The thought of monsters would be unsettling to most kids – but not to Skyler Wexler of Toronto, who plays Kira in the acclaimed TV series Orphan Black.
“I really like horror stories; I read them a lot. They’re not frightening to me,” Skyler, who turns 10 today, said.
Skyler is building a repertoire in sci-fi roles, setting her apart from other young actresses. Her first major film was 2012’s short The Captured Bird, which played at the Toronto International Film Festival. Described as a darkly poetic fable, it begins with Skyler drawing chalk figures of people on the cement of a playground. An unusual crack in the pavement, which is seeping a mysterious black fluid, captures her interest, and she follows this crack to an ominous building. Inside, she encounters several bizarre phenomena, including walls which bleed black, and tentacles which emerge from the ceiling to touch her. She then witnesses the birth of five terrifying supernatural beings who threaten the existence of her world.
“Skyler was the only human actress acting amongst monsters,” said her mother, Charlene Wexler.
“I got to see how they [monsters] were made. I followed the goo into a house and saw a big puddle in one of the rooms. I sat down and it turned into a monster,” Skyler said with a big laugh.
As a young child, Skyler would watch kids’ programs on TV and ask, why isn’t that me?
“I did what any parent would do: I signed her up for drama and singing lessons,” said Wexler.
A passion for performing on stage and on camera is what makes Skyler happy.
“She loves to sing at family Chanukah and Purim parties. Skyler directs her young cousins whether it is Shabbat prayers or a holiday play they put together.
“Singing, acting, putting on plays, writing her own plays, and creating her own music is what drives Skyler,” said Wexler.
Skyler started acting in commercials for Manulife and Sears, performing in school musicals such as Frozen, Hairspray, and The Wizard of Oz, and singing both the Canadian and American national anthems at the ACC in front of thousands.
Skyler first appeared on the small screen in 2011 in the series Against the Wall. She soon landed roles in Warehouse 13, Alphas, Really Me, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Rewind, We Wanted More, Carrie, and Orphan Black.
With a following of loyal fans, Skyler is best known for her acting role as Kira – the daughter of one of the clones played by Tatiana Maslany – on the TV series Orphan Black, for the last three seasons.
Skyler worked alongside award-winning actress Julianne Moore, who played her mother in the 2013 remake of Carrie, in which Skyler played young Carrie.
Skyler also has a musical bent, and writes her own songs.
“I hear her often as she sits at the piano humming whatever she has created, trying to figure out the chord that matches what she is humming. Once she has put it all together, she puts the words to it and there is her song,” said Wexler
Skyler works with vocal coach Marla Joy for a minimum of two hours a week, and with her piano teacher Mark Feldman for one hour a week.
In her music video The House of The Rising Sun, (available on YouTube) Skyler captured both creativity and imagination through song and character equally, pulling the viewer in and demonstrating her depth and range as an artist.
“My concept for this video came from wanting Skyler’s fans and audience to be able to see the intensity and the passion with which she performs,” Joy says.
Singing for causes such as Sick Kids Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Autism Speaks, Autism Sings and Imagine a Cure for Leukemia, is important to Skyler.
“Skyler brings smiles to kids when she sings,” said Wexler. “She often tells me, ‘Mummy, I can’t believe what my music can do for someone, I didn’t realize.’”
See Skyler singing House of The Rising Sun