By Luaine Lee
Tribune News Service
PASADENA, Calif. –Ever since she was a little girl actress Laura Vandervoort has chased perfection. While she wishes she could escape it, she understands that it’s shaped her life.
It led her to triumph in martial arts earning a second-degree black belt and it propelled her into the acting field.
It turned out that both skills earned her to starring role in the Syfy’s edgy version of the werewolf legend, “Bitten,” which celebrates its finale on June 5.
“I’m the hardest on myself,” she nods, seated in a wing chair in the foyer of a hotel here. “No one’s as hard on me as I am. and I get nervous or stressed out or anxiety before a scene or before stunts. This time I just told myself to suck it up and go to work. Once you get through it and you realize not only did you get through it, but the producers and the writers and directors are all thrilled, that’s a great feeling.”
Vandervoort thinks she knows why she can’t stop stressing. She suffered from meningitis when she was just a month old and almost didn’t make it.
“I fought so hard as a baby I thought there must be a reason for that and I should really try to make something of the life that I’ve been given that I wasn’t supposed to have,” she says.
She studied karate from the age of 6 to 20. She also aced her grades and coaxed her parents into letting her try acting after she saw “My Girl” on TV. “It was the first movie that affected me and I was crying as a kid. And I never experienced that watching a program on TV. I think that’s the moment I asked my parents if I could try acting because the young girl in the movie was making me feel that way, and I thought, ‘I want to do that. I want to make people feel that.’ So they let me.”
Vandervoort is one of those rare child performers who managed to metamorphose easily into adult roles. But it was a long time coming. Her school mates used to tease her about acting. “They called me ‘Goosebumps’ in school. I wouldn’t let it bother me, I was such a loner anyway,’ she shrugs.
“I went to the dojo and went to school and got straight A’s so I wasn’t really ever the partying
person. And I didn’t care what people thought and didn’t care about style and being like everybody else. So it didn’t bother me. I’d laugh and that’s it. It didn’t affect me in any way.”
Her parents, who work together in her father’s insurance company, always supported her. “Not that I told them about what the kids did, but I think it’s just me going home and them saying, ‘We’re proud of you. Good job.’”
Born and raised in Canada, Vandervoort was reluctant to move to Los Angeles, even though much of the work was here. Finally, six years ago, when a relationship went sour, she determined to make the change.
“Three years ago I really committed to being here but six years ago I started renting a place on my own and then went back and forth to Canada because I wasn’t sure. Then three years ago saying, ‘OK, I’m buying furniture,’” says Vandervoort who’s wearing a tight royal blue sheath topped with a black blazer.
Though most in the entertainment industry saw her as a child actress from roles in shows like “Goosebumps,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark” and Disney projects, she managed to erase that stereotype when she was cast as Supergirl in “Smallville.”
“Multiple times I wanted to quit,” she admits. “I think that happens to all of us in the industry. There are ebbs and flows in the industry and also transitioning from child actor into an adult actor was a challenge, having the casting people see me in a different way. And there were periods when you’d go without work for a year and you start to question what you’re doing. ‘Why am I here? I move mountains to try to do this.’”
She was in the verge of quitting when her agent phoned to coax her to audition for “Smallville” on tape. I said, ‘Yes, it’s going to be the last one.’ So I put myself on tape and then a week later they wanted me to fly out and test for it, and then I had the job. And since ‘‘Smallville’’ it’s been go.”
In spite of her work ethic, Vandervoort, 29, does allow time for a private life. She’s in a happy relationship with actor-musician-host Oliver Trevena and would like to marry someday.
She’s careful, she says, about whom she dates. “I do try to avoid people who are caught up in the industry, people who think about the status and who they’re hanging out with. It’s more about people who love their family and are close to their family and are respectful and you allow each other to shine and support each other.”