Liliia Smichenko, AE Reporter

Actress and Humber College alumna Cara Ricketts recalled she wasn’t prepared when she stepped onto the stage in Toronto in February.

She was in the city attending the ACTRA Awards on Feb. 22 when her name was announced as the winner for 2020 Outstanding Performance for her work in Anne with an E.

“I was totally shocked, and then I went up there, and I didn’t write a speech because I didn’t think I was going to win,” Ricketts said in a March 25 telephone interview.

She said she never really made a decision to be an actor, it seemed something she always knew. Ricketts practiced since childhood, recording herself reading flyers on a camcorder and also performing in front of that camera.

Ricketts admits to bad grades in high school, but she applied for the Theatre Arts program at Humber College, and it was there where her career started.

“I felt the theatre program at the time that I went there was more about creating creators and it was ahead of the game really,” Ricketts said.

During her second year at Humber she was cast to work with third-year students on their show, even though some of them didn’t want her there.

She proved herself and ended up catching attention of the director, who eventually hired her to do Shakespeare in the Park. That in turn led to more work.

Humber Theatre Arts grad Cara Ricketts won an ACTRA Award in February for her work in the CBC’s Anne with an E. (Courtesy ACTRA)

Her professor, Tatiana Jennings, said she was one of the best students of her class.

“I always thought she would be one of the people who are going to do really well,” Jennings said.

Ricketts said one of her most memorable performances was when she landed her first lead role in Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline at the 60th anniversary of the Stratford Festival

“It just felt magical, and then in a funny way, the feeling of magic surrounding the piece ended up permeating the show itself, and every night we did that show, it was magical for me,” she said.

Later she decided to focus more on film and television and enrolled at the Canadian Film Centre for training.

She was cast in the Book of Negroes, a multinational co-production including Black Entertainment Television and the CBC, which later led her to Anne with an E.

Ricketts said everyone on set of Anne with an E was very supportive and like family to her.

“It was a lot easier to get that ACTRA award or even the nomination, which I was surprised about, but looking back, I’m like, yeah, it makes sense,” Ricketts said.