Don't mess with a soprano  

A life in showbiz

Angela Quinn’s life would make a great movie of the week. The Okanagan actor could even play herself.


Angela was 17 and in the middle of her last year of high school in Penticton when she auditioned in Vancouver for a remake of the 1950s musical, Bye Bye Birdie, for ABC’s Movie of the Week. 

It was her first audition for film. She was too young to be scared, but who did she think she was?  A tiny girl with big aspirations. Could she do it? 

Yes, they loved her.

She was offered a principal role, but had 24 hours to accept their offer….

This story didn’t start there.

Angela was born in Malaysia to a Canadian oil-rigger dad and a Malaysian mom. In the early 1980s, the family moved to Canada and settled in Penticton.

Angela, diminutive in size, was huge in competitiveness, energy and drive. She studied martial arts, competed in piano, swimming and all genres of dance.  

She devoured every opportunity to sing, dance or act that Penticton had to offer. She won the Miss USA Classic Dance Competition in Vancouver in 1994 — the only year the competition was held to Canada.

“The trophy was bigger than I was,” she said with a laugh. And said, with an extra chuckle: “I kept the tiara.”

She spent her youth preparing for a career in the entertainment business, but could she give up graduation, prom, provincial exams and all the fun of grad year and instead join the cast of Bye Bye Birdie? 

Angela accepted the offer.  


She has worked in films ever since. 

In front of the camera, she has had Christina Ricci put a gun in her face in the feature film, Distorted.

Behind the camera, she revelled in having music, blocking — mapping out of where you will be on stage for a scene — and dancing rehearsals with stars such as Vanessa Williams, Jason Alexander and Irwin Fisch, the New York musical director of Bye Bye Birdie.

For 20 years, she kept insane working hours. She choreographed, she acted, was an extra, stand in, and lead in so many films and TV series she can’t remember them all.

She raised a son, finished her bilingual diploma in English/French and commuted continually between the Okanagan and Vancouver for filming opportunities. She longed for the day when she could move back to the Okanagan.

Many people remember 9-11, but Angela remembers it with a little more poignancy that most. She was filming an episode of the TV series Jeremiah, starring Luke Perry and Malcom Jamal-Warner on Sept. 9, 2011. 

It was an American set crew, including the wife of an American Airlines pilot, who was flying that day. It was the most chaotic and stressful day of filming she has ever experienced.

“The stress level was completely through the roof," she said, “no one was mentally present. I kept the call sheet for that day, so I could remind myself how fortunate I was and how scared we all were.”

Hours later, the wife learned her husband was safe.

“Don’t believe the misconception that the movie industry is glamorous,” says Angela. It can be gruelling, uncomfortable, stressful and exhausting. Plans change constantly.  Scenes are cut, changed, rewritten daily.  You need to be adaptable and malleable. 

Angela’s calm exterior is a highly organized, intelligent mind that loves what it does.


Angela longed for more balance between work and life. Seeking that balance, in 2015, she moved to Kelowna and was soon immersed in the theatre scene and became artistic associate for Kelowna Actors Studio.  She loved being a part of their family.

In 2018, a friend introduced her to the job of casting. Angela smiles and said she had an epiphany.

“This job would give me more personal time. I loved all aspects of this job,” she said.

The idea that she could work just as effectively from Kelowna as Vancouver excited her and she knew she would be good at it. 

She has the ability to assemble and manage the egos involved, to juggle the instant changes required by the producers, to make schedules, to change schedules, to find talent, to hold auditions.

“This was a very exciting change for me,” Angela said with a chuckle. 

It's not a job for everyone. A casting director hires talent via agents and self-represented actors. She seeks the best actors for a production and hires talent for the production company. 

Angela takes great pleasure helping directors and producers fulfil their vision with the talent she finds. She loves the preparatory meetings and planning, but her favourite time is when they “go to camera,” the first day of filming.

Angela soon noticed Okanagan talent, although just as capable as Vancouver talent, lacked training and knowledge about auditioning for film. 

“I wanted to bridge the gap between auditioning and getting hired” she said. “So I started the Actor Development Program (ADP).”

Angela loves to teach and share what she has learned from working in the business. Her ADP program happens four times a year, following the seasons. The fall classes for youth and adults will be starting soon.

Has she found balance between work and life?

“COVID stopped everything. No work, lots of life. Now, the entire industry is anxious to work.” 

She is crazy busy these days. “I have so many films in productions today, I’m having a hard time keeping them straight.”

Busy as she is, five years from now she wants to be doing exactly what she is doing now, plus finding more time to jump behind her partner, Jeff, and ride his motorcycle across the country.

Perhaps a remake of Easy Rider is in the works for Angela?



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About the Author

Sue Skinner is a singer of opera and musical theatre, a choral conductor and a teacher/coach of voice. 

She has travelled the world, learned many languages, seen every little town in Alberta and supported herself with music all her life.

She has sung at weddings, funerals, musicals, operettas, opera, with symphonies, guitars, jazz groups, rock bands and at play schools. 

Skinner has taken two choirs to Carnegie Hall, sung around the world, and teaches for Wentworth Music on Zoom.

[email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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