Lindsay’s Anwen O’Driscoll takes on her most challenging movie role yet
It was at Lindsay Little Theatre where Anwen O’Driscoll got her start in acting. Having a father who was an actor and a mother who was a director and playwright probably helped seal her fate as a thespian.
While not everyone in Kawartha Lakes is familiar with O’Driscoll’s rise to fame yet, the 22-year-old actor has been taking on a wide variety of roles.
Recently, O’Driscoll took on her most challenging job ever after portraying a 17-year-old who was abducted by a teacher, almost strangled to death, and then left in a park to die. Based on a true story, Reeves incredibly survived the brutal attack in 2006. Her story is told in a new movie Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story, which premiered earlier this month.
Based in Toronto since the age of 19, O’Driscoll says she “immediately felt attached to the script” and at first didn’t realize it was a true story.
“Here was a real person, who went through real trauma, and she had such amazing resilience and I just wanted to do it justice,” she told the Advocate.
The actor says it was a “tough, emotional role” to take on and she won’t forget the “incredibly strong, inspiring person” that the real Ashely Reeves was.
“It was definitely my most challenging role so far.”
Filmed in Hamilton, Left for Dead was released in the U.S. by Lifetime network first. Its Canadian release date is so far unknown.
Early Days in Lindsay
Homeschooled in Lindsay since the age of seven, O’Driscoll has three siblings and all of them are actors, too. They all grew up immersed in small town theatre, with parental encouragement in the creative realms.
When she was 15 the family moved to a farm outside of Lindsay (near Dunsford) where they had upwards of 30 horses (with some equine boarding) and those years were among her favourite, she says.
“I would hang out at my house most the time,” says O’Driscoll, enjoying all the opportunities a horse farm provides. “My mom was also a riding coach so there were lots of chances to get involved” in life on the farm, including riding.
While the Lifetime movie was her most recent acting gig, her breakout acting role came in the form of CBC’s hit legal drama, Burden of Truth, which ran for four seasons from 2018 to 2021.
Now streaming on Netflix, the series stars Kristin Kreuk (of Smallville fame) and Peter Mooney (of Rookie Blue).
The series centres on lawyer Joanna Hanley (Kreuk), who walked away from her partnership at a big corporate law firm in order to figure out why a mysterious illness was afflicting high school girls in her home town of Millwood, Manitoba. (Millwood is fictional, but the series doesn’t shy away from its Canadian identity.) O’Driscoll’s role as a high school student afflicted by the mysterious illness grows throughout the seasons.
“For sure it was my biggest break,” O’Driscoll says of the Winnipeg-based television series. “I’d live there for about four months out of the year and then fly back and forth” to Toronto. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of her role in the show is she got to act alongside someone she grew up with — Star Slade. Slade plays the role of Luna Spence, and lived with O’Driscoll’s family when she was a teen. She grew up with O’Driscoll and, as such, the former Lindsay resident considers her a sibling.
The former Lindsay resident has also had roles in the TV series Hudson & Rex, American Gods, October Faction, Nurses, and Emerald Code, among others.
When asked to name a favourite Lindsay restaurant, O’Driscoll first thinks of Symposium but loves all the independent restaurants in town, too.
O’Driscoll has a manager based in Los Angeles who helps get her auditions in both countries. She says she’d love to work in New York, given how much she loves Broadway. “That would be my first choice (city) in which to work in the U.S.,” she says.
As for what comes next, O’Driscoll looks to be destined to spend more time in Winnipeg. At the time of this interview, the former Lindsay resident had another audition – and nailed it. However, she couldn’t give any details about the new project.
To learn more about O’Driscoll’s roles, visit her IMDB chronology.