Amanda Cordner has quickly become an actor to watch in Canada. With the Nov. 15 season two release of CBC’s Sort Of, Cordner has made an even greater impression. Playing best friend 7ven to Bilal Baig’s Sabi, Cordner shines on screen in the hilarious and heartfelt award-winning TV series.
But when Cordner was a kid growing up in the GTA, she grappled with the question almost every aspiring artist asks themselves – do something practical or follow my passion?
“I was in my first play at age 12. And I was like, wow: ‘What is this life onstage?’” she says. “I used to journal about how I wanted to be an artist.” But Cordner says, even approaching university, she was on the fence about pursuing an art, debating doing something more “practical” like psychology instead.
“It’s funny, my trajectory has been trying to do these things that I thought I should be doing, and then always choosing art,” she says.
As a kid, Cordner tried all kinds of arts, but when she got to St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, she joined the school’s first year of the regional arts program for drama.
“I had an amazing teacher there who challenged us, and I still hold a lot of her teachings in my craft today,” she says.
Cordner then attended York University’s theatre program, and from there, trying to make her way into the world of acting was “slow, steady and consistent,” she says. “I did a lot of indie theatre. I did a ton of student films, just trying to get as much practice as possible.”
It was through those indie theatre experiences that she landed the role on Sort Of — creator and star Baig asked Cordner if she wanted to play 7ven, telling her that Baig wrote the role with her voice in mind.
“Bilal was like, ‘Hey, I’m shooting a pilot, do you want to play my best friend?’ And I was like, ‘Nah, I’m really tired. I feel really burned out,’” Cordner says. “Then I went to bed that night, and I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re crazy. You can’t say no to a pilot!’”
Sort Of, which follows Sabi, an gender-fluid and non-binary South Asian millennial navigating relationships, work and family in Toronto, received three Canadian Screen Awards and a Peabody Award since its debut.
7ven may be a supporting character, but the gender-fluid art curator fills the screen with her big personality in every scene.
“It’s a chance to be an unapologetic clown,” Cordner says of the role. “But especially in season two, she’s someone who is so vulnerable and shields herself with her comedy, and we’re similar in that way.”
Season two is the show’s “season of love,” including for 7ven, which Cordner could not be more excited about. “I love that I get a mom and a partner this season,” she says. “I love love scenes. Actually, the first thing I look for in a script is like, ‘Am I kissing anyone?’”
Currently, Cordner is acting in Young People’s Theatre’s Snow White until Jan. 7, directed by Aurora Browne. Of acting, Cordner says consistency is the only way to do it. “If you want this, do not stop. It will cause a lot of discomfort, but if you love it, it can also be really fulfilling and fun.”