• John Jantak

Former Saint-Lazare resident revels in his recent acting gigs


PHOTO BY BERTRAND CALMEAU

The drama program at Hudson High School (now Westwood High School) is where former Saint-Lazare resident Domenic Di Rosa first discovered acting and he has recently landed a role as Toto ‘The Butcher’ Russo, the right-hand man for a criminal syndicate in the crime film Mafia Inc.

Domenic Di Rosa credits his current spate of acting work to the time he spent in high school working with an acting troupe as a teenager where he learned about the basic essentials of his craft.

“I moved out there when I was 10-years-old from east-end Montreal. My mother and grandmother still live in Saint-Lazare. It was great. I always stayed in one school from grade five onwards,” said Di Rosa. His first experience in acting was in the Hudson Elementary School dramatic arts Olympics.

Hudson Drama Coterie

“I got my real passion for acting through the drama program at Hudson High School. I really enjoyed doing it.” Di Rosa was part of the Hudson Drama Coterie that was run by drama teacher Kevin Woodhouse at what is now Westwood High School. That’s where his interest in acting was piqued. “Aside from my father, Kevin was my other mentor who told me, ‘You’ve got something kid. You should continue with it’,” said Di Rosa.

“I did all the high school productions that were available at the time. Kevin directed all of them. We put on three beautiful performances. It was a great experience just seeing the crowd and the reactions from the people to the characters that were displayed by the actors. It was quite something to have been a part of it,” said Di Rosa.

His experience with the drama club helped Di Rosa land his first television role in 1998 as a supporting actor in Big Wolf on Campus on YTV. “That ran three seasons from 1998 until 2001. It was my schooling for television because it was the first time I ever did TV,” he said.

Break from acting

After the series was cancelled, Di Rosa said there was a lull in movie and television production in Montreal which prompted him to retire from acting for about five years to raise his family. He took on other jobs as a security guard and airport baggage handler. “You’ve got to do what you have to do to make ends meet,” he said.

“When you walk away from acting there’s always that void and I said to myself that I have to get back into it or it’ll be gone forever. I told my wife that I really wanted to give it my all now and give it another go and she told me to go for it. When you have support it makes it easier to follow your dreams,” said Di Rosa.

Recent roles

In 2017, Di Rosa landed a role in Letterkenny, a comedy series on Crave TV and Hulu in which he plays the recurring role of Jean-Pierre, a French-Canadian doppelganger for one of the main characters. “It’s a sleeper comedy hit for Canada. It’s a Canadian show that takes place on a farm and focuses on the everyday lives of four people on a farm,” said Di Rosa.

Additionally, he worked on the television mini-series The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair with renowned film director Jean-Jacques Annaud which was partially filmed in Hudson which starred Patrick Dempsey of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fame. Di Rosa also worked on the current movie release of Mafia Inc., playing the role of Donato ‘Toto’ Russo, the right-hand man for a criminal syndicate.

When director Daniel Grou (also known as ‘Podz’) reviewed the audition tape, he immediately knes that Di Rosa was perfect for the character Toto ‘The Butcher’ Russo. Di Rosa’s fluent knowledge of Italian and the Sicilian dialect which he learned as a child also enabled him to work as a consultant on the set. Di Rosa rehearses with the actors and teaches them how to properly pronounce words with a Sicilian accent.

Di Rosa said he’s enjoyed all the different characters he’s played throughout the years and looks forward to more acting opportunities in the near future.

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