Mark Leiren-Young is an accomplished Canadian journalist, playwright, author and performer. A Vancouver boy born and raised, Mark came to UVic as an undergrad, earning a double major in creative writing and theatre. His years at the Phoenix opened doors that would later be a big part of his success.
For Mark, he says that it all started at the University of Victoria, which makes it “so cool to be back here”, now teaching students of his own. As a part of the Southam Fellowship for journalists, Mark was asked to come to UVic and teach his own journalism class in the best way he knows how; through humour. During his time as a student here, Mark participated in a variety of performance mediums on campus. His comedy duo with fellow UVic alumni Art Norris, “Impolite Company”, started right here on campus. He also wrote an improvised soap opera called “Beacon Hill”. Also at the time, Mark was writing a comedy newscast which was eventually picked up by CFUV.
It didn’t end at UVic though. Mark went on to further his journalism career by writing for papers and magazines such as Time and Maclean’s, as well as writing numerous plays and memoirs, and for television and film. For a guy who’s written so many different things, he says it’s always interesting to meet people and find out how they know him. “I’ve had people track me down for Transformers conventions!” says Mark, who wrote a popular episode of the television show “Beast Wars: Transformers”.
Today, Mark is working on a variety of projects, including a the documentary that he’s “most of the way through” about Moby Doll, the first Orca brought into captivity. He’s also in the middle of directing his second movie. Of course, teaching two classes at UVic takes up a lot his time as well. His enthusiasm tells us that not only does he love it, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
For all those aspiring writers out there, Mark says to “write, write, write and get your stuff out there.” Nobody gets discovered without putting themselves out there for the world to see. Though he knows that “some of the best writers write beautiful things and then hide them in their drawers”, he encourages everyone to take that leap, and show their stuff to others. You never know who’s going to read it and fall in love.