A graduate of the Algonquin theatre arts program was recently cast on the CW’s hit show Arrow.
Yanik Ethier, who graduated from Algonquin in 2003, portrayed the character of Malcolm Byrd, a French chemical weapons dealer who moonlights as the villainous Javelin. Ethier briefly appeared in episode five of Arrow’s seventh season, sharing a scene with one of the show’s protagonists.
“For Arrow alone, I must have auditioned at least 12 times,” Ethier laughed. “I think I got the edge because the character called for a French accent and the casting directors must like me.”
Before landing the gig, Ethier went through a long string of rejections that is all too common for actors: his three years in Vancouver led to close to 80 auditions and zero bookings. While he is unsure if his character will appear in future episodes, the credits of the episode heavily imply he will return.
“They put Javelin in the credits, so I’m not just Malcolm Byrd and there’s no mention of the Javelin character in the episode,” said Ethier. “It kind of looks like they’re teasing the fans, and I’m wide available for whatever.”
Ethier began his acting career at Algonquin in the early 2000s. Raised in Cochrane, Ontario and disillusioned by the high school education system, Ethier dropped out in his final year with no real plan for the future. It was a conversation with a guidance counsellor that led him to pursue his creative ambitions at Algonquin’s theatre program.
“I got really frustrated at the fact that we weren’t learning anything new. I wanted to be creative, I wanted to be innovative and to express myself,” said Ethier. “I felt I needed to study something, so I had a chat with my high school counsellor. I didn’t want to go to school for another two years, never mind another four or even seven years, to take an exam on one book and apply it to a test. [My counsellor] suggested acting to me and I gave it a shot at Algonquin, which is where I found my passion.”
After Algonquin he moved to Montreal where he waited tables and worked long hours with little real success. Feeling stuck, he moved to Vancouver in September of 2015, in need of “some mountains and some sea” in his life. It was there that he got an agent and began auditioning for shows, primarily the CW shows Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, the Flash and, of course, Arrow.
For Algonquin students struggling to make their way in life, Ethier preaches the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.
“It’s you versus you, man. Get out of your own way. Get rid of your expectations because the real education begins when you leave Algonquin. For me, being an actor or an artist of any kind is truly a journey in self-discovery,” said Ethier. “The only person that is on this journey called life with you, from beginning to end, is yourself. Find out who that person is, what they want, what speaks to them.”