Retired Theatre Prof. John Krich remembers Karpluk, 17 when she arrived at UVic, as a student who tended to get overlooked for major parts in Phoenix productions. “She was young and little girlish, but she took chances and threw herself into stuff,” says Krich. “She’s very much like you see on the screen: talkative, that kind of quirky quality.”
She had roles in Phoenix productions of Les Canadiens and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and she did a lot of work for directing classes and shorter one-act plays. In the summer after UVic, she and Krich performed opposite each other in David Mamet’s Oleanna, at the Victoria Fringe Festival.
“John was a really amazing prof,” she says. “The reason I liked him so much, and we all did, was because of his stories and his life experience… being able to learn from his storytelling and his own vulnerability.”
The transition from the stage to the small screen can be a tough one. Production days can go on for 16 hours, and because scenes are often shot out of sequence it can be a challenge to maintain focus. But it’s something that came naturally for Karpluk after graduation. She tried the theatre route, but had no success when she auditioned for the National Theatre School or the Shaw and Stratford festivals.
Film and television work, on the other hand, came quickly—it was just a matter of putting her mind to it. After graduation she had taken a solo trip to Thailand, and on New Year’s Eve 2001 she was back home and thinking about a trip around the world.
“I was drinking coffee and looking out the window and my mom was doing the dishes and she’s like, ‘so sweetie do you want to do this acting thing?’ And I said, I do, mom. And she said, ‘Well, your father and I were talking and we’re going to help you put a down payment on a place in Vancouver, if you want.’ Half an hour later we were in the car driving to Vancouver.”
That’s the thing. For all of her determination, the resolve and the independent streak that might have put her at odds with her parents, Karpluk and her family are tight. They managed to stay that way even after her parents divorced when she was in Grade 7. From them she got support and inherited a strong work ethic.
“My family was really good about letting me do whatever I wanted to do,” she says. “They usually didn’t have a choice. But as long as I’m happy, they’re happy. They didn’t have any expectations. If anything, I put the expectations on myself.”
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