by Christopher Guly

Mimi Kuzyk: The Canadian sequel

Mimi Kuzyk's life has been filled with sequels.

The Winnipeg-born actress will appear in a two-hour CBS-TV movie this season playing Mrs. Ivanov, a benefactor of a Russian Orthodox Church, in which the pastor is murdered by her mafia-head husband. The film, "Family of Cops II," sees the return of Inspector Paul Fein, played by Lithuanian American "Death Wish" star Charles Bronson.

In November, Ms. Kuzyk will tape "The Wedding of the Century," the sequel to the immensely popular Ukrainian Canadian production "Just a Kommedia," for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's English-language radio network.

Eighteen months ago, she returned to Toronto after living in Los Angeles for a dozen years.

"I believe we go through stages in life," Ms. Kuzyk said recently during a telephone interview from her home in Toronto's trendy Bloor West Village.

The move was more than just a phase, though. Ms. Kuzyk and her Greek-born, carpenter husband, Manolin Kourtikakis, wanted their daughter, Kaliopi ("wisdom" in Greek), who is almost 6, to get wise in a Canadian school. They chose St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic School in Toronto's Weston neighborhood, where the principal, Sister Rachel Tataryn, who once taught Ms. Kuzyk back at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Winnipeg.

Yet another sequel.

"L.A. is a movie town and no place to raise a family," said Ms. Kuzyk. "None of our friends were married, let alone having any children."

Ms. Kuzyk's return to Canada also brought her close to family. Two sisters, Kathryn and Christine, live in Toronto. Monica is in Ottawa, while Teresa, brother Myron, and parents Fred and Kay continue to live in Winnipeg. "I haven't lived with my family since 1977 when I left for Toronto," bubbled Ms. Kuzyk, whose given first name is Marilyn.

Her goal was to become a song-and-dance artist on Broadway. "I wanted to be like Liza Minnelli," said Ms. Kuzyk, who "hopaked" with Winnipeg's Ukrainian dance ensemble, Rusalka, for 12 years. Instead, she got Hollywood - big time.

Within six months of moving to L.A., Ms. Kuzyk was invited to meet Steven Bocchco, who was thinking about adding a new character to his series - now considered one of television's shining moments. An audition was not required and the Canadian actor became Det. Patsy Mayo on "Hill Street Blues," playing opposite Ken Olin (of "Thirtysomething" fame) for two seasons.

"It was unbelievable," said Ms. Kuzyk. It was also a steady gig for a member of a characteristically unsteady industry. "You go to work every week and get a paycheck," explained Ms. Kuzyk. "It was like a regular job."

Now, finding work back in Canada is not as certain.

Fortunately for Ms. Kuzyk, she is now a recognizable, and clearly bankable name, on both sides of the border. Her recent collaboration with Mr. Bronson was the product of U.S. film titan Douglas S. Cramer.

There's also that sequel thing going on in her life, along with uncompromising drive. "My goal is just to keep on acting," she said.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, November 17, 1996, No. 46, Vol. LXIV

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