Patty Fleming remembers Sam Muik as an awkward Silver Creek farm kid who wanted to dance.
Now she uses the Vancouver-based actor, who stars in the CBC digital series Hudson and has appeared in numerous other popular TV shows, as an example to her students of what can be achieved with a strong work ethic.
“He is my ultimate example of work ethic,” said Fleming, owner and principal instructor of Salmon Arm’s Just for Kicks Dance Studio. “He wasn’t a natural. He was this farm boy who came in from Silver Creek. He walked in and I giggled and bugged him – he even walked awkward back then.”
Fleming said Muik joined Just For Kicks and his drive and work ethic quickly became evident.
“This kid worked and worked just so he could earn space in that studio,” said Fleming. “He ended up being our custodian at the studio to work off his dance classes… At the end of the night, when I would go to go home and it was late and I was exhausted, he’d be there sweeping and cleaning, and then he’d stay in that studio and practise for hours. He was just so driven and so wanted it.”
Muik said Fleming saw that he wasn’t the best dancer, but that he was willing to put in the work in if he got the opportunity.
“Just for Kicks in particular was one of the first concrete influences that I had that I can find a way to make it on my own – but it’s just not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination,” said Muik, who also speaks highly of his Shuswap 4-H experience and the influence it had.
“‘Learn to do by doing’ – that bloody motto that I hated as a kid, is just absolutely true,” said Muik. “You have to start, you have to be willing to fail, you have to be willing to take chances and you have to be positive through it and listen and learn, because it’s not going to be easy but it’s way better than sitting back and wondering ‘what if’ which, in Salmon Arm, I didn’t want to do.”
Muik graduated from Salmon Arm Secondary in 2011 and, in 2012, he moved to Vancouver, determined to eke out a career in dance. In time and with further training, Muik was making a living at dance. He landed a role as a dancer in the first of the Descendants movies, released in 2015. Not long after that experience, he began to train as an actor.
“I found myself interested in it and then it also just seemed the more I put in to it… the more I decided I wanted to focus on it, the more opportunity started finding its way to me as well,” said Muik.
With Vancouver currently a national hub of film and television production, Muik says he hasn’t gone a week in the last year-and-a-half without an audition (his Observer interview was conducted in between two calls for two auditions).
“There’s a lot of great friends and colleagues here and we’re all doing everything we can to keep upping the ante and upping the capacity of actor that comes out of Vancouver,” said Muik, whose acting resumé includes roles on Charmed, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Twilight Zone, Riverdale, The inBetween and Supernatural.
In Fleming’s eyes, Muik is a star who has earned all of his success.
“I’ve seen the kids who work hard make it farther than anybody because that’s what it takes, especially in that kind of business,” said Fleming, adding she will sometimes meet with Muik when she takes her students to the Lower Mainland. “This year I got to tell him about a girl that reminded me of him, who wants to work, so he goes, ‘which one is she?’ So I point her out. The next thing I know, he’s over there shaking her hand and giving all this advice and helping. He’s just the greatest guy. I love him.”