Feral Fungus: A CA Student’s Acting Journey

February 6, 2023 4 min read

Television’s hottest new show is The Last of Us, HBO’s grim take on fungal-infected zombies. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey lead a star-studded cast that leaps from the screen of the popular video game series.

The Last of Us will likely intrigue many Canadians as much of the series was filmed in Alberta. As the series’ stars navigate the post-apocalyptic United States, you may notice several local areas, including Canmore, Edmonton, and Calgary.

Besides locations, the show features local talent, including one of Calgary Academy’s very own: Caleb H! Before getting in front of the camera, Caleb has spent years with CA’s drama program as an actor and student.

A Love of the Arts

Originally from Arizona, Caleb took an interest in acting at a young age, auditioning for roles as early as eight years old. Now in his senior year, Caleb first arrived at Calgary Academy in Grade 9. He didn’t hesitate to choose drama as one of his Integrated Studies courses. In fact, it was one of the reasons Caleb came to CA. He entered the dimly lit theatre on his admissions tour, intrigued by the lights and other tech surrounding him. As he joined CA, he felt inspired by the other passionate actors in the school.

Drama and performing mean more to Caleb than goofing around on stage or taking a class—he sees it as an extension of himself and a way to manage emotions, good and bad.

“Acting is something I need—it’s a way to escape reality. Anything to do with arts and drama grounds me. It sets me up for the day.”

Caleb’s love of performance led him to participate in the 2022 Senior School production of All Shook Up. This passion for acting has followed him into his senior year, where he’s spent time directing in class and preparing for this year’s spring performance as one of the leading cast members.

Caleb has experienced constant development as an actor in his time at CA, something his drama teacher, Leeanne McLim, has noticed. However, Ms. McLim notes that this has come from Caleb himself as his confidence and charisma grow.

“With Caleb, there’s something just so humble about him that makes him a good artist. He’s accepting, he’s appreciative, and he’s giving of himself to other people… He has beautiful skills that come from Caleb growing into himself and his confidence.”  – Ms. McLim

The continuous learning he’s done in his time at CA has helped Caleb find new things to love about performing, including the behind-the-scenes aspects of a stage production.

“I’ve fallen in love with the work everyone puts into production. We did one-act plays in drama this year, and I really felt a connection to the dramatic arts I haven’t felt since my last play.”

The Last of Us

While Caleb’s time acting at Calgary Academy ends this June when he graduates, he hasn’t ruled out a career in the arts, whether as an actor or a production crew member. No matter his choice, Caleb already has a unique addition to his resume: working on HBO’s The Last of Us.

After a 5:30 a.m. pick-up, Caleb spent over 20 hours on set, filming different scenes for the show’s first episode. While some of his scenes were ultimately cut, Caleb is thankful for not only seeing his face on the screen but for the experience of working on a massive-scale production.

Stepping from Calgary Academy’s stage onto a television production is a shift in focus and expectations. Due to the multimillion-dollar production budget, the cast had to work diligently.

There’s little time to feel out a scene or improvise, which Caleb figured out quickly. He offers this advice for new actors getting into extra work: just listen.

“You don’t improvise if you’re an extra on film. You can create a character and try ideas when you’re on the stage, but not for film.”  – Caleb

As Caleb looks to the future, he knows the direction he wants to go. If everything goes right, we may be seeing him on the screen or stage soon. No matter what happens, Caleb looks back at his experience fondly.

“To be a tiny part of this show, I’m so grateful for it.”