A production of Fame at Maple Ridge secondary was Jaime Callica’s first introduction to acting.
But the dancer and athlete dropped out of the high school production before the musical even hit the stage to pursue sprinting with the Maple Ridge secondary track team.
“I was running really fast and the track took over,” explained the local actor who still lives in Maple Ridge.
“I always joke about it because I’ve got to apologize to that theatre teacher one day in an interview when I’m doing it live and say, ‘Hey, I’m so sorry. I should have stuck with it,’” he laughed.
Callica will be playing Don, a drag performer, in the second season of the Romeo Section this fall on CBC.
Always the entertainer, Callica knew he wanted to pursue acting, but never focused on it.
Callica was born in Toronto and moved to Maple Ridge when he was a teenager. At first, he concentrated on a career in dance.
But then he was hit by a drunk driver. After a year of physiotherapy, five days a week, four hours a day, his future in dance was over.
“I found when I got back to physical health after about a year and a half to two years, it felt like I had literally lost a step and at that point I’m like, ‘I’m not dancing at the same level that I was dancing at before,’” said Callica.
Then he made the switch into business.
Callica got into real estate business and started buying retail stores.
But one day, he decided he wanted to act. He was a fan of theatre and cinema and wanted to be an entertainer himself.
“I just didn’t know how to go about doing that myself. And, really, once I did, it was just easy to never look back and to know this is what you are going to do.”
During the following year, he sold off his properties. In 2011, he started acting classes and auditioning for roles.
His first paid acting gig was a brief role on the hit television show Smallville in 2011.
Smallville is based on the comic book character Superman.
Callica played the part of a kissing couple – the character name on the credits – along with an ex-girlfriend. They had a little bit of dialogue as they walked and talked in downtown Smallville before sitting down at a café and leaning in to kiss one another.
But an assassin named Deadshot fires a bullet that passes between their lips before they touch.
“It got edited down to basically us sitting and then everything going to Deadshot,” said Callica.
“It was super disappointing, then to get edited down to what just looked like a blur. But it was still a great experience,” he added.
Since that role, Callica has received credits in numerous productions, but this year has been his busiest to date.
In addition to the Romeo Section, Callica booked and shot an episode of Motive, a Canadian drama set in Vancouver, in February. In it, he plays a radio disc jockey named Shawn Bailey.
Then he shot a season of the Fox television series Wayward Pines, an American science fiction drama starring Matt Dillon.
He booked a role on a pilot called Imaginary Mary, a comedy featuring actress Jenna Elfman of the sitcom Dharma and Greg that got picked up by NBC.
He also booked Lighthouse Picture’s romantic comedy the Super Millionaire, his second feature length film.
Callica finds comical roles much harder to play than dramatic ones.
“When I watch Jason Bateman and some of these really funny people on television, even if the joke is kind of corny, I still appreciate the work,” said Callica.
“To be funny on command,100 per cent of the population that doesn’t act has no idea how difficult it is,” said the actor.
“Someone had to write that and then they rewrote that. Then an actor, who normally would not say the things that were written for them, had to take those words and say them not once or twice but dozens of times for the multiple set ups for the shot,” explained Callica, who added that a single scene can take up to three hours to shoot.
Callica admits, because of that, he was nervous filming the Super Millionaire.
Unlike in his first feature film, the Perfect Pickup, if he fell flat comically, he was surrounded by other funny characters.
However, his character, Jerod, in the Super Millionaire, is the only comic relief in the movie.
“If Jerod falls flat, the movie is not funny,” he said.
“I wasn’t sleeping at night before set because I was just so nervous that it wouldn’t read as funny on camera.”
Dramatically, though, his character Don on the upcoming season of the Romeo Section, is unlike anything he has ever played.
Callica loved the challenge of playing a gay man.
Season 2 of the Romeo Section, created by Chris Haddock, also creator of Intelligence and Da Vinci’s Inquest, will follow the story line of Wolfgang McGee, played by Andrew Airlie, who is tasked with a covert investigation into an alleged terrorist incident. He calls upon an old acquaintance to help him, a disgraced intelligence operative named Norman, played by Brian Markinson, who is in a committed relationship with Don.
“I had to dance in heels. So my dance background helped because most guys would not have been able to do what I had to do. If you’re not a dancer, it would have been difficult, let alone having to do it in heels.”
He also had to watch what he eats.
“Every day eating is the worst part of my life right now,” said Callica, even though he admits he is in the best shape of his life.
“I am so conscious of what I can and can’t eat because every episode my character has at least a scene where I am naked. They might give me a little thong or boxers, but at least topless,” he said.
The show is filmed in Vancouver, both on location and in the studio.• Season 2 of the Romeo Section premieres Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. on CBC.