Before Victoria, the biggest star in her hometown of Chesley was an 18-foot sculpture named Bruce the Cow. Little did anyone in the small northern Ontario, Canada town know that, when Victoria was born on December 18th, a new star had just entered their midst. And a star she did dream of becoming, though not in the way one might think looking at her today. Acting, as it turned out, was not part of the original plan.
A tomboy at heart, Victoria started blazing her path to stardom the only way that she knew how – through sports, specifically through running. What started as running miles of country roads near her home turned quickly to Provincial, then National medals in track and field (she won a medal at the 1990 Canadian Track and Field Championships), specializing in hurdling events such as the 800, 400, and 600 meter long sprints.
Victoria didn’t just excel at sports, either. She entered Toronto’s York University a full year ahead of her class. If that wasn’t impressive enough, during her four years there, Victoria made the Dean’s list every single year, mirroring her own mother’s performance at university. Despite being buried in her books, she still trained and competed at the Commonwealth Games, all while maintaining a spot at the top of her class! When all was said and done, the hard work paid off – Victoria graduated Summa cum Laude with a degree in Kineseology.
Graduation wasn’t the end of her university career. Turning down a scholarship to the masters program in physiotherapy, Victoria took a job in the University’s human performance lab, testing professional athletes on the level of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey players and Olympic competitors. At the same time, she worked on co-authoring a book about fitness and bodybuilding with one of her former professors. Needing photos of athletes for the book, she went to Robert Kennedy, founder and publisher of MuscleMag, Oxygen, and American Health & Fitness. Walking through the door into his office, wearing no makeup and a bulky trenchcoat, Victoria had no idea that her life was about to change.
Robert Kennedy knew a star when he saw one, and he immediately saw the star in Victoria. She had what he calls ‘sparkle’, making an immense impression on the publisher right off the bat. “People with ultimate sparkle can walk into a room behind you and you’ll feel it; your hair will stand up on the back of your neck,” Kennedy says. “There are very few people like that, but I sensed it immediately with Vicky.” Robert Kennedy was picking up on the effect that would soon win Victoria many fans the world over.
Just a few weeks later, it was back to the MuscleMag offices for a test shoot that turned into photospreads in MuscleMag, a Q&A column in Oxygen, and would lead to much more. It is in front of the camera that Victoria truly shines, and it is there that she finds her true home, her killer smile, athletic physique, and captivating good looks combining to make her not only a cover girl, but one of the most recognizable fitness models in the world.
In spite of her immediate success, Kennedy knew that Victoria was destined for more. No still camera could capture her room-filling laugh (famous among her fans), translate her wicked, offbeat sense of humor, or all of her natural sex appeal. Acting would be perfect for her…if she could be convinced. “I said to her, ‘What is it that you ultimately want to do: videos, commercials, posters, calendars, or show business?’ ” Kennedy recalls. “And her very words were: All of the above.” Victoria, it seemed, was up to the challenge.
Following Kennedy’s encouragement, Victoria started taking acting lessons at the Actor’s Network in Toronto. Two years of classes later, she began looking for an agent, and after trying out in her very first audition, landed a spot as host of the Discovery Channel adventure sport show Go For It. Her first acting audition followed soon after, and she landed the part of Jackie Janczyk, a valley-girl mob boss on John Woo’s new Once a Thief TV series. The impression she made at the audition and on the show’s viewers turned what was only supposed to be a one-time guest character into a popular recurring regular that saw Victoria starring as Jackie in a total of eight episodes that first season.
When the first season wrapped, Victoria hopped on a plane to the Philippines to visit some friends shooting a movie called Legacy in the capital city of Manila. While still on the plane, word reached her that the actress playing the part of Ding, a news reporter, had dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Before she knew it, she was cast to fill the part, playing opposite the likes of Rod Stieger and David Hasselhoff!
Soon after, Victoria received the unfortunate news that Once a Thief had been cancelled, much to her disappointment. Luck had been with her so far, but she wasn’t sure if lightning could indeed strike twice. Still, the acting bug had bitten hard, so Victoria packed her bags for Los Angeles in pursuit of her new dream.
It wasn’t long before Victoria landed her next part, playing Cyane, Queen of the Amazons, on the hit series Xena: Warrior Princess. The shoot for the two-part season four opener was filmed in remote locations all over New Zealand and proved to be a valuable, wonderful experience - all on a hit show at the height of its popularity, alongside series star Lucy Lawless. Victoria’s role as Cyane only lasted for two episodes, but it earned her exposure that she hadn’t gotten previously in Hollywood, and opened many new avenues to her as an up-and-coming actress. To this day Cyane is one of the most memorable characters among Xena fans and Victoria fans alike.
After wrapping her stint on Xena, Victoria returned from New Zealand just in time for one of the most hectic times in television – pilot season. She quickly landed a part (a lead role this time!) in the pilot for a new Aaron Spelling series called Forbidden Island. So it was back to New Zealand for filming. Though it was a highly anticipated pilot, Forbidden Island was never picked up. Time to start from scratch with more auditioning.
Like many other Canadians, Victoria had always loved the Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas comedy, Strange Brew, whose characters are a part of Canadian comedy lore. She caught word that there was a sequel in the works, entitled Home Brew, and that the movie had a female starring role. Leaping at the chance to be in the sequel to one of her favorite films, Victoria promptly sent an audition tape to the production offices. Liking her tape, Dave Thomas met with her in LA, and by the end of the meeting the role of Mary Beth was hers.
The very same day that Victoria was offered the part in Strange Brew, she was also offered a lead in the new series Cleopatra 2525, being produced by Xena exec-producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. The part of Sarge, a wisecracking, ass-kicking woman warrior in the year 2525, seemed perfect for her, but…Victoria couldn’t pass on Home Brew. She turned down Cleopatra and flew to Toronto for wardrobe fittings and rehearsals. Starring in the sequel to Strange Brew? It seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was. The Friday before principle photography was set to begin, Victoria got the devastating news that the film’s financing had fallen through. Home Brew was a no-go. Victoria scrambled to find out if the role on Cleopatra was still open. As luck
would have it, the part of Sarge, which had originally been written with her in mind, had not yet been cast. For three weeks, Rob Tapert had been casting for a “Victoria Pratt-type” with no success. If she could make it to the network testing in LA the next day, the producers would see her. Twelve hours later, the part was hers, and it was back on a plane to…you guessed it…New Zealand.
In one week, filming began on Cleopatra 2525, a half-hour action/sci-fi show for Studios USA. The futuristic series chronicled the adventures of Sarge, Hel (Gina Torres), and Cleo (Jennifer Sky) as they battled the Bailey robots that had taken over the surface of the earth, airing in tandem with its partner series Jack of All Trades as part of the Back2Back action hour. Cleopatra was eventually lengthened into a one-hour series when Jack was cancelled, requiring the re-shooting of several episodes. Six expanded episodes later, Cleopatra was also cancelled, oddly enough at the height of its popularity. In an eerie similarity to the fate of Home Brew, Cleopatra was done in by budget problems.
In between filming episodes of Cleopatra, Victoria starred in the HBO original movie Blacktop, playing a small town girl by the name of Charlie. It was a new genre and new type of role for the action actress to try her hand at. Produced by Fireworks Entertainment, it would end up being a stepping stone. The pieces for her next big break were falling into place, though Victoria didn’t know it yet…
When the producers of the Sci-Fi Channel series First Wave found out that Victoria was in Vancouver shooting Blacktop, they brought her in to audition for a guest spot on their show. She won the part of Claire, playing opposite series star Sebastian Spence (she would work with him again on her future show Mutant X) in the season two episode entitled “Tomorrow”.
It’s the 2001 pilot season, and Victoria has been approached by Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment for a part in their new action series from Marvel, called Mutant X. After their experience with her during the production of Blacktop, they have written one of the series leads, Shalimar Fox, with her in mind. Lightning was now striking at every turn – this is the second time that a part has been written specifically for her. The show has already been given the go-ahead for two full seasons without a pilot, but there is not yet a script for her to read, and her network test would not be until the very end of pilot season. It’s either say no and look for something else, or fly blind into testing for Mutant X and take the chance that she will be turned down with no time to find another show.
Talking with Mutant X exec-producer Jay Firestone, Victoria wants the part. Then she is sent a script for HRT (Hostage Rescue Team), a pilot for a new CBS series. She loves the script, and there is a female lead, a hostage rescuer who is just as tough as the guys are, but also funny and good-hearted, that would be perfect for her, so she calls her agent to get an audition. Though it is late in the casting period, the role has not yet been cast, so Victoria tapes an audition and sends it off to the producers. They liked her tape and she is asked to test for the HRT pilot. She thinks that she has nailed the audition, but…she doesn’t get the part. It’s a good thing – two months later, CBS scraps the pilot and the series never makes it to air.
Pilot season is over, but a spot in the test for Mutant X is still available. It’s Victoria vs. four other actresses in the battle for Shalimar, and she is having the day from hell. Her contract isn’t ready, and on top of that she has been given all the wrong scenes and has to learn all new lines. Shalimar is hers to lose, and when she walks out of the audition, she is certain that she’s lost. The days tick by with no callback from the producers. When it looks as though all is really lost, the phone rings – Shalimar Fox, the feral mutant with feline animal DNA, is hers, guaranteed for two seasons, an almost unheard of deal in television. Victoria is thrilled.
Not long after Mutant X begins filming in Toronto, close to Victoria’s hometown and family, she is asked to play a role in the independent feature The Mallory Effect. Being in the film would mean shooting Mutant X during the day, and going to Montreal at night to
shoot Mallory, but the film’s producers are willing to compensate. Fortunately, Mutant X’s producers are willing to do the same to help with the crazy schedule. The part of Jennifer is irresistible. Victoria decides to go for it, playing the comedic role in its entirety with her eyes completely crossed. Mallory went on to become the official opening night film at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.
Mutant X shaped up to be a dream job. The cast bonded immediately, becoming more like a family than a group of co-workers. Victoria has a blast working with everyone. Its season two, and the show is getting good ratings, and more and more magazines are calling to book photo shoots and interviews with her. Mutant X received a Saturn Award nomination in 2003 for ‘Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series’; the following year, Victoria was given the nod for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series’ for her portrayal of Shalimar. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror films had discovered what Robert Kennedy knew all along. Victoria was special, and she had talent. Though she did not win the award, a Saturn Award nomination is still a big honor.
Unfortunately, the end of the Mutant X story is not an altogether happy one. The series had just completed its third season, going a year beyond its original contract guarantee with award nominations and good ratings under its belt in spite of a lengthy legal battle that almost kept the show from airing in the first place. Then the good news comes down that the series has been picked up for a fourth season…or has it? Production partner Fireworks is told that they are being shut down by parent company CanWest in the wake of significant financial losses that the company has suffered. With no production company, and no one willing to finance the series, Mutant X is cancelled.
The demise of Mutant X did not by any means slow Victoria down. In fact, it gave her the freedom to pursue other projects, such as the independent films Ham & Cheese and Comedy Hell, the latter being shot in the summer of 2004 at the Angeles National Forest with cast and crew dodging forest fires that destroyed locations and blocked road access. In winter that same year, Victoria began shooting House of the Dead II, the sequel to the big budget horror film House of the Dead, in Los Angeles. In it she would play a Special Forces Lieutenant recruited along with the rest of her team to fight a spreading zombie infection. This was to be Victoria’s big screen theatrical debut, with a headlining role, but in a twist of fate (or perhaps luck), Lionsgate Films pulled the plug on Dead’s April 2006 theatrical release. Dead went straight to cable instead, airing on the SCIFI Channel more than a year after production had originally been completed, with a DVD release of the original theatrical version (which preserved several of Victoria’s scenes cut from the TV version) following not long after.
“…Don’t let her captivating looks and slammin’ body fool you…Vicky didn’t make it in Hollywood on her good looks and killer body alone.” – Allison Young, Oxygen, October 2002.
Indeed, her rise to fame is an interesting one, a combination of determination and a little luck, all mixed together with the undeniable fact that she does in fact have “the gift”. That, and the one intangible that truly makes her shine – a sparkle that is uniquely her own.
- Slider, PrattPack.com
2005 saw the premiere of two made-for-TV movies that Victoria completed earlier the previous year – USA Networks Murder at the Presidio, based on the only murder ever to take place at the historic Presidio army base, in which she would star opposite Lou Diamond Phillips as Military Police CPL Tara Jeffries, and the Lifetime original Hush. In the latter, Victoria plays a small town girl obsessed with getting back her first love, and it is perhaps her favorite role to date. The movie would also be a favorite among Lifetime viewers, airing in the top five of the network’s all-time favorite originals marathon later that year. Victoria’s on-screen presence that year would wrap up with a small part in the TJ Scott-directed CBS movie of the week, Mayday.
With multiple projects airing, Victoria begins work on a new crop of projects as the year winds down. The first is a role in the SCIFI Channel original Deadly Water (it would later be renamed Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep) playing a marine archeologist who finds herself in danger from a giant squid while hunting for a priceless treasure. The shoot, which requires Victoria and her co-stars to endure wet and cold, wraps at the end of October. With principle photography finished, Victoria returns to Los Angeles, and it’s not long before she is working again, this time on the independent horror film Brotherhood of Blood, an unconventional vampire movie from the writers of one of her previous films, House of the Dead II. The movie, which wraps around Christmas, has Victoria in the headline lead as vampire hunter Carrie Rieger, and also stars Jason Connery and cult icon Sid Haig.
