Photo courtesy Emily Haine
Today, Emily Haine is a busy actor.
The Richmondite stars in the dark comedy Criminal Genius, at Vancouver’s Blake Snyder Theatre at Go Studios.
She’s also in the middle of shooting a new CBC show, an all-Canadian story “Unspeakable,” about the tainted blood scandal.
In her own life, Haine had something she thought unspeakable for many years.
Haine’s childhood, near No. 2 Road and Blundell, started fine.
She went to the former K-3 Garrett Elementary School just down the road from home.
“It was 200 kids max in the whole school,” she says.
Haine remembers Kindergarten with particular fondness.
“I’m still good friends with someone from Kindergarten and with Mrs. Rae our teacher. My friend invited Mrs. Rae to her wedding. She remembered all of us.”
Even in Kindergarten, Haine noticed good acting.
“Mrs. Rae had a banana phone bit she did. She’d pick up someone’s banana and pretend it was an incoming call.”
Haine started acting when she was five or six, studying first ballet and then musical theatre at Arts Connection in Steveston.
Even though Haine’s parents, Susanne Haine and Hans Sulzenbacher no longer live in Richmond, her aunt and uncle, Shelley and Marvin Dietz, still do. Haine’s summers were spent with them in East Richmond: “They had City Farm Daycare. I went to their daycare as a kid. I spent every summer there. We aren’t really related by blood; they are my family by choice.”
Haine went on to Blundell Elementary after Garrett, then into early French immersion at James Whiteside Elementary. The presentation by immersion students piqued her interest but Haine had extra incentive to learn Canada’s other official language.
While her parents didn’t speak French, Haine’s grandmother in Montreal was Francophone.
“I wanted to be able to speak a secret language with my grandmother. Full immersion was a tough transition at the beginning.”
“I didn’t tell her for two years. Then, I picked up my grandmother from the airport one day and started speaking French. She was completely flabbergasted. She was so shocked, so happy.”
But there was another side to Haine’s life, “I felt really lost as a young girl and really ashamed.”
And the secret she hid? “I struggle with depression,” she says.
As elementary school ended, Haine says, “I was lined up to go to McRoberts (senior secondary) but it got to be too much and really overwhelming, so in Grade Nine, I started homeschooling. I would just go to school for study block. It was the best option for me.”
She speaks of the self-imposed isolation: “Depression at the time, it was something I really did feel ashamed of and really kept it to my self. And I didn’t know how to confide with the school about it.”
After high school, Haine used substances to numb the pain of depression.
“I was self-medicating all the time.”
But she came to a realization: “It was a choice I was confronted with. Show up. Do acting class, or self-medicate but I couldn’t do both.”
Haine chose acting.
“It’s a form of release through my art. I know myself better. My accomplishments took me away from that dark path.”
She studied hard, both in England and back in Canada.
“A lot’s changed. I made a big change in the way I live. I try to avoid all stuff that I know to be a downer. I don’t drink as much anymore. I try to avoid unhealthy food. I exercise and get enough sleep,” she says.
“Also I do what I love. I have a lot of expression and fulfilment in my life. I play music and I write and I paint. I find that I’m not running away from those dark feelings anymore. I’m embracing them which makes it easier when down things happen, when dark things happen.”
After acting stints in the hit TV series Supergirl and in Fargo where she worked with Kirsten Dunst, Haine’s love of performing continues to grow.
The current play, Criminal Genius—which she describes as a pop-up play, put together by a group of friends, all professional actors, just for this run—offers Haine a chance to tread the boards while her TV muscles continue to flex in the CBC TV series.
“I do love every minutes of it. l love the 18-hour days, even the sporadic fluctuation of the work,” says Haine.
“I look at acting as something that saved me. It gave me a purpose.”
Watch CBC listings for “Unspeakable.”
Haine’s current show, Criminal Genius, runs through Saturday, May 5, 2018.