PS - December 2013

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R E M A R K A B L E T E ACH E R SCHOOL TIES Suits star Patrick J. Adams honours the high school drama teacher who counselled him toward a successful career in acting. BY RICHARD OUZOUNIAN PHOTO: © NBC UNIVERSAL, INC., ROBERT ASCROFT/USA NETWORK T he room erupts into applause as Patrick J. Adams approaches the podium to accept an Honorary Life Membership to the University College Dublin Law Society. The prestigious club had previously bestowed this tribute on the likes of Noam Chomsky and Bill Clinton, and was now honouring the 32-year-old Torontonian, or as the society's auditor introduces him, "The man who made lawyers sexy again." While it's obvious that the crowd agrees with the description, the truth is Adams isn't a lawyer. Far from it. He just plays one on TV. The character that Adams portrays on the hit series Suits is Mike Ross — a drug-dealing, LSAT-cheating college dropout. After stumbling into a job interview he's not qualified for, Ross's photographic memory helps land him the position of high-powered lawyer Harvey Specter's right-hand man. The show feeds off of Ross and Specter's relationship; they play to each other's strengths and weaknesses. While Ross is street-smart, Specter is booksavvy, but together they're unbeatable. "We play a lot of that relationship up for comedic purposes but there's a serious message at the core," says Adams. "Never underestimate the power of a mentor. You have to find someone who can inspire and encourage you." He's been lucky. Not only is Adams acting out the perfect mentor/pupil dynamic but he also had the chance to experience the real deal early on in life — someone who provided him with the necessary tools to carve out the kind of successful career he has today. Deborah Barton-Moore was that person. She taught drama at Northern SS for 20 years, was department head for much of that time and worked directly with Adams from Grades 10 to 13. Adams knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor and made the life-changing decision to commit as he entered high school. "My family was moving back to the Beaches and everyone assumed that I'd go to school there; but I'd heard about the courses at Northern Secondary so I decided to check them out." The wannabe thespian was impressed with the school's performance space and the real works of dramatic literature they put on. Adams was sold. "Even though it meant that I would have to commute an hour and a half every day, I knew it was where I had to be." December 2013 | Professionally Speaking 33

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