You starred on Smallville for eight seasons. How did that come about? In Grade 12, my drama teacher at Eric Hamber told me about an audition for a CBC show called Edgemont. I got a lead role, but I didn’t know how to act for the camera. I’d only done theatre. The casting director, Carole Tarlington, really championed me, sending me out. Eventually, at age 18, I was cast in Smallville. That role, Lana Lang, was so sweet.

In your new film, Ecstasy, your character has more edge. Do they feel unrelated? I like quirky characters, which this one is. She has a relationship with a very cut-off man, hates her job, is on antidepressants, is a bit numb. The film looks at how we build the kind of passion in our lives or love for ourselves that transcends relationships or drugs.

Were drugs part of your adolescence? I grew up in the ’90s, when raves were still really popular. I went to the ones out in Richmond in little warehouses. You had to get a text to find out where they were. But for me, drugs felt like a cop-out: if I couldn’t generate real emotion, I didn’t feel it was okay to rely on them to do it for me. Irvine Welsh did the drugs in his books, but you see him now and he’s solid. You can find yourself in a roundabout way through drugs, but you’re taking a risk.

Finding yourself is what your website is all about. I started Girlsbydesign.com with a friend when I was still on Smallville. Being on the WB Network, I realized all the writing was geared toward one element of what a woman is. There was a focus on looking a certain way, wearing certain clothes. It was fun, but one-dimensional. I wanted to empower young women to build their self-esteem, follow their dreams, make a difference. Even though there’s a ton of apathy—look at all the riots here and in London—I think there are also kids who are on fire and want to create change.

Rather than move to L.A., you’ve stayed in Vancouver. By choice or happy coincidence? It’s smarter to move to Hollywood. You get photographed more, you’re in the press more, you build your career faster. I’ve been hesitant, though, because I feel uncomfortable in that atmosphere. I remember going to L.A. when I was younger and seeing the sprawl, all the gas stations and drive-throughs, and feeling really sad. Shooting Smallville in Vancouver afforded me the luxury of growing up without thinking about business.