When someone thinks about the medical world and Hollywood, most would assume that the combo fits well for TV, but to implement both in real life, that seems ludicrous. However, for Chloe Van Landschoot (she/they), Hollywood and the medical world go hand in hand.
“I knew deep down that doing both was possible. Doing both was what made me the type of artist that I am,” said Van Landschoot.
As we talk through Zoom, thousands of miles apart, her free-spirited energy radiates from the screen. The Canadian actor had always been a performer at heart, using dance and work in short films as a creative outlet, but it was never seen as a viable option for a career. Nursing, however, did take the spot. Van Landschoot entered nursing school and found her interests in science put to good use.
While Landschoot found her footing in nursing, she learned that, as a deeply sensitive person, she needed to take certain precautions within her work. Ultimately, working 10-12 hour shifts within the hospital, she started to see everything and anything that would show up on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
“I started to learn that part of my coping mechanism for taking all of that in was [making] everything a weird little dance routine in my head or a film. I would dissociate and start to see it all as a dance, or I was like, ‘How am I going to turn this into a film?’”, said Van Landschoot. “Probably not super safe for the patient, but I’d catch myself out of it. But I started to realize what was happening and I was like, ‘These two things are feeding each other.’ But also as a nurse, you kind of have to turn so much of your feelings off in a specific way that you’re still present with your patient.”
But the marriage of both of their passions came to a crossroads when she was given the opportunity to act in a film. Naysayers at her job didn’t believe this was the path for her, but Van Landschoot was determined to prove them wrong. Having just finished nursing school and three months into her first nursing role, Van Landschoot quit her job, ended a relationship, and flew to Cuba to film her first acting role post-graduation.
While experience added to her acting portfolio, Van Lanschoot returned to Toronto without another job lined up, no partner, and no ability to land a nursing position due to leaving her first nursing job three months into it. They turned to serving to pay for acting classes and life in Toronto, until they landed another nursing role.
Being back in Toronto with a new nursing job and acting classes, Van Landschoot had the opportunity to connect with her queerness.
“It just gave me some stability and foundation that I needed in order to keep figuring out the things I wanted to do and the stories that I wanted to tell. And during that time, I really came into who I was as queer,” said Van Landschoot. “I came out finally, and that was a whole journey as well, but it was all of those experiences that led to that.”
But life became more hectic when the pandemic hit in 2020. Van Landschoot was juggling acting classes, completing auditions, working 12 hour days during the height of a global crisis, and losing bits of herself in the process. The dream of acting full-time seemed further away, until they received an audition for the role of Kristi in the Epix series FROM.
FROM, starring Harold Perrineau, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Eion Bailey, David Alpay, Shaun Majumder, and Van Landschoot, is about a group of people trapped in a nightmarish town that is also plagued by nocturnal creatures in the town’s surrounding forest. The residents strive to find a way out of the town, while unearthing the secrets within it.
A terrifying plot, but an amazing acting experience for Van Landschoot. Her professional background as a nurse married again with her passion for acting, as her character Kristi is a medical student within the series. Van Landschoot was Kristi and Kristi was Van Landschoot. That became even more cemented when Van Landschoot influenced one of the writers and directors of the show to make her character queer, prior to shooting.
“It’s my whole world externalized. I was super grateful for that opportunity. And then I got to have Kristi be queer. They originally had her married to a dude. But they had hired me, who’s a healthcare worker and also an actor, and I am queer. Therefore, I feel like I was already bringing so much of who I was. I couldn’t leave that part of who I am behind,” said Van Landschoot. “I was like, ‘Kristi’s queer. She’s got a lady fiancée at home.’ And they’re like, ‘We love this. It’s amazing.’ I was like, ‘Oh, my god. This is why I love art. I love creating, especially when it’s received in a collaborative way.’ It’s amazing when you can just show up and be all of you and continue to learn about who that is.”
FROM’s first season received positive reviews and garnered two Saturn Award nominations. Now entering its second season, new storylines and character developments are afoot. Van Landschoot alluded to her character Kristi entering a new phase for season two. While we get bits and pieces of who Kristi is, season two seems to add more to her narrative.
“We see little leaks here and there in season one, but in the end of season one, we really start to see a bit of her vulnerability and her questioning how to move forward, which is super interesting,” said Van Landschoot. “Then, we pick up, in season two, where we left off with that. There’s a big interruption that happens that shakes Kristi to her core and she starts to question a lot in a way that we just haven’t seen from her in season one.”
But Van Landschoot’s passion for a creative outlet continues to extend beyond what’s in their orbit. During downtime from filming From, Van Landschoot shot a short film called Tidal. As art imitates life, the film follows the story of a bedside nurse experiencing workplace trauma and the relentlessness of the profession.
The catch within the film, it’s told only through choreographed movement. At the time, Van Landschoot didn’t have access to a sound person, but she and her friend, fellow actor Niamh Wilson, created the film’s language through instincts and movement. It all paid off, as the film received Best International Short at the Manchester Film Festival.
Now, Van Landschoot’s creative outlets are boundless. While waiting for FROM season three updates, she filmed another short, this time with her FROM castmate Scott McCord. The film focuses on the lead up to a father meeting his biological child for the first time after 21 years of estrangement. Her enthusiasm around her project with McCord is comparable to her excitement around her recent trip to Belgium.
Her father’s side hails from the country and Van Landschoot found inspiration for another film from stories about her grandfather and great-grandfather being village coffin makers. The potential behind this Tim Burton-esque film idea lights up in Van Landschoot’s eyes.
“When you create without expectation or outcome, there’s a lot of surprise and discovery that happens,” said Van Landschoot.
For Van Landschoot, creativity springs from everywhere. Art is in her blood and performing keeps her alive. Her days of helping others in hospitals may be behind her, but through art, she can now create connection and healing through the stories she tells on-screen.