Michael Kinney came out of Ryerson U with the moniker “most outstanding graduate of his class” slapped on him. “You could say, I was a bit cocky.” Working with the producer on
his first series, Waste Not!, made him “painfully aware of how much I really DIDN’T know about making television. He tore me down every chance he got, shot holes through my reasoning. It was a very painful experience a lot of the time. I thought of quitting on a number of occasions.”
Michael made a decision then which would carry through his whole career. He checked his ego at the door, and opened himself to learning as much as possible. “In the end, the criticism and honesty made me a better writer and storyteller,” he says.
I wish all those young starlets, who’ve had fame suddenly thrust on them, would heed Michael’s advice. This is a very fickle business and you may be white hot today, but tomorrow you’ll just as likely be waiting tables.
There’s a prevailing attitude, especially in the children of the Boomer generation, that you don’t have to earn or work for anything; that success and fortune should just be handed to you on a platter. So Michael’s is an invaluable lesson for the legions of Degrassi fans who know him best as the affable Coach Armstrong.
Now gearing up for its 11th season, Michael says he’s learned that “being a role model when the camera is NOT rolling is as, or more important than playing a role model when the camera is.“
I ask him if, when the time comes, he would encourage or dissuade his daughters from going into the biz. “I will encourage my girls to pursue their passion and discover and nurture their God-given talents, be it ballet or mechanical engineering. But I’ll also encourage them to explore as many different ways to employ those talents as they can. It’s important to have a Plan B, and C… You need to be creative AND resourceful.”
But he says it is cool when his kids see him on screen and yell: “Look! There’s Daddy on the TV!”
“With me family comes first. There have been occasions when I’ve turned down work because we couldn’t make appropriate arrangements for child care.
You can be gone for long stretches of time, filming on set into the wee hours of the morning. The unpredictability can be challenging when you’re raising young children who depend on a routine. I’m fortunate in that my wife is in the same business. She appreciates the challenges involved. We’ve learned how to cover each other, and the needs of the family when it comes to work. We also have great support from immediate family members.
The best thing about being a dad in the biz is that I get to pursue my passions; and the joy and enthusiasm that comes with that rubs off on my kids.”
When I find out that he & his wife Patty have yet to do a show together, I suggest a McCaig production circa summer 2012. He laughs amiably and says “we’ll see.” I hope he didn’t think I was joking…
If you want to catch up with what he’s doing, be it acting, directing, producing or parenting, you can follow him on Twitter (@MichaelKinney) and on Facebook.