My Vancouver – Then & Now: Jason Priestley

Jason Priestley, Photo Credit: Manfred Baumann

Jason Priestley, Photo Credit: Manfred Baumann

My Vancouver – Then & Now Series

As one of the most desirable cities in the world in which to live, Vancouver has played a pivotal role in the destinies of many athletes, performers and creative minds. Whether as a stepping stone at the beginning of their long careers (Academy Award –winner Jim Erickson); a safe harbour for immigrants to start again (Prima Ballerina, Chan Hon Goh ) or reaching the pinnacle of their life’s work here ( NHL’s ‘Captain Canuck’, Trevor Linden, ) the celebrated personalities of this new Inside Vancouver Series by Laura Goldstein, all have one thing in common: MY VANCOUVER THEN & NOW is immeasurably in their hearts.


“Never become complacent- always challenge yourself ,” emphasizes Jason Priestley, who will be penning a memoir published by HarperCollins under its HarperOne imprint hitting bookstores next spring.

Priestley could have let his role as teen heartthrob Brandon Walsh, in the ‘90s hit TV series Beverly Hills 90210, lead him by the coattails indefinitely. Instead, the handsome 44-year -old with many diverse interests, chose to diversify his talents as a director, producer, stage actor and entrepreneur- often away from Hollywood’s incessant scrutiny.

Vancouver-born Priestley “Started in the business at 5 years old. My mom, Sharon Kirk, was an actress and acting coach. Film and TV in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Canada was still pretty small but I took everything I could get into from commercials to CBC- TV series including one episode (shot in Vancouver) of Danger Bay, ” he laughs. Priestley made his feature film debut in 1986 in The Boy Who Could Fly, also shot in B.C.

After graduating from Argyle Secondary School in North Vancouver “ I moved to LA as fast as I could, getting roles on Airwolf, 21 Jump Street, Sister Kate and in 1990, Beverly Hills 90210.” The directing bug hit early: readers may be surprised to learn that Priestley directed 19 episodes of the popular series over it’s 10 -season run and that would provide the stepping stone for many future directing projects.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the band Barenaked Ladies – huge in Canada but not in the U.S. initially,” explains Priestley. “While living in California, I really wanted to help them and in 1998 I got in touch with them with the idea to direct a documentary Barenaked In America, while on tour. Front man Ed Robertson cites that as instrumental in their U.S. success. Later I directed their music video for their hit song, The Old Apartment.

Priestley recently wrapped principal photography on his feature film directorial debut, Cas & Dylan starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany and finished his 4th season for Call Me Fitz for HBO Canada in which he stars, produces and directs.

A former racing car driver, Priestley was seriously injured in 1999 during a practice run at the Kentucky Speedway when his Indy Pro Series Car crashed into a wall at speeds of 180 miles per hour). Always challenged by the spontaneity of live theatre, he starred this year in the Canadian Stage premiere of David Mamet’s Race in Toronto. A serious wine collector, Priestley is directing and hosting the 3rd season of Hollywood & Vines, a celebrity wine series for the Travel Channel, with Vancouver pal, Terry David Mulligan.

“ I love visiting Vancouver to see my friends,” says Priestley, married for eight years to make-up artist Naomi Lowde-Priestley, they have a six-year-old daughter Ava and four-year-old son Dashiell.

“I never leave town without eating at Vij’s- in my mind it’s the finest East Indian food in North America!”

 

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