TRURO – Cory Bowles readily admits that as a young man, he took advantage of “the system.” Unbeknownst to him, however, the system wanted it that way.
Bowles, speaking in Truro this week during Black History Month, said he educated himself on the opportunities that were made available to minorities and then made certain to cash in on them.
“Going into university I learned how to make the system work for me as a racial student,” Bowles said prior to a film screening and presentation at the Truro library. “I learned where the bursaries were, I learned where the opportunities were and I basically took advantage of those systems as much as I could.
“But that’s what it’s there for. What I thought I was taking advantage of was actually there for me to take advantage of when I understood it later.”
Those same opportunities still exist today, said Bowles, and he encourages young people to explore them as they embark upon careers.
“There are really a whole lot of opportunities, but I think the biggest challenge is getting the word out there,” he said.
“There’s a lot of support there – there’s bursaries for young people … there’s a lot to take advantage of.”
Bowles, a director, actor, dancer, musician and teacher, who is best known for his role as ‘Cory’ on Trailer Park Boys, grew up in Bible Hill and now calls Halifax home.
During this week’s presentation to a crowd of more than 60, he showed short films he wrote and directed – Heart of Rhyme and Anatomy of Assistance – and also spoke about growing up in Truro, his career in the arts and challenges he and other minorities face in the industry.
“There’s opportunities for artists of minority or under representation in the arts, but it can be hard,” he said. “It’s unbelievably hard for a lot of groups – women, black, aboriginal, even being male in dance.
“It was tough, especially when you have to go it alone, but I also took that and turned it into something. My focus became black dance, my focus became black music, my focus became black history and stories and black art forms, so my travels became about going to Africa or going to Brazil and learning the things I was interested in from the roots. It became a niche for me.”
Bowles welcomed the opportunity to return home this week and was greeted with many hugs from family and friends prior to his presentation. He said the support he received from the people of the Hubtown paved the way for success at a higher level.
“Coming back home is always important to me,” said Bowles, 40. “I’m like, ‘Truro, Truro, Truro’ wherever I go and it’s always been really close to me. I was very supported here as a student and I was told that whatever I did, I could do and it was possible. I never thought I would do anything different than all the things I’m doing now. It’s always good to come back and let (people) see what I’m doing.”
Bowles, who has family living in the Truro area, returned home last summer to direct and act in Season 8 of the Trailer Park Boys.
Much of the series was shot in the same trailer park in Bible Hill where Bowles grew up, making the production even more special.
“It was cool, to me it was right,” he said. “And to most of the people that are still there in that trailer park, to them, that’s where it should be anyway because they know as well as I do that it’s pretty much based on that place.
“We had a reputation of trailer parks in the first few seasons of not wanting us to be there because it was too much after a summer, but I was really proud and selfishly happy because my trailer park was like, ‘we got this.’ They treated everybody so well and they were treated well and I think now it’s a permanent set, so it was great.”
Bowles has a hectic schedule in the coming weeks. In addition to teaching theatre at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que., he is working on three feature films and a television show. In April, he is off to New York to direct a version of Hamlet.
– Age 40
– Director, actor, dancer, musician, teacher who grew up in Bible Hill and now splits his time between Halifax, Quebec and Toronto.
– Got his start in the entertainment industry as a member of 1990s hip hop group Hip Club Groove.
– Best known for his role as Cory on Trailer Park Boys.
– His latest film, Anatomy of Assistance, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2013.
– Theatre instructor at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que.
– Arts Nova Scotia board member.