“A Day in the Life” with Vancouver-based Director Corey Payette

A member of the Mattagami First Nations with French-Canadian and Irish ancestry, Corey Payette grew up in small-town Northern Ontario, and at the age of 16 – when his music teachers admitted they had run out of things to teach him – he moved to Ottawa, then to Toronto where he earned a BFA in Music Composition from York University. Next was the West Coast, where he worked as a musical theatre performer, found inspiration and community, and began writing musicals. In 2014, he took on the leadership of Urban Ink Productions. Centring language revitalization and community engagement, he has brought 4 new musicals into the world: Children of God, Les Filles du Roi, Sedna, and Starwalker – ground-breaking artistic events that have provided revolutionary opportunities for Indigenous and diverse artists. During the pandemic, he became a feature filmmaker, forging an aesthetic that is both land-based and theatrical. Corey has opened the hearts and changed the perspectives of tens of thousands of audience members who have witnessed his work. He is a change-maker and a really fun friend. He loves Beyoncé, lakes, and lounging with his nearest and dearest. He adores his twin nieces and lives with his husband Marshall and their sassy cat Mabel. Their home is full of art, laughter, and plants.

-Written by Julie McIsaac, Co-Writer/lyricist and Actor in Les Filles du Roi

Corey Payette
This is Mabel. She is a 5-year-old tuxedo cat and she doesn’t require much attention at all.
Corey Payette
My office view at Urban Ink in the Woodwards Building in the DTES. Always something surprising to see.
On set of my new film Starwalker – I could be directing, or voguing. Either works. Photo by Syd Wong.
On set of Starwalker in Strathcona, with lead actor Dillan Chiblow. Photo by Syd Wong.
Making my Carnegie Hall debut with a 250-person choir, singing the song “Gimikwenden Ina (Do you Remember?)” from my musical Children of God. Conducting the song is Carrie Tennant, also a local Vancouverite making her Carnegie Hall debut here! Photo by Jeff Nash.
In the recording studio at Monarch, with Sean Bayntun on the grand piano and Alex Penney at the mixing board. Recording music for Starwalker.
Corey Payette
With the cast and crew of my first narrative feature film Les Filles du Roi (coming to VIFF 23!). Photo by Marshall McMahen.
In my happy place, at the top of Tullin Mountain in the Tsilhqot’in with my husband Marshall. Can you spot the eagle flying to the right of my head?


Which ’hood are you in?

East Van Rez. Very grateful to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl’ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples for being such good caretakers of this land I’ve called home for 14 years.

What do you do?

I write musicals, usually on stage but more recently on film. I’m also the Artistic Director of Urban Ink and Raven Theatre.

What are you currently working on?

Les Filles du Roi a feature musical film, is receiving its Canadian Premiere at VIFF 23! I’m also currently in post-production for a new musical feature film I’ve written/directed called Starwalker. I’m always writing new musicals that will premiere years from now.

Where can we find your work?

Visit my website or head to Urban Ink for more details about future local showings.


About Sabrina Greggain-Lord 34 Articles
My name is Sabrina Greggain-Lord and I am a Community Outreach worker for the Vancouver Guardian. I am passionate about writing and bringing recognition to those doing wonderful work within their communities.