BIPOC Mentor: Juan Carlos Velis

"Hola. My name is Juan Carlos Velis, you can call me Juan Carlos, Carlos and as we become more familiar with each other you may also call me Juanca. My family and I arrived in Canada in the late 80’s due to the political situation affecting my native El Salvador. My father a University professor and my mother a teacher were considered a threat, (as most intellectuals usually are) and we were therefore kicked out by the right wing government of the times. We arrived in Canada with suitcases full of books and a couple changes of clothes. 

All I knew how to say in English was hello, how are jou? and what time eet ees? 

When I first graduated from the BFA Acting program at the University of Windsor and moved to Toronto, I made it my ritual to stay and wait for the actors after a show that I had enjoyed and introduced myself. I’d also call directors and I’d tell them how much I enjoyed their shows, and if it would be ok to meet, talk about the theatre scene in the city and ask for some guidance. I made so many connections that way that I’m still in touch with these days. 

I’m thankful to have since then worked in theatre, film, TV, radio, and video games across Canada, the US, Latin America, and Europe as an actor, writer, director, and producer. Since day one, I’ve always tried to help out my peers and colleagues. And I continue to be here to give a hand of guidance that I’ve simply gained through all my stage miles..."