Murder, love, relationships and throw in some black magic, you’ll find that weekly when you tune into the Sault’s own TV soap opera, “Tami“!
For those unfimiliar with the show, “Tami” centres around the main character, Tami Rydall. A local tv internet star and the family and friends in her life. The show is unique in many ways, with some “characters” playing a fictional version of themselves, including the namesake of the series, Tami.
The show has a quirky element with the help of a few good witch’s and some bad ones too. Rydall plays herself but also her “twin” Yami – who just so happens to be a witch.
“Playing my fictional twin sister is more difficult due to the fact that I do not have acting experience…but I love the challenge. Playing myself is a lot of pressure on camera, it takes a level of confidence to put yourself in front of the public to be criticized and I am willing to make myself vulnerable publicly so I can inspire others! Do what you love no matter what others say… Oprah says, “Find your bliss”. Rydall said.
Rydall leads the cast of about 26 in the second season, which is currently airing on SHAW TV channel 10 as well as online with Wawa-News.com, Saultonline.com and the Tami TV soap opera page on Facebook.
The fifteen minute weekly soap is produced locally by CHUCK Media – owned by local long-time TV producer, Craig Huckerby. Huckerby also writes each episode, shoots and edits the entire series.
“The show just started off being a little fun project, but the reaction we got prompted us to change course and develop the show as a new Canadian soap opera” Huckerby said, “right now there isn’t one being produced in Canada other than “Tami” , we want to develop this show as a regular tv series bringing production to the area on a local level, it has a lot of growth possibilites for the Sault’s growing film and tv industry.”
“The opportunity to produce a soap evolved very quickly. I truly didn’t know how much work was involved in producing a TV show! I am learning every step of the way, at times I have been overwhelmed and made mistakes – but I have learned from them. I cannot believe the amount of time it takes to complete one episode.” Rydall continued, “I do know that while we are in production I work until 1 or 2 am, some days making sure I have completed my responsibilities. I want to thank my boss for the high level of patience and dedication he exhibits in order to teach me hands on. I am truly blessed that Craig has the faith in me to do it!”
The entire cast enjoys being part of the show, such as Mike Caruso who plays himself as an investigative reporter. “I love getting together with the group and having fun creating something original and totally local.”
Mario Rocchetta, plays Mario Brothers on the show. Rocchetta, a long time fan of the soap genra , loves being part of this first locally produced scripted tv series in Sault Ste. Marie. “It’s an absolute blast playing a bad boy on the show. I live it pretty straight in real life so it’s always fun to let loose in front of the camera and explore the dark side of a character.
“When I first joined the cast of “Tami,” I knew I’ d be playing a shady version of myself but I didn’t know to what extent. Script after script, I love seeing what Craig has done with the “Mario” character. He’s a bad boy yet you can’t help but to feel sorry for him once you start to see his past unfold.”
One other central character is Sandra Dunn, played by Sandra Hunter. Best friends in life and on the show, Sandra’s character was killed off in the season finale of season one – or was she? This season, she plays her older sister Yolanda who has a hate on for Tami.
“I had reservations playing the older sister, nasty Yolanda , but actually found it quite challenging and with a little encouragement and some advise from our naturally talented Boom Girl Tomi…I actually thought I maybe able to pull it off !” Hunter said, “I enjoyed playing two completely different personalities and working with the talented yet inexperienced cast members, it has been an awesome experience. I can only anticipate with curiosity what twisted characters and personalities are in store for Season 3.”
Huckerby stresses that working on a soap is different than a film set due to the speed in which the shows are produced. “We try to shoot one episode a week right now, at some point that will turn into two episodes or more a week as the show grows” Huckerby said, “As with any soap opera, the production is fast paced cramming in several scenes from several episodes in a single day.”
“I look forward to the challenge of every taping with excitement and nervousness , as you really don’t know how your particular character is going to look until it airs later on in the year when the season starts. Craig does an amazing job in editing the show and has such a talent in making everyone look great in each and every episode …whether nasty or nice!” Hunter said, “While taping is taken very seriously and there is a job to get done we all have a great time with little bloopers and chuckles here and there. We have formed a warm and friendly bond working with each other and I am looking forward to the creative and crazy story lines that Craig comes up with next ? I feel fortunate to be apart of Sault Ste Maries first Soap Opera and enjoy each and every moment! It has been an opportunity to step out of my comfort level… BIG TIME… Thank you, Tami and Craig for the encouragement and the opportunity!”
