Vas Saranga was born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in Toronto, Ontario. From a young age, Vas has set his sights on starring in movies like his idol Michael J. Fox. He began his journey into showbiz as a high school filmmaker, winning the screen arts award several years running for his short films. At the same, he also worked on developing his craft as a young actor playing the lead roles in several student films. Vas went on to attend York University where he continued to cultivate his skills by taking a variety of acting classes eventually hiring a private coach to hone his craft more seriously. His first big break came when he was cast in a lead role on TVO’s A WORLD OF WONDERS followed soon after by a supporting role in AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS: BETA HOUSE starring Eugene Levy. Vas eventually became widely known for his starring role as Reese in TELETOON’s live-action animation hybrid MUDPIT in which he also had the opportunity to let his musical talents shine by recording an album of songs featured in the show.
From there, he has appeared and starred in several film and television productions including recurring roles on AARON STONE (DISNEY) and UNNATURAL HISTORY
(CARTOON NETWORK). Credits under Vas also include THE BORDER (CBC), FLASHPOINT (CTV), THE LINE (THE MOVIE NETWORK), OVERRULED! (DISNEY), THE NATIONAL TREE (HALLMARK), TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL (CTV), THE STRAIN (FX) and BLOODWORK (IFC FILMS), among others. Coming up next, you can catch him on ORPHAN BLACK (BBC AMERICA), SALVATION (CBS), THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (STARZ) and web series JIB & JAB ON A QUEST.
Outside of acting, Vas enjoys documentary and portrait photography. An animal lover, he enjoys spending quality time with his Calico cat and Yorkie, who he adopted from HAPPY TAILS RESCUE, a volunteer-based organization in Ontario dedicated to rescuing neglected small dogs. Always trying to perfect his artistic voice, Vas has written and directed dozens of popular digital comedy shorts and recently completed writing a feature screenplay and a spec sitcom pilot.
We had an opportunity to chat with Vas. The interview is below.
Hi, Vas! Oooh . . . you know we must chat about Orphan Black! We’re passing tissue around the office. [sniff] The final season premieres on June 10th. You play an awesome recurring character named Amar. Can you tell us what we can expect from Amar’s last appearance?
I’ve been a fan of the show since it first premiered, so to play a recurring character in the final season was even more exciting than it normally would be. Orphan Black is notorious for being secretive about their plot lines, so I’m sworn to secrecy, but I can tell you that my character appears in a major storyline that will answer a lot of burning viewer questions!
You have starred in some of the best films, like the iconic American Pie film series, such as American Pie Presents: Beta House. Michael J. Fox is your idol. Have you always had a love for comedy?
I’ve loved comedy ever since I was a kid. Back to the Future is my all time favorite movie, and I grew up idolizing Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly. I think comedies are the most enjoyable and entertaining kind of films, to watch and to make. When I’m acting in a comedy, I feel like a kid again, so I’ll always have that connection with the genre. Comedy also has the most replay value – I personally watch my favorite comedies over and over again.
You became widely known for your starring role as Reese in Teletoon’s live-action animation hybrid Mudpit. Tell us about your character.
In MudPit my character Reese gets kicked out of his stepbrother’s rock band and he decides to start his own virtual rock band with some friends. Reese was really fun to play because he’s an ultra high energy character. He’s the optimist of the group and he usually has a goofy smile on his face. I enjoyed playing Reese’s extremely high and low moments – he has a LOT of them. The rest of the cast and I had a great time on set making each other laugh. My signature move as Reese was projecting certain lines in a really high pitched voice. It definitely woke up anyone who might have been sleeping on set.
You also recorded songs that were featured in the show. Did you have formal vocal lessons?
I took some private vocal lessons before working on the show and got lots of coaching from rock star Greig Nori and his team of talented musicians that created the music and provided additional vocals. It really made the songs sound legitimate. I play guitar, but to look like a real rock guitarist takes style, so we were coached by Dave Baksh, aka ‘Brownsound’ of Sum 41 fame, on how to look good while singing and playing in a rock band.
You’re also a documentary and portrait photographer. Tell us more.
I love photography. In my spare time, I’ve shot photos of other artists, landscapes, and all kinds of events. And tons of pictures of my pets. It’s a great skill to have and a nice artistic outlet outside of acting and filmmaking.
You have starred in several productions over the years. What has been your favorite takeaways?
Whenever I’m shooting a project I pay close attention to the other actors and how they work – especially the veterans. I’ve picked up lots of tricks from the greats. Some that help with memorizing lines, and sensing the camera and adjusting performance for different shot sizes. What’s also important is creating realistic ‘business’ – the physical actions that actors do while they are in a scene to bring life to it and make it more believable. I also enjoy studying directors and how they work. It’s helped me when I directed my own short films.
Thus far, what has been the best experience working in the entertainment industry?
I really value the professional relationships I’ve developed with filmmakers over the years, especially with producers and show runners. I’m very grateful when someone that I’ve worked with before casts me again in a new project. I don’t have a single favorite experience but I can highlight a few. I loved working with Bruce Kalish on Aaron Stone and MudPit, and I had a wonderful time working with Mike Werb on Unnatural History and Salvation. I had the time of my life working with Kurt Ogilvie and Kristopher Bowman on the new web series Jib & Jab on a Quest. I’m learning so much about making a great film from director Donald Petrie on the new movie Little Italy. The list goes on and on. Each project is a unique and enjoyable experience, which is what makes entertainment such a fun industry to work in.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?
In addition to the final season of Orphan Black that premieres June 10th, I’ve got a few projects on the go that I’m very excited about. I play an interesting recurring character on the new CBS series Salvation that premieres July 12, and I’m part of the cast of Starz Network’s The Girlfriend Experience, Season 2, which will be out later this year. I’m especially excited for people to see me play one of the title characters in a really cool new action-comedy web series called Jib & Jab on a Quest, which is securing funding right now. I’m also currently shooting a romantic comedy called Little Italy starring alongside Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen that is going to be hilarious!
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything I want, I would do ___________.
I have aspirations to have a career as both an actor and a writer. If I had the opportunity to do anything I want, I would shoot the feature comedy film that I co-wrote with one of my best friends, and long time writing partner, Shaun Rothman. It’s a project that we’ve had a great time developing, and we’re very excited to bring it to life in the near future.
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Featured Image: Photography by Vipoositha Gnanenthra.