From Degrassi to budding filmmaker


Miriam El Abbasi  | Arts Editor

Featured Image: Waisglass is a passionate writer, who recalls actively writing stories during her childhood and adolescence. | Tessa Waisglass

Sara Waisglass is a third year screenwriting student and actress, who now splits her time between and shooting films, and writing the next blockbuster hit, all while studying for her mid-terms.

Waisglass got her start as an actress at the age of seven, playing little Jordy Cooper on the ABC Family TV show, Overruled, which she worked on for three seasons. From there, she appeared in films such as Afterwards, alongside John Malkovich, and Life with Robert Pattinson. She then found her way onto the critically acclaimed Canadian TV show Degrassi, where she spent six seasons as Francesca “Frankie” Hollingsworth. Many probably know Degrassi as the show that launched hip-hop and R&B singer, Drake’s career, and similarly for Waisglass, it was where she was properly introduced to the film industry.

According to Waisglass, the set of Degrassi was like a well-oiled machine: “Schedules were made in advance and they tried their best to work around my exams. I was working with my best friends everyday, so it really didn’t feel like work at all!”

Of course, being a part of something that is so tightly woven into Canadian culture brings its challenges: “It was a lot of responsibility and I had to sacrifice a lot to ensure I got my school work done. However, everyone was wonderful and the experience was unforgettable!”

Waisglass is also a passionate writer, who recalls actively writing stories during her childhood and adolescence, but found herself starting projects more often than finishing them. It wasn’t until she was 17, after finishing her first screenplay, that she embarked on the journey to become a screenwriter.

When asked about the concepts she is most drawn to writing about, Waisglass replies: “A lot of people have told me that I’m very drawn to twists. And that they’ve never heard me pitch a film or a short story that didn’t have some giant twist at the end. I’ve always loved psychological thrillers. So any time I can get into someone’s mind, make them think one thing and then flip it on them- that’s what I love to do.”

Being a writer does bring with it several challenges, the most prominent, according to Waisglass, is the fact that every single idea can be construed as a cliché, and that the real struggle lies within trying to put a fresh spin on stories that have already been done. This, of course, is aided by tremendous amounts of brainstorming and group work to produce ideas that do not rely too heavily on their supposed cliché.

Working within the screenwriting program has also allowed Waisglass to gain some valuable insight: “Before I came to York and started studying screenwriting, I was all over the place. I didn’t understand how exactly to work a story and how to give the audience what they wanted/not what they wanted at the right times, so being at York has helped me a lot with structure.”

Some advice Waisglass offers to aspiring screenwriters is to always keep writing: “Even if you don’t like things, keep writing and if you are stuck, keep writing. You can always go back and delete things and rework them. Just because you have more drafts does not mean that you’re a horrible writer, it actually means you’re a good one. Also, definitely allow yourself to receive criticism, but you don’t always have to take criticism if you think it’ll affect your story. Because you are you, and your story is your story, you’re the boss.”

About the Author

By Excalibur Publications



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments