Open Heart is the new family mystery series that just premiered on YTV (and TeenNick in the U.S.) starring Toronto actor Mena Massoud.
The series follows the story of a rebellious daughter from a fractured family of doctors who uses her time as a hospital volunteer to secretly investigate the disappearance of her father. Mena plays Jarek Malik who is a snarky and upfront head of the Youth Volunteer Program. The show is from the producers of the award-winning television series Degrassi.
Mena’s credits include his roles in television series including Global’s Combat Hospital, Showcase’s King, The 99, and more. You will also find Mena in the short film Master of None, a comedy heist film created by some of Toronto’s most talented young and upcoming filmmakers. But back to his work on Open Heart! We had a chance to check in with Mena about this new show!
Tell us about your character on the new show Open Heart.
Jared is the head of the volunteer program at Open Heart Memorial Hospital. He’s very passionate about his position there and he’s excellent at his job, but sometimes he doesn’t know how to express things as nicely as he should. Other people see him as a little bit of a jerk, but as you get to know him I think you really warm up to him and understand his nature.
What did you have to do to prepare for this role that may be different from your other roles?
This is the longest amount of time I’ve spent with a character on a television role so the process was much more elaborate. In the preliminary stages of the work, I had to learn about him through the script and through discussions with our directors and our writers. As we started to shoot I learned about him through the other characters that I got to act with. Simply living in his skin was a huge experience for me as well because I actually had time to do that. I had time to learn about him by just being, which in this business is not always a luxury you have.
Open Heart is from the creators of Degrassi, how exciting is THAT?
It is very exciting. I’m very glad I had the pleasure of working with Epitome Productions. They are a huge part of the industry in Canada and an outstanding example. Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn are incredibly generous people and they are the best at what they do.
What are you hoping will come out of this new role for you?
I hope people watch the show, fall in love with it and grow to really like Jared because I think he’s an awesome guy with a lot to offer.
So, tell us… why you chose to become an actor?
I tried a lot of things in school and worked really hard at them and it didn’t feel right in the end. It wasn’t that I had a closed mind or didn’t give it my all, I just wasn’t happy. I decided I wanted to try to make my passion my career.
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Too many people. I go through phases of admiring different artists for different reasons. I go to the theatre in Toronto and I’m blown away by the live performances, I turn on Netflix and there’s all sorts of hidden gems, but the people I admire most are my friends. They’re the people scraping away, trying to make a living doing what they love.
What’s the most fun thing about being on TV?
The most fun thing about being on TV is being a part of the making of it. Acting, for me, is the best thing I could imagine myself doing and for it to be my job is an absolute blessing.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever had to do on TV?
Watch the show and you’ll know. It’s something that happens to Jared in the fifth or sixth episode. It’s a physical ailment.
Who would you totally go FANBOY on?
The late Robin Williams.
What are some of your favourite TV Shows?
Breaking Bad. True Detective. House of Cards.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love horses. I love the freedom I feel when I’m on a horse. I don’t think anything else relaxes me just as much.
What do you really, really, really want people to know about you?
I really don’t know. If something’s really intriguing you about me shoot me a tweet and I’ll answer it. @MenaMassoud
The best piece of advice your parents have given you?
If you set your mind to something and deep down inside, in the depths of your being want it more than anything, you will persevere.
Here’s the trailer…Open Heart airs on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm EST on YTV and TeenNick.