Michelle McLeod, a 2013 graduate of Humber College, took over the big screen at the Toronto International Film Festival this year in the starring role in her first major motion picture.

The Canadian film, Don’t Talk to Irene, featuring actress Geena Davis, premiered at TIFF on Sept. 11, 2017. No tickets were left unsold as the inspirational comedy captured the hearts of its audience.

McLeod, who now lives in Etobicoke, attended Humber College’s two year Acting for Film and Television program at the Lakeshore campus from 2011 to 2013. However, she has had a passion for acting ever since she was 11, she said. When McLeod was little she would dance and sing around her house as well as participate in local plays in her home town of Peterborough, Ont. “With community theatre that really gave me the opportunity to do it for real and I was hooked and I knew I had to make this my career,” said McLeod.

McLeod chose Humber because she said she “knew it had a lot of prestige and knew a lot of people had come out of there.” She also said that she doesn’t think she would be as prepared for the film world if she didn’t go to Humber.

A first-year student in the Acting for Film and Television program, Jordan Cole said that he was intrigued by “The fact that is was conservatory training and the credentials that the professors had, it was a really impressive thing to hear about.”

During her time at Humber, McLeod gained inspiration from a lot of individuals, one of those being her professor, Maria Ricossa. Ricossa said what makes Humber’s Acting for Film and Television program stand out from other acting programs in Ontario is that “it focuses strictly on acting for the big screen rather than just for the stage.” The program is also solely taught by professionals in the industry. When hearing about McLeod’s success, Ricossa said it was “unbelievable and exciting” and because it happened so soon after graduating and it was “a classic case of the right part, right timing.”

McLeod said she is “still letting TIFF sink in, it was a crazy experience but I felt for myself, super proud. All the work I’ve done has been for something and it gives me that inspiration to keep going.”