Finding "Cora" - Casting Announcement

We are incredibly excited that after a very long search, we have cast Jovanna Burke as "Cora", our main character in the movie.

Jovanna Burke grew up in Vancouver, BC, spending most of her life training in dance, theatre, voice and film.

Jovanna attended high-school at Walnut Hill in Natick, MA, which led to her first job, as an apprentice in a major dance company.

Following this, Jovanna spent 6 years in New York pursuing dance and theatre, after which she returned to Vancouver to study film and television.

Jovanna has gone on to guest star on numerous television shows (including Supernatural, Smallville, Fringe, Psych, Mr. Young and Package Deal), feature films, short films, web series and Movies of the Week.

In 2014, Jovanna and her team won a Leo Award and were nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for their work on their series: The True Heroines.

In 2015, Jovanna was nominated for a Leo Award for her performance in the short film: The Trap.​

We had some amazing candidates for the role. In the end, Jovanna had it all, and we are excited to work with Jovanna to bring Cora and 13 Miles to the big screen.​

You can learn more about Jovanna from her IMDB Page​, but we asked Jovanna to tell us in her words, starting with her career, and why she wanted to play the role of Cora in 13 Miles:

Beginnings

Born in Edmonton and raised in Vancouver, I spent my childhood playing dress-up and creating characters. Since then I’ve done many things: graduated from school, held jobs, made movies, filed taxes, traveled the world, met my true love, birthed two children. But I always seem to find myself back in the playroom with my dress-up clothes and my stories.

My parents have been storytellers for longer than I can remember. Mom read me bedtime stories every night, long before, and after, I learned to read them for myself. Dad is the master of hyperbole and metaphor.

I co-wrote and starred in my first play, `Gags Life’ in 1986, about a girl who magically and tragically lives in a tent with her mother Moisa on Campground 6 with the rest of her tragic extended family. The show was produced by and performed in the dining room of my family home, and ran every day for a staggering year straight. I was six years old.

Education

I followed my passion for storytelling to Walnut Hill Performing Arts High School as dance major, and in my junior year, landed my first professional gig. After dabbling in the world of dance publicity upon moving to NYC, I continued my education in theatre and then back home to Vancouver Film School, where I was afforded the opportunity to broaden my horizons and hone my skills. I studied acting, collaborative theatre, writing and film–making, among many other things.

What is it about Cora's character do you relate with?
There are many aspects of Cora's character that I can relate to...it is easy to find parallels with her, which is definitely a huge part of her appeal. If I listed everything I would be here for an hour...BUT the theme that resonates with me is her need to prove to herself (and to everyone else) that she is capable of taking on new challenges and succeeding. In her case this challenge is a triathlon, not exactly something most people can just jump into without training. Cora is resilient and strong, traits that I feel are also a part of who I am, and something I can blend into CORA really seamlessly.

What is it about Cora's character do you think resonates most with people?
I think it is her attitude, her perseverance, and the inner strength she exhibits to overcome both personal and physical challenges and find success. In Cora's case it is through the sport of triathlon that she finds out who she really is. But I feel like people will be able to relate this to any endeavor - it is a story about finding your own journey and never giving up. 

What attracted you to Cora?
I think my initial attraction was to the subject matter. I have always admired the perseverance and commitment of triathletes. But as I read the audition sides I began to connect to her story, as I was able to see many parallels to my own life. For example, my husband was a triathlete when I first met him (he was training to do his first IRONMAN) and I was always the spectator.

I was there in the early mornings helping him set up his gear for transitions. I was there afterwards when he was taking ice baths and his feet looked like hell. I saw all of those things and understand what that feels like from a spectator/cheerleader’s point of view. I also innately understand the kind of commitment it takes to be a triathlete, even though I never pursued it myself.

What I love about Cora is that she just goes for it and for me, Jovanna, that is something I never really thought I could do. I’m sure that Cora felt the same way. So for me, Cora becomes the person that I never really thought I could be, which is really exciting.

Have you done a triathlon before?
No! As I said, my husband was the triathlete and I was always the spectator. So this is all very exciting and new for me.

What types of things are you doing to prepare you for this role?
Well I have been trying to start a triathlete-training program so that I can feel the pain and thrill that Cora feels as she takes on this journey. I was a professional dancer so my training was always very different than that of a triathlete. I am currently trying to blend a few different things in so that it doesn't feel so foreign. I am doing spin class 2-3x a week, running and doing Pilates. I am starting my swim training next week. This mama is getting into some serious shape!

What running shoes are you training in?
Nike Free 5.0

What bike are you training on?
The spin bike.

What is the most challenging aspect of a triathlon for you?
Honestly it is getting through the three disciplines on the same day. I can probably push myself to one of these things in a day...but all three...in one day?! That is a serious accoplishment and I am in awe of those that can.

What do you love most about being an actor?
What a loaded question! There is so much I love about the process of acting. That is really hard to pinpoint for me, because I am a total nerd when it comes to breaking down story and script...But I think the part I love the most about being an actor is finding the bits and pieces of a character that I can relate to and putting together the puzzle between the character and me. I look to animals to find distinctive ways of moving as a character because coming from a dance background (as my coach always says) it is hard to let go of the dancer's postures. So for every new character I find the animal that embodies her. I love finding the way a character walks through "animal work". I love putting on a character's shoes or the first time and going outside for a walk as that character. Interacting with the public as a character and not Jovanna is something I do all the time, and it's always interesting to see how people react to me. I love it.

List 5 fun facts about yourself.
1) I am a mom and I love it! I have 2 kids and my four year old is the boss of me.
2) I'm terrified of spiders.
3) I left home for a performing arts boarding school in the United States in order to pursue my ballet career on my 15th birthday.
4) Spanish was my first language - my Mom is from Lima, Peru.
5) Besides Vancouver, Paris is my favourite city in the world.

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