Daren Herbert brings Bermuda flavour - and flag - to Toronto sitcom
A popular Canadian television show has been given an island flavour by Bermudian actor Daren Herbert.
Mr Herbert – who appeared in last year’s season finale of the award-winning show Kim’s Convenience – returned to the programme this month as it launched its fifth season on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Toronto-based actor plays the role of Kwami – a rare Bermudian character in international TV.
Mr Herbert said: “I loved getting to bring a Bermudian character to life on screen.
“I brought as much of me and my Bermudian family and friends to the role as I could – I'm talking about our expressions, our cadence, family photos in Kwami's office,
“I even tried to sneak a can of ginger beer into an episode.”
Mr Herbert said he had been a fan of Kim’s Convenience – a comedy about the lives of a Korean-Canadian family who run a convenience store in Toronto – before he landed the audition.
He said: “I love that it's a Canadian series, intentionally telling the story of Canadians who are not white and I love that my family live in Regent Park where the show is set.
“The real store is just a few blocks west of where we reside and the studio, where we filmed this season, was so close that I walked to and from work. It’s a dream come true.”
He said the show started as a stage play with the Soulpepper Theatre Company and that he had read for a part in a touring production several years ago.
Mr Herbert said: “The director of the original play, Weyni Mengesha, is now the artistic director of that theatre company and the writer of both the play and the TV series, Ins Choi, remembered me from way back then.
“I'm privileged to count them among my collaborators and friends.”
He said when he auditioned for the role of Kwami, the character breakdown said he was a Black man with either a British or island accent, so when he auditioned he used his Bermudian accent.
Mr Herbert added: “I also brought my best Nevisian accent – my dad's parents, James and Amelia Herbert, hailed from Nevis – but I saw my Canadian cousin, Ryan Allen, in the audition waiting room and I knew he would kill that one.
“My fellow Bermudian actor, Danya Nearon, was there too and we were talking up a storm before I went in, which helped me stay grounded, culturally and linguistically.”
The character was introduced in the final episode of the show’s fourth season, as the new roommate of one of the show’s main characters.
The character returned in the first episode of the show’s fifth season, which premiered on January 19, with the character revealed to be the head of a social justice programme in Toronto.
With more screentime. Mr Herbert was able to show more of the character’s Bermudian side – including a Bermuda flag in the character’s office.
He said filming in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic had been stressful but fun.
Mr Herbert said: “I worked on two television series from mid-September through December of last year and Covid made life on set a completely different experience than years past.
“Masks, face shields, goggles, hand sanitising stations, was tricky. The cast were the only people allowed to be unmasked and only when shooting - that ’up-the-nose’ test was a weekly occurrence for me and I was grateful for it.
“Some series experienced shutdowns as a result of positive test results, but we got both my shows completed before Christmas.”
He added: “Many thanks to everyone for wearing masks and working hard to keep each other safe – there are many folks in cities around the world, right now, who are not as blessed as we are here.”
Mr Herbert said the second show he filmed, Pretty Hard Cases, is scheduled to air next month on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He added: “I'm still auditioning via self-tapes, I'm still hard at work with my colleagues at Gracemoon Arts/LS & Co. Studios via Zoom and I'm still participating in script readings with folks back in Toronto.
“I love what I do and I'm covered in the support of family and friends here. I'm working on opening up and sharing more of that love with the people around me.”
Mr Herbert also added his voice to calls for anyone with information on missing woman Chavelle Dillon-Burgess to come forward.
Kim’s Convenience airs on CBC at 9pm on Tuesdays.