January 2006, a new year and another new role for Victoria, this time in the independent feature What Love Is, starring with the likes of Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Anne Heche, and a very long list of other well known actors. Fast forward to pilot season – Victoria is involved in testing for a new ABC series, with Taye Diggs already cast. ABC execs keep calling her back to do more testing, wanting to make sure that she has the right chemistry with Taye. Finally, the decision is made, and the word is given. Victoria will play one of the lead roles as Det. Andrea Battle in the new series pilot for Day Break. Victoria is thrilled at the chance to star in her dream pilot for her dream network. Filming goes well, and the pilot wraps. Now the cast must wait until May to find out if the show will be ordered to series by the network. Sure enough when press time arrives and the networks roll out their series order announcements, Day Break is among them, greenlit for thirteen episodes.
With her new series on order, Victoria heads to Vancouver to film another movie for Lifetime. In Her Fatal Flaw, she has the lead as Laney Hennessy, a rising-star defense attorney whose fiance has been accused of murdering a high profile politician. Playing Laney’s mentor is William B. Davis, the notorious ‘Cigarrette Smoking Man’ from the X-Files, whom Victoria is very excited to be working with. The shoot wraps the first week in June, and its back to L.A. Filming starts on Day Break in July, and Victoria loves it. She can’t say enough good things about her whole experience working on the show. The series will air in place of the network’s hit series Lost while it is on hiatus, setting the show up with the perfect audience for its interesting combination of Groundhog Day-meets-24 -with -a –unique- twist concept.
In addition to the challenge of taking on a new series, Victoria would take on the challenge of poker that summer, specifically the challenge of No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em, getting a sponsored berth in the World Series of Poker 2006 Ladies No-Limit tournament held at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Playing for the Hollywood Poker Diamonds, an all-star women’s team playing for charity, her teammates were a star-studded cast that included Rikki Lake, Mimi Rogers, Anne Heche, and Kelly Hu. Victoria would finish as one of only two celebrities to place in the money at the event, taking 72nd out of more than 1000 entries! She would also make appearances at the 2006 WSOP Main Event and the WPT Ladies Night IV qualifier, and later the 2007 WPT Celebrity Invitational, meeting up again with her poker guru Lou Diamond Phillips.
Almost 10 million viewers were on hand for the 2-hour premiere of Day Break…a number that the series would, unfortunately fail to hold. The show went on to lose more than half of its audience over subsequent airings, and after airing only five of the thirteen episodes produced, the network pulled the plug, leaving the remaining episodes to be streamed over the internet to conclude the series. As is often the story in the television business, Victoria’s new dream series was not to be. Day Break may not have clicked with viewers, but it did provide her with an opportunity for much wider exposure, with episodes showcasing her talents to a much larger network television audience, possibly her largest audience yet.
Pilot season 2007 – Victoria auditions for a part in a new CBS sitcom. She doesn’t get the part, but at the last minute, execs at ABC offer her a part in the pilot for their new drama Dirty Sexy Money, starring Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, and William Bladwin. When Victoria first reads the breakdown for the role, she wonders if a mistake has been made by the network in asking her to come in, but they assure her that they are ‘playing’ with the character. She gets the part of Naomi Leeds, a magazine editor-in-chief looking to publish a dirt-filled expose on the powerful Darling family. Offer accepted, she is on a plane the next morning to New York, fitted for wardrobe the following day, and begins shooting the very next day after that! In an unfortunate turn of events during post-production, the Naomi character was cut from the pilot due to time constraints. That year, she would also star in another Lifetime network original movie, a supernatural thriller titled Hush Little Baby. Victoria would close out the year filming in rural Vancouver, starring in a made-for-tv re-imagining of the Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth as wealthy heiress Martha Dennison.
2008 would see Victoria filming guest spots in a number of major network shows, including Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight, Fear Itself, Life, and CSI, alongside her old Mutant X co-star Lauren Lee Smith. In between, she traveled to Toronto to make an appearance on Test the Nation, a sort of nationwide IQ test gameshow, the second highest rated show in Canada after Hockey Tonight. She participated as part of the celebrity panel in the show’s sports edition (and her team won!). In September, Victoria would embark on a business venture of an entirely different type. Taking her love of dance, and keeping in line with her long-time ties to the fitness world, she opened Revel Cardio Dance, a dance studio “for non-dancers”. The idea behind Revel was to make a place where people can have fun, learn a few dance moves, and get fit all at the same time. Steeped in Victoria’s signature style, and featuring classes taught some of LA’s top dance instructors (hand picked by Victoria herself), Revel has
proved to be a unique success, even being used during the filming of the Michael Flatley hosted Superstars of Dance.
Most recently Victoria has had another network guest starring role on CBS’s Cold Case, as well as making an appearance at the annual Xena: Warrior Princess fan convention.