PASADENA, Calif. – “The 100” is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi series coming in March to The CW. The 100 could also stand for how many Canadians are working this season on The CW.
With so many CW shows shooting in Vancouver and Toronto, including “Supernatural,” “Arrow,” “The Tomorrow People” and “Beauty and the Beast,” the number of Canadians working CW shows could be closer to a thousand. Megan Follows (“Reign”), Stephen and Robbie Amell (“Arrow” and “The Tomorrow People”), Kristin Kreuk (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Colin Mochrie (“Whose Line is it Anyway?”) are among The CW’s Canadian headliners.
One of those thousand is Marie Avgeropoulos. The 27-year-old Canadian is among the stars of “The 100.”
Like Tatiana Maslany, the Regina-born, Golden Globe Award-nominated star of “Orphan Black,” Avgeropoulos hails from a relatively remote part of Canada — Thunder Bay, Ont.
So how does a girl from Thunder Bay get to Hollywood?
“I guess,” says Avgeropoulos, “dreams have no boundaries with geography.”
The actress was among the stars of “The 100” attending the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday. She’s not the only non-American in the cast. Eliza Taylor and Bob Morley both hail from Australia while Henry Ian Cusick is from Peru.
The series is set 97 years after a nuclear Armageddon has destroyed Earth, poisoning the planet. There are 400 survivors, mainly from international space stations. To test the air and the landscape, 100 juvenile prisoners are turned loose on the planet to see if it is inhabitable. Avgeropoulos plays one of these adventurous trouble makers, Octavia.
Her own path to Hollywood started at Thunder Bay’s Confederation College, where she studied television production. Upon graduation, she did some on-air news reporting for a local broadcaster.
A little voice in the back of her head, however, kept telling her, “Your creativity is calling you.”
Avgeropoulos moved to Vancouver and took acting classes. “On my off time when I was playing drums in a dive bar, I got scouted by an agent,” she says.
The agent drummed up roles for the actress on several shows shot in Vancouver, including, “Supernatural,” “Fringe,” “Human Target” and “Hiccups.”
Avgeropoulos eventually did what many ambitious young Canadian actors do — headed to Los Angeles. She dropped out of acting school, whistled for her Italian mastiff Calypso, jumped into her Dodge Spirit and headed south for Los Angeles. She had no job lined up and really no contacts in the States either.
“I was just a Canadian girl with a dream,” she said.
As so often happens with Canadians, she landed a role on a U.S. network series which promptly brought her right back to Canada.
Avgeropoulos became a regular on “The Cult,” a short-lived, shot-in-Vancouver series.
Some of the producers of that show went on to “The 100,” and so did the actress.
Don’t let her model looks fool you — Avgeropoulos is up for getting smudged and sweaty in “The 100.”
“I’m very into the outdoors,” says the avid snowboarder.
That’s good, for a lot of “The 100” is shot in the great outdoors. A river scene featured in the pilot was shot in rustic Squamish, B.C.
“I love to camp. I love to fish. So being outside in the wilderness and not inside of a studio, with no cellphone service, allows all of us to stay in character.”
While Thunder Bay has spawned U.S. network stars before — most famously “Letterman” bandleader Paul Shaffer — Avgeropoulos says no one in her family is in any way involved with show business. “Absolutely not. They’re nurses and dental assistants and my mom’s a bank teller.”
Growing up, she wasn’t even exposed that much to films or television.
“We never even had cable TV or anything,” she says. “Ironically, I have a degree in television broadcasting and now I’m an actress. It makes no sense.”
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.