Feature Story

From Mount A to the Main Stage

Tricia Black ('09) on her career in the entertainment industry
By: Renée Belliveau ('17)

From the start, Tricia Black’s ambition was clear.

“I’ve always known I wanted this career. That I wanted to act, to be in films, and TV, to direct — I wanted to do it all,” says the award-winning actor, writer, and comedian.

Nevertheless, her path was far from linear. Coming to Mount Allison from Quispamsis, NB, Black took advantage of the flexible degree options to explore her diverse interests.

“I did theatre, history, and music, because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do,” she says.

But it was beyond the classroom that her trajectory began to take shape. Black’s engagement in extracurricular activities played a pivotal role in her eventual success. She was a member and President of the Garnet and Gold Society and ran Black Tie Productions, a former musical theatre society that focused on smaller productions.

She was also a member of the inaugural cast of Presents the Improv, started by her friend Justin Colette (’08), who has gone on to perform on Broadway and is currently part of the National Touring Cast for Beetlejuice. Black also worked at Live Bait Theatre and at McSweeney’s Dinner Theatre in Moncton, NB.

“Running two theatres, learning how to make a budget, how to get a grant — I had a great education, but it was the stuff I learned outside of the classroom that really shaped my career.”

For Black, Sackville was the ideal place to try new things.

“It's such a small community, but there’s so much to do,” she says. “The community is super supportive of students and there are so many ways to get involved. That’s what helps you grow as a person, and I think that’s why my time at Mount A was so memorable and impactful.”

After graduation, Black and Collette moved to Chicago to study at the renowned Second City — an improvisational comedy institution that has nurtured some of the world’s best-known comedians, including Canadian icons Eugene Levy, Martin Short, and Catherine O’Hara.

“It was an incredible experience,” she says, noting how they immersed themselves in Chicago’s vibrant comedy scene to learn as much as they could from watching others on stage. “It was the best comedy education possible.”

After a brief stint back in Sackville, Black finally settled in Toronto.

Tricia Black and Clare McConnell at Second City Toronto

Since, she has worked as a writer, actor, and cast member at Second City Toronto, tried her hand at musical comedy, and had supporting roles in shows like Kim’s Convenience, Baroness von Sketch Show, Pretty Hard Cases, and What We Do in the Shadows. She also serves as Creative Director of the Tweed & Company Theatre.

In short, she has done a bit of everything.

“I think it makes you a stronger performer if you can learn any and all aspects of the industry,” she says.

Black now boasts four Canadian Screen Award nominations, with two wins for Best Supporting Performance in a Web Program or Series for her work on Band Ladies and for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series for Summer Memories.

She admits her success wasn’t effortless.

“It was a lot of work and working a lot of jobs, sometimes three at a time,” she says. “But if you really want to be in this industry, you need to have the drive and the energy, because it’s tough.”

And yet, she can’t imagine doing anything else and looks forward to seeing where her career takes her next.

“My goal is to get something made that is in my voice,” Black says. “I feel like there aren’t a lot of people who look like me, or who have had the same experiences as me, being represented in film and TV, so in that respect, it’s important for me to put my voice out there so that a kid like me in New Brunswick can see me and go, ‘Oh wow! You can make it!’”