Yes, and no. I generally feel like I got lucky with that one. During the audition, the casting director asked me to infuse my cultural background into the role, and I performed the lines in a West-African dialect. That may have worked in my favour. 
 
Working alongside stars like Orlando Jones in AMERICAN GODS and Hilary Swank in ORDINARY ANGELS must have been incredible. What were some key lessons or memorable moments from these experiences? 
 
Both were memorable, as they marked significant milestones. AMERICAN GODS was my debut professional role, and ORDINARY ANGELS was my first major studio picture. Great experiences, overall! 
 
Your upcoming role in HOTEL COCAINE is highly anticipated. Can you give us a glimpse into your character Omar and what audiences can expect from the series?
 
Omar is the Maître D’, overseeing the Mutiny Hotel‘s day-to-day operations alongside the series’ star, Danny Pino. He’s a stylish, street-smart multitasker, with a slight comedic edge. You might see him pop up in various episodes, relaying important information to Roman Compte (played by Danny), confiscating guns from guests at the club, or running around putting out other metaphorical fires. 
 
Outside of acting, you have a keen interest in documentaries and podcasts on diverse topics. How do these interests influence your acting and storytelling? 
 
While the documentaries and podcasts I consume don’t directly influence my acting, I may occasionally note down a gem from a psychologist or a family counsellor, that could inform my script analysis, but that rarely happens. 
 
As a fan of stand-up comedy, do you find that humor plays a role in your acting? Do you draw any inspiration from your favorite comedians in your performances? 
 
I also don’t draw inspiration or influence from the comedians I keep up with… but I do hold a deep respect for their craft. It’s very daunting to get up in front of a stage, with nothing but a microphone, and the expectation of laughter. 
 
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring actors, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, who are looking to break into the industry? 
 
Advice? Don’t don’t do it. Seriously. But if you must pursue it because you can’t imagine doing anything else, have a crystal-clear reason driving you. Make sure that reason isn’t superficial. I’d also recommend concurrently pursuing something else you’re equally as passionate about. In this field, there can be lengthy periods without work or auditions, so it can be worthwhile to get your creative juices flowing in other ways
Don Mike Artenzza Magazine

Projects

Do you want to know more? You can find some projects below.