“This show is different then anything ive ever done and i enjoy doing it because of that. The cast is great, plotlines are very cool and im honoured to be a part of it.” said cast member, Kevin Collar, who hs played his “fictional self” for two seasons. The character of Kevin changes at the end of season two from a reocurring role to a front burner storyline that shows the character’s mean streak.
“Yes, well…i wouldnt quite call it mean, persay. I kidnapped someone and tied them up. I think thats a bit more then mean. But, I do enjoy playing mean. Again, it is a different method of acting for me. Im used to playing comedic roles and i was doing that for awhile on the show. Until now and im finding i really enjoy it.”
It’s those kind of challenges the actors discover each week as a new script is handed to them.
“The show wouldn’t happen without the dedicated group effort exhibited by everyone. I am passionate about our cast members because they all work to the best of their abilities and have been willing to face fears and give us the best they can.” Rydall said.
Rydall along with her acting duties is also show producer, and has the job of casting most of the roles needed for the series. “They are all regular individuals that have never done this before (with the exception of Kevin), I am very thankful, everyday they take time from their regular jobs to make this work!”
Laurie Jarret was cast as “Claire” Mario’s estranged wife who played a pivitol part on the end of season one showing up at Tami’s wedding to Mario, with a gun which ultimetly led to the demise of
“Sandra” when Claire pushed her off the cliff at Gros Cap.
“Being the bitch with feelings was kinda hard at first , because i couldnt hurt a fly in real life , but yet I cause alot wherever I seem to go ..(on the show) I laughed so hard when I had to swear or yell at someone .. but then got pretty good at it lol. Claire + a gun = suspense , and thats exactly how I felt filming . I look forward to seeing what trouble I can get myself into or who i am going to frame next … hmm watch out Tami as I chuckle with a revengeful grin and laugh!”
“I joined the cast of Tami at the end of season one , and I have loved every minute ! ,, The cast is wonderful ! We always have alot of laughs when filming, Craig is an awesome producer , I look forward to seeing how evil Claire can really be lol.” Jarrett said.
Tom Kovacs was cast as Clive the evil warlock of the witch’s council who is constantly causing problems for bad girl witch Yami and her good witch daughter Shaylan.
“I love the “Power” thing.” laughed Kovacs. “Everyone says they can’t believe I can pull off that role because for the most part I’m pretty laid back and the evil guy I portray is very aggressive with a mean streak going big time. The whole experience is a lot of fun. The people I do this with are really nice from all walks of life. Over and above working together you also establish wonderful friendships. We’re all newbies at this sort of thing so we are all very supportive of each other and have a lot of laughs along the way.”
Shaylan Spurway plays Yami’s daughter and good friend of Tami.
“I think it’s best to say I had mixed emotions when I found out I was a good witch. I was a little relived to be playing a nice character but in terms of the acting, it’s always fun to play the villain. I think that’s the coolest part about acting, you get to be someone different with each project, be it theatre or this TV soap. I feel very lucky to be able to wear a different hat with each different role and because I’m witch in Tami, who knows where that could lead with just this single role.” Spurway said.
Spurway has been part of the show since episode one and is happy to be part of this exciting local project.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of the Sault’s first TV soap. When we first started production it was a very small group of people and to see how much it has grown, and the amount of talent that we have locally, it is all very inspiring. Many people have volunteered a lot of time for this project and their passion is a breath of fresh air amidst our busy lives. Being involved since day one I can say that I’m proud to see how it has evolved.”
“It really is a fun show and it is what it is – just campy soapy goodness” Huckerby said.
Huckerby says a third season will be in the works soon with filming beginning this Summer. Another season of 13 episodes are planned. Season 2 wraps up with a shocking turn of events and if you want to find out what happens next – stay tuned!
Photo 1: Angela Pezzotti (Corren) | Photo 2: Kevin Collar | Photo 3: Mario Rocchetta | Photo 4: Tami Rydall | Photo 5: Tom Kovacs (Clive)