Emily Schooley is an award-winning actor and filmmaker who is known for blending genres and pushing boundaries in her work.
Acting is her first true love, and Emily appeared in her first lead role – as the Country Mouse, in Aesop’s Fables – at the young age of five. Through elementary and high school, Emily continued to perform on stage in plays and musicals, though had originally planned on becoming a veterinarian. At graduation she received the Dramatic Arts award – as well as awards and scholarships recognizing her accomplishments in creative writing and volunteerism – and she began her formal acting training in the University of Windsor’s theatre program.
Her first-ever short film role, in Viktor – a student production by William Yeung – won best picture and Emily was nominated for best actress at the school’s film festival. Two years later, life saw Emily relocating to Waterloo, Ontario, where she continued her studies in dramatic arts and graduated with honors in 2007 from UW Drama.
During her years in Waterloo, Emily became involved with KWLT and FASS, two local theatre groups that she still feels strongly connected to. She performed in a benefit run of Top Girls by Caryl Churchill for a local actor with cancer, and read for several years as part of “She Speaks”, an annual night of staged readings for International Women’s Day.
Her notable early film roles include the titular, quirky Orange Girl, which gained her international fans when it screened as part of the Portobello Film Festival in the UK. In North America, the film won a two-star award from the Canadian International Film & Video Festival. Other roles – like the ethereal, malicious Spook in the short horror film The Ticket – are what began to earn Emily a much-deserved reputation as a scream queen.
In February 2010, Emily made the move to Toronto, and with it came her feature film debut. She filmed Black Eve that same month, playing the sweet and flirty Pimp. Among other accolades, the film won the Audience Choice Award at Bare Bones International Film Festival. With a taste for (fake) blood, Emily has gone on to star in other genre films; in recognition of her work, she was a featured interviewee in A Big Set of Lungs – a documentary about scream queens.
Emily has since appeared in well over a hundred screen, stage, and web productions. Some of her other all-time favourite on-screen roles include: the Lady in Red in Park Enforcer, Michelle in the much-lauded webseries Clutch, Cherry Bomb in the transmedia series Spy Slutz, helping rescued animals as herself on Save our Shelter, and that time she played Dana Scully in an X-files spoof.
Her favourite stage roles include Dahlia Joss in Zed.TO (which won the Performance Innovation Award at Toronto Fringe 2012), the “sensual and exciting” Lilith in Erotic Tales From the Old Testament, Frieda Ball in the world premiere of Maureen Jennings’ Death in a Black Suit, and Mia in Heatwave (aka Labels). She has also trained and performed extensively in improv with Second City and the now-dissolved Impatient Theatre Company.
Currently, Emily continues to work as an actor while simultaneously building her body of work and developing her voice as an emerging director. She is the founder of Laughing Cat Productions, a Toronto-based production company that focuses on telling intelligent, women-driven stories. Her two most recent short films – Life and the Art of Lying and Psyche – have both won awards; as a true polymath, Emily played the titular role in Psyche, alongside writing and directing the short film.
Outside of her creative work, Emily is an activist and animal enthusiast. She strongly supports gender equality and women escaping abusive situations, is an avid watchdog against police misconduct, and frequently speaks out for LGBTQ rights and equal representation in media. She also fosters rescue cats with Team Cat Rescue, an organization that focuses on saving animals from high-kill shelters.