Canadian Star Lukas Engel Talks Joey Award-Winning Performance in ‘The Shallow End’

Canadian star Lukas
Canadian star Lukas

Whenever Lukas Engel steps onto a set for the first time, he feels that type of adrenaline rush that only comes when you are doing what you are meant to be doing. At 15, Engel found his calling. This industry leading actor has a resume many can only dream of, with still so much more to give to his craft.

“Acting makes me so happy. I can’t imagine doing a regular 9-5 job. I feel like being a professional actor will continue to lead me to so many opportunities, such as traveling and learning new things. As a professional actor you meet so many new people. Most importantly, I also feel that as a professional actor, I have the ability to be a role model for other young teens. Acting doesn’t feel like work to me. It is pure fun,” he said.

Audiences can recognize Engel from countless celebrated projects. He has voiced leading characters in hit animated series like Paw Patrol, starred in acclaimed shows like Odd Squad and Creeped Out, hosted The Wacky Word Show, which earned him a nomination for Best Young Actor at the Young Entertainer Awards 2020, where he was also nominated for his work on the Netflix original series Hello Ninja, and appeared in Emmy nominated series such as Orphan Black.

One of Engel’s first tastes of international success came when he was only 9 years old. He was selected as a leading role in the 2016 drama The Shallow End. Despite it being earlier in Engel’s career, he delivered such a memorable performance that he ended up winning the Joey Award for Best Young Actor in a Short Film Age 7-9.

“I was honored to win the award for Best Actor in this film. It meant all my hard work had paid off. It is always satisfying to see your hard work rewarded,” said Engel.

The Shallow End tells the true story of a swim instructor suffering from PTSD. He has a difficult time recovering from an incident, where one of his students, Gabriel, played by Engel, almost drowns on his watch. Audiences loved Engel’s performance, with many praising his attention to detail and grounded character work, and he greatly impressed his fellow cast and the crew.

“Lukas is very communicative and inquisitive while working collaboratively. He prepares well for his character, while offering room for experimentation while on set. He is an effective listener and takes direction well, while offering his own insights into the strengths and weaknesses of his character. Lukas isn’t afraid to try new approaches in developing his character, which is why I loved working with him, because a story can change in so many ways. He wasn’t intimidated by the fast-paced environment – rather, he welcomed it,” said Director Eric Bizzarri.

Having such a pivotal role in the film was a major task for a young Engel, but he was committed to his performance and ignored the pressures. He was consistently consulting with Bizzarri over the direction of the character, ensuring to play the role as the director saw it. He made sure to know and understand the story the script was based off of and the director’s vision, and fused the two into a stunning portrayal of Gabriel, a sweet child who loves to swim and has a connection with his swim coach.

“I really enjoyed that I was given a lot of background about the story and my character. It taught me so much about acting and gave me the opportunity to really get into the role. I loved working with the director, and also really enjoyed being able to swim on set,” said Engel.

The Shallow End premiered in 2016 in Toronto. The film won many awards outside of Engel’s Joey Award, including the Award of Distinction at the 2017 Canada Shorts Film Festival. Engel is still proud to have such a profound impact on the success of the film, and looks back at the experience fondly, noting it was the project that truly made him fall in love with acting. 

“I think this story is so important to tell to raise awareness about mental health, and PTSD. This way those suffering with these issues know they are not alone and will hopefully seek help,” he concluded.

Photo by David Leyes