Meet Gina Patricio
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
A little bit of celebrity in the hood.
Gina, a former political media and communication specialist, is a talent agent and owner of MGA Talent. “I had a lot of encouragement from friends and colleagues to become a talent agent,” said Gina. “At the time I had thought my career in politics was what I wanted. Everything changed when Ontario Liberal Leader, Lyn McLeod lost the 1995 provincial election. Suddenly I, and most of my team, were out of a job. That was 26 years ago. Like today’s environment, we had to reinvent ourselves.”
“I had a lot of contacts from my job at Queen’s Park, this helped me move relatively seamlessly into representing talent for film and television and eventually focussing primarily on Musical Theatre. Three of my best friends were cast in the Canadian Premiere of Miss Saigon. I was introduced to the Mirvish Productions casting director. She was quite excited at the time to develop more diversity in the talent for productions and became my biggest supporter as a new talent agent.” Since then, Gina's clients have been in shows such as Sound of Music, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots and Come From Away. They’ve played on stages from Charlottetown to Vancouver, Stratford, The Shaw Festival, Broadway and London’s West End.
“I’m also a performer myself,” continued Gina. “I’ve been in several productions. I'm not a professional but I love the moments on stage. I think all Filipinos love to sing. Check out most Filipino homes and you’ll find a karaoke machine. Im part of the pioneer karaoke crowd in Toronto...started it in the mid 80s and have won my fair share of karaoke competitions”
“My favourite performances and characters I’ve played include Bloody Mary in South Pacific – this was my break into onstage performance in 2017. I got to sing “Bali Hai”...with an 18 piece orchestra – I modelled my character after my grandmother. I also did Curtains, a Broadway show from the written by Kander and Ebb (Chicago and Cabaret). It’s a great “who done it” murder mystery. My character, “Carmen Bernstein” a brassy show biz producer, was played by Deborah Monk on Broadway. On Apri 2, 2020 I was set to open as Mama Morton in a regional production of Chicago but we shut everything down on March 20. Hopefully we will open in April 2022”
“I’ve gotten to work with amazing people. And I’ve been lucky enough to meet other amazing people,” says Gina. “One of my more successful clients is Kevin Durand. Kevin is known for portraying Vasiliy Fet in The Strain, Martin Keamy in Lost, Fred J. Dukes / The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Little John in Robin Hood.
“Kevin is fluently bilingual. He grew up in Thunder Bay. He reached 6’ 6” by the time he was 14 and played hockey. His break-out role was in Mystery, Alaska. The casting director had sent me a brief for a tall, hockey playing, French speaking actor. I sent in Kevin’s bio. Nothing came back. I called the casting director and asked what was going on, Kevin was a shoo-in for the role,” said Gina. “I was told they were thinking of more marquee names and that Kevin’s resume was too ‘musical theatre’ I reminded them that They had asked for a tall, French speaking athlete and I had sent them exactly what they had asked for. A little pushy, but it worked, Kevin got the audition and the role. The rest is history. I will push for my clients.”
“Kevin has now moved onto LA and has an American agent, but he still calls me. When he came to Toronto for the premier of Real Steel with Hugh Jackman, he surprised me and had me put on the guest list. I had a superfan moment when I got to meet Hugh and yes, he’s as nice as all the reports,” says Gina.
“When I started the agency and for 25 years, all talent had in-person auditions. For the past 18 months it’s all by videotape,” continues Gina. “These tapes are supplied by my clients to me. I usually ask for the tapes to be provided to me at least one day in advance so that we can review and make sure the content matches the brief that had been provided. That’s my special strength in this business, understanding what a brief means and giving the casting directors what they're looking for”
Gina, moved into our neighbourhood in 2008. “I was living in the Beaches at the time. I had one of those crazy old houses...beautiful but in constant need of major repairs. Every time you turned around something needed to be fixed,” said Gina. “I had driven a friend home to this neighbourhood and loved the feel of it. It also was convenient as this neighbourhood is much closer to my parents who live in the Don Mills and York Mills neighbourhood. That was winter 2007. I moved here in April 2008.”
“I knew Don Mills, I had grown up in Toronto and Thornhill, but I didn’t know this little pocket. I loved the size of the rooms. We have space, openness and proximity to all that is important,” says Gina. “And my backyard is my oasis. I love to entertain and my friends are crazy, talented, artistic people from all over the GTA. Being close to downtown and the highway means that I am accessible by everyone.”
“My father was one of the first Filipino physicians to emigrate to Canada and set up his private practice. My grandmother, who I modelled my role in South Pacific after, was also a talent agent, but in the music business,” says Gina. “She was an awesome and powerful, don’t take crap kind of woman with grit and determination. After her husband died, she left her two young daughters in Manila so that she could pursue an MBA in Washington DC. That's incredible for a woman in the mid 1950's to do. She was so strong and inspiring.”
“I’m not planning on leaving this neighbourhood any time soon,” says Gina. “I love my neighbours – they are amazing – and the size of the homes makes it hard to think of living anywhere else. I have a condo that I bought for an investment. I had thought I might move in there later on, but I can’t imagine living in such small space. I'm filipino, I need room for my shoes!! “