Amazing Asians in the Arts: Elena Juatco
Elena Juatco is a musical theatre and TV actress based in Toronto, Canada! She got her start in the arts world when she made it into the Top 6 in Season 2 of Canadian Idol and since then has performed in various theater productions such as “Kinky Boots” and “Les Miserables” and more recently on the hit TV shows “Schitt’s Creek” and “JANN!” Keep reading to find out more about what makes Elena an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Elena Juatco
Heritage: Filipino & Chinese
Hometown: Vancouver, Canada
Current City: Toronto, Canada
I play Jann Arden’s manager Cale on “JANN” which is now streaming on Crave in Canada. Binge it now because Season 2 airs this fall on CTV! I was also recently seen on one of the final episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” as Ruth!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
My first series regular role on was as Dr. Scarlet McWhinnie on “Open Heart” which aired on YTV, ABC Spark, and TeenNick. I finally felt like I made my mom proud because she told everyone that I was a doctor. I also have a musical theatre background and understudied Eponine in Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary Production of “Les Misérables” at the Princess of Wales Theatre and played Nicola in “Kinky Boots” at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I have a beautiful rescue dog named Sampson who is a big German Shepherd-Sheltie mix, and he’s cute as heck!
I can recite the alphabet backwards.
I have also perfected the recipe for the Big Mac Quesadilla and it has saved me during this quarantine. You can find the recipe on my Instagram @elenajuatco – please send me your pictures if you make it because they bring me joy!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Immerse yourself in all areas; not just acting, singing, and dancing, but also writing, producing, and directing. Don’t aim to make it perfect – just make it! Travel. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Know that your perspective is enough and it is what audiences want to hear. Be yourself.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I am the Creative Facilitator for SExT: Sex Education by Theatre, which is a program that educates youth on sexual health and healthy relationships using theatre. SExT has had two national tours, educating thousands of youth using songs, skits, spoken word, raps, and dance. I also directed two music videos with the group in partnership with The Canadian Foundation for Aids Research: “Bodak Consent” (a Cardi B parody about consent” and “Tunnel Vision” (an original song I also co-wrote with one of the youth, Mary Getachew, about intimate partner violence). You can watch both videos on YouTube or on the SExT website at www.SexEducationByTheatre.com
How did you get your start?
When I was 18 I auditioned for Season 2 of Canadian Idol in my hometown of Vancouver. At the time I was a first year university student studying Biology. I made it to the Top 6 and it was an awakening of sorts. I realized that my voice mattered and that there was no point doing something I didn’t love. Beautiful change happens when you believe in yourself. So I changed my major to Drama, got an agent, performed in shows while being a full time student, moved to Toronto after finishing my degree, and just went for it!
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I was singing and performing since I was a little girl and I just lived for the Arts. It was always my passion. I was also very academic in high school and did really well in Math and Science, so my mother pressured me to follow medicine and be a doctor like she did. I made it to second year of Biology in University. It was a fruit fly lab that broke me. I had to chart hundreds of gene mutations and I was like NOPE. I changed my major to Drama and minored in Women’s Studies instead. I decided to pursue my passion for a living and I have zero regrets.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between shows to pay the bills?
SO MANY!!! The most interesting ones were Christmas Elf, Flash Mob Performer (which was a mixture of super fun and super awkward) and Golf Cart Driver for drunk people at a racetrack
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I also speak French, Spanish, and some Portuguese. I love languages. I’m also a really great cook!
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Not losing faith. After years of doing theatre, I wanted to do more film/TV acting but I couldn’t get a job on set for a year. Casting directors liked me, but I was always one of the final choices and then they would pick the other girl. It is heartbreaking and can really dampen your spirits. I had to teach myself how to be proud of my work and to find joy in that instead of basing my happiness on other people’s validation. It’s hard, but if you have a strong support system to remind you that you are enough no matter what, you’ve got everything you really need.
Where did you study at?
I got my BAH in Drama and Women’s Studies from Queen’s University. I love studying at different acting studios to get the best out of what each one has to offer, but my home studio is LS&Co led by Michèle Lonsdale-Smith. She has really helped me fall in love with acting again.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I released an album independently in 2015 called “Beyond This Line.” It was a compilation of my own original songs and I also accompanied myself on guitar and piano. It was something I’ve always wanted to do my whole life but was always scared to do it. I’m so so proud that I did that. It wasn’t a perfect album, but it was mine and it was a lot of hard work. After releasing that album, I was less afraid to create and put it out into the world. It was definitely an important step in my growth as an Artist.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I want to be the lead in a romantic comedy! I always get type-cast to play the best friend, but I know that I can tell a great love story because I know so much about the pursuit of love. Then again, I also want to be in a horror movie and scream and cry and maybe even get tortured. Actors are weird.
What do you love most about what you do?
Finding honesty in the different characters I play. I love the exploration of humanity. I also love working with an ensemble.
What inspires you?
I always get inspired when I see someone fully immersing themselves in their craft; when there’s a beautiful balance of vulnerability and skill.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
My super power is definitely a combinations of Determin8sian and Concentr8sian!
To find out more about Elena, including prime footage of her dog dogging really well, please visit her at: