Jun 14, 2024

Mom Genalyn and Gordon Cormier do a selfie. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

June 1, 2024 - He started acting, singing, and dancing on stage at age six. He was nine when he acted in his first TV commercial. He started auditioning for TV roles while attending the Vancouver Young Acting School, and at age 10, landed a role in the crime comedy “Get Shorty” (2019). Also in 2019, he got a small role in the Netflix series “Lost in Space,” about a family that crash-landed on an alien planet, and another role in “A Christmas Story,” a Hallmark movie about a newly-transplanted single mother who needs a big story to write about for her new job. 

Canadian Filipino Gordon Cormier’s name appears just below Whoopi Golberg’s in the list of cast and crew for “The Stand,” a mini-series adapted from a Stephen King novel that aired from 2020-2021, where he played Joe, a young boy gifted with musical talent who is traumatized by the loss of his whole family to a deadly virus. Other TV series he has acted in include “Turner and Hooch,” “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables,” “Two Sentence Horror Stories,” “Team Zenko Go,” and the animated film “Ready, Jet, Go! Space Camp” where he voiced the character of Mitchell Peterson, a wannabe-detective.

Given his already extensive acting experience, and the range of experiences and emotions he had already portrayed, it was no surprise to his family and friends that at age 11 in 2021, Gordon was picked to play the Avatar Aang in the Netflix live action version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” that premiered in February 2024.

 

Canadian Filipino Gordon Cormier plays the lead character on Netflix's The Last Airbender. Photo courtesy of Netflix.Canadian Filipino Gordon Cormier plays the lead character on Netflix's The Last Airbender. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

 

Cormier lives in Vancouver BC with his dad, French Canadian Gordon Cormier, his mother Genalyn Diez Cormier, who is originally from Laguna in the Philippines, and older brother Kyle. He loves skateboarding and was an easy fit for his role as Aang because of lessons he has had in tae kwon do. He visited the Philippines in February 2024 to promote the Netflix series.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is based on a Nickleodeon animated series that ran from 2005 to 2008. The series imagines a universe in which human civilization is divided into four nations based on the four classical elements: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Within each nation live "benders" who can command one of the four elements and perform wondrous deeds. The four nations were living peaceably with each other until the Fire Nation wiped out the Air Nomads with the goal of dominance over all nations. 

Cormier’s character Aang is an Air Nomad, a carefree boy who loved to play with his beloved Appa, a flying bison. The Air Nomad monks identified Aang as an Avatar - a person who appears once in every generation showing mastery of all the four elements. Anticipating a war between the four nations, the monks revealed his Avatar status to Aang when he was 12 because an Avatar would save the world. The monks wanted to send Aang away for training, but, not quite ready for the responsibilities that being an Avatar involved, Aang fled his home and the adventure began. 

Cormier told comicbook.com: "When I did this character, I mainly wanted to focus on keeping Aang's joy, happiness, and twelve-year-old spirit in general.” And yet Cormier goes into far darker emotions as he deals with the loss of and dangers to people he is close to and the unimaginable challenges he meets.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” had over 41 million viewers in less than two weeks of its release.  Apart from Cormier, the series features actors of multi-ethnic descent in all its major roles: Chinese Indonesian American actor Dallas Liu plays Zuko while Chinese American actress Elizabeth Yu plays Zuko’s sister Azula. Canadian actress Kiawentiio who is from a Mohawk family plays Katara and mixed-race American actor Ian Ousley plays Sokka. Also in the show are South Korean-Canadian actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee who plays Uncle Iroh and South Korean-born American actor Daniel Dae Kim plays Fire Lord Ozai.

“I never asked to be special,” Aang says in the first Episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” “I like to play airball and eat banana cakes and goof off with my friends.” The same could be said about Cormier. But with the acting chops he has so far shown, we have no doubt Cormier will “bend” the acting world to make a special place for himself, if he hasn’t already. 

In a press conference in Manila in February 2024, Cormier said: "I'm back in my homeland. It's nice to be back home."  Filipinos in Canada, and indeed all of the Philippines, are proud and happy to adopt him as a family member. That he acknowledges his Filipino roots makes him even more of a star! 


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