Michael Jenkins

From Reading Lines to Crafting Messaging: Actor Michael Jenkins Recasts Himself into Corporate Communications

He wanted to be an actor, but he found a new role that gave him the stability he needed to pursue his creative passions. Michael Jenkins is originally from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan but moved to Toronto a decade ago. When he graduated from high school, he had a lot to consider when choosing a career. Given he was colour-blind, working in the trades like so many of his peers in the prairies was out of the question. Welding, firefighting, law enforcement and electrical work were also out of the question. 

He researched his career options and teaching ended up being something he wasn’t excited to do but broadcasting excited him. After excelling in high school drama he applied and got into Toronto Film School for acting. Once his studies were complete, Jenkins soon realized that the career and lifestyle of an actor was too unpredictable, so he went back to school for communications and public relations. 

Now that he’s graduated, he works with RBC in communications and marketing, and got his start with RBC through their Indigenous Peoples Development Program (IPDP). He chose communications because he always enjoyed client-facing roles when working in bars and restaurants, building relationships every day. Communications, similarly, is based around people and relationships, and it felt like a good fit. 

Working in communications, Jenkins is often the middleman between an organization or brand and others, creating messaging for internal and external audiences in a language mass audiences can understand. In school, he learned to keep language levels appropriate to an 8-year-old because most people aren’t paying close attention but with accessible language, they will get the main idea and hopefully want to learn more.  

His advice for youth who, like him, decide to change career paths, comes from what his mother taught him. “Education will never be a waste. The money… or the time you spend on education, is spent on something that is going to benefit you in one way or another. You're either going to learn something about yourself, or you're going to learn something about the thing that you're most interested in,” he shares. Jenkins urges students to pivot as needed and reassures they will eventually end up where they need to be.  

“I think progressing as an individual is probably one of the most beneficial things that you can do as a human being. Becoming a student in one way or another is a really great way to fast-track that experience and get yourself to that point where you're happy with where you stand,” he continues. 

When it comes to Indigenous people thinking about going into film, Jenkins encourages them to go for it. With the industry looking for Indigenous talent and it being in short supply, there are plenty of opportunities in a range of roles, from background to commercials. All of those opportunities show an ability to work as part of a team and that you have experience, leading to more opportunities and an ability to show people what you can do. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

Making the shift from film to Communications was a bit hard on Jenkins because he felt like he was giving up on a dream. He decided to pursue acting more as a hobby so he could find a career that would sustain him. With the way the industry is structured, there are lots of opportunities to participate more casually and to feed his artist’s soul, he has found passion projects to engage in. Podcasting became an outlet he enjoys and he’s found a way to excel professionally and creatively at last. “You don't need to be one version of yourself. You can be multiple versions of yourself, and just let those versions flourish in different ways at different times,” he explains.  

"You don't need to be one version of yourself. You can be multiple versions of yourself, and just let those versions flourish in different ways at different times"

If he could give his younger self advice it would be to listen to his mom more and to let go of his self-conscious fears. He would tell himself, “No one is thinking about you the same amount that you think that they're thinking about you. Nobody's judging you because they're busy thinking about how people are judging them. So just be yourself. Strive for progression and take chances more if you can.”

To balance his mental health, Jenkins lifts himself up by being creative. He also loves running as a way to disconnect. Given he’s always creating content professionally and personally, he finds when an email comes in, he rushes to get to it. When he’s running, he doesn’t worry about any of that and can just focus on moving his body and be present to the experience. He lets his mind wander to fantasy sometimes when he’s running and the mental escape helps a lot. When he returns from his exercise, he has fresh inspiration for content. 

When he needs inspiration, Jenkins looks to the relationships he’s built. When he’s podcasting, he usually has an idea of where he wants to start with an episode and lets things progress from there, trusting the process to create something special. “I think creatives and artists do like that they benefit a lot from those moments of silence and those moments of being able to sit in their own head and go to that imaginary room in your brain that just silences the world,” he offers.  

While he wanted to be an actor once upon a time,  Michael Jenkins was lucky enough to land a new role that gave him the stability he needed to pursue his creative passions. He didn’t close the curtains forever on his dreams, he’s just decided to write his own script and nurture his artist’s heart differently. Through podcasting and a career in communications, he’s working with a cast of characters he appreciates and using his talents to build new relationships.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

  • 0:00 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
  • 1:11 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
  • 2:22 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
  • 3:33 - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor

Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
  • Province/Territory
  • Date
    April 27, 2024
  • Post Secondary Institutions
    No PSI found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

Similar Chats