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Once Upon a Time Wiki
Sara Canning
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General Information
Gender: Female
Birthday: July 14, 1987
Age: 34
Birthplace: Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Other Information
Height: 5'6¼"
Occupation(s): Actress
Education: F.R. Haythorne Junior High
Bev Facey Community High School
Vancouver Film School
Talents: Acting
Family & Friends
Family: Wayne Canning (father)
Daphne Canning (mother)
Series Information
Character: Gretel
Only appearance: Sisterhood

Sara Canning is a Canadian actress. She co-starred on The CW television series The Vampire Diaries as Jenna Sommers, and appeared in the 2009 feature film, Black Field. She starred as Dylan Weir in the Canadian television series, Primeval: New World, and as Dr. Melissa Conner on the Global medical drama Remedy. Canning appeared in the 2017 blockbuster film War for the Planet of the Apes.

View the Sara Canning Gallery.

Early life

Canning was born in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, the daughter of Wayne and Daphne Canning. She lived in Brown's Arm, Newfoundland until age eleven, and was then raised in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton, Alberta. She competed as a figure skater in her childhood and early adolescent years, and became interested in theatre as a student at F.R. Haythorne Junior High. Canning starred in several stage productions while attending Bev Facey Community High School, and acted in shows at her hometown stage at Festival Place.

Canning made her professional acting debut in George Orwell's 1984 at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton at the age of 18. She began studying general arts at the University of Alberta, and considered going into journalism. Still interested in performing, Canning left university at 19 and moved to Vancouver to pursue a career in acting. She graduated from a year-long screen acting program at Vancouver Film School in 2007.


Canning found an agent and began acting in television series and TV films produced in Vancouver. She worked in a restaurant and would take time off to film. Her first role was in 2008, playing Nicky Hilton in Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story. In 2009, she guest-starred on Smallville and Kyle XY, and starred in the based-on-real-events TV movie, Taken in Broad Daylight. She played Anne Sluti, a 17-year- old girl who was abducted by a demented criminal (James Van Der Beek).

In 2009, Canning filmed a pilot episode for the CW network television series, The Vampire Diaries. She then starred in the feature film, Black Field, a 19th-century gothic period piece directed by Danishka Esterhazy. Canning shot the drama near Tyndall, Manitoba, Canada in May 2009. She played Maggie McGregor, the older of two British sisters struggling take make their way on the Canadian Prairies. The film premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2009. The Vampire Diaries series was picked up three weeks after she completed work on the film.

Canning co-starred on The Vampire Diaries as Jenna Sommers, the aunt and guardian of Elena Gilbert , and her younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). Canning was younger or the same age as her fellow cast members who played high school students. Makeup artists and the wardrobe team worked to make her look older. Canning also downplayed her Canadian accent for the role. Matthew Davis played her character's love interest, Alaric. Canning appeared on the second season of The Vampire Diaries from 2010–2011, until her character was killed in the episode "The Sun Also Rises".

Canning is interested in writing and directing. As of September 2010, she was co-writing a love story set in the Western time period. In 2011, she worked on a short film noir, titled Corvus, and shot the Lifetime network film, Hunt for the I-5 Killer, in Vancouver. She filmed the Hallmark Movie Channel Western, Hannah's Law, in Calgary, Alberta in late 2011, starring alongside Greystone Holt.

Canning appeared in I Think I Do, which began filming in January 2012 in Edmonton. She starred as Audrey, an event planner who runs a business alongside her two sisters (Mia Kirschner and Jenny Cooper). The romantic comedy aired in 2013 on the W and Lifetime networks. She filmed the independent romantic comedy, The Right Kind of Wrong, in Banff, Alberta in late 2012, starring alongside Ryan Kwanten and Catherine O'Hara, directed by Jeremiah Chechik.

Canning starred in the 2012–2013 Space channel television series, Primeval: New World, a Canadian spin-off of the British sci-fi series Primeval. She played predator control expert Dylan Weir, a member of a dinosaur hunting team; the series was filmed in Vancouver. Canning also starred in 2012 with Aaron Ashmore in the dark romantic comedy, I Put a Hit on You. In 2013, she joined the cast of the psychological drama film, Eadweard, starring Michael Eklund. She played Flora, the wife of 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

Canning played general surgeon Mel Conner in the Global medical drama, Remedy, co-starring Sarah Allen, Dillon Casey, and Enrico Colantoni. The television series was in production in Toronto from October 2013–January 2014. Broadcast company Shaw Media renewed the series for a second 10-episode season. Canning won the 2014 UBCP/ACTRA best actor and the 2015 Leo Award for Best Lead Performance for her role.

Canning co-starred in War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), a sequel to 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. She appeared in On the Farm, a Rachel Talalay-directed TV film about serial killer Robert Pickton, and in Hello Destroyer, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Canning played Jacquelyn Seleszyka in the 2017 Netflix series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on Daniel Handler's book series of the same. She will also star as the head of a boarding school, Ms. Brixil, in the thriller, Level 16, written and directed by Danishka Esterhazy.


Year Title Type Role
2008 Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story TV Movie Nicky Hilton
2008 Smallville TV Series Kat
2008 Slap Shot 3: The Junior League Video Hope
2009 Kyle XY TV Series Redhead
2009 Taken in Broad Daylight TV Movie Anne Sluti
2009 Come Dance at My Wedding TV Movie Andrea Merriman
2009 Black Rain TV Movie Jenny
2009 Black Field Maggie McGregor
2009 - 2017 The Vampire Diaries TV Series Jenna Sommers
2011 Hunt for the I-5 Killer TV Movie Beth Williams
2012 Supernatural TV Series Lydia
2012 Hannah's Law TV Movie Hannah Beaumont
2012 Corvus Short The Dame
2012 - 2013 Primeval: New World TV Series Dylan Weir
2013 I Think I Do Audrey Ryan
2013 King & Maxwell TV Series Claire Culpepper
2013 The Right Kind of Wrong Colette
2013 Garage Sale Mystery TV Movie Hannah
2013 - 2014 Republic of Doyle TV Series Jessica Dwyer
2014 I Put a Hit on You Harper
2014 Hell on Wheels TV Series Charlotte Royce
2014 - 2015 Remedy TV Series Melissa Conner
2015 Eadweard Flora
2016 Motive TV Series Tracy Blaine
2016 On the Farm TV Movie Sinead McLeod
2016 Hello Destroyer Wendy Davis
2017 Android Employed TV Series Sophia
2017 War for the Planet of the Apes Lake
2017 Prodigals Jen
2017 Multiverse Dating for Beginners Short Ivy
2017 - 2018 A Series of Unfortunate Events TV Series Jacquelyn
2018 Send Us Smokes Short Lucille
2018 Level 16 Miss Brixil
2018 Once Upon a Time TV Series Gretel
2018 Welcome to Nowhere Blake
2018 A.R.C.H.I.E. 2 Lara
2018 Take Two TV Series Melissa Larson
2018 Van Helsing TV Series Carter / Polly Miller
2018 The Fish & The Sea Short The Real Estate Agent
2019 Hatch Short Marcy
2019 The Banana Splits Movie Rebecca
2019 Wu Assassins TV Series Alana
2019 Z (completed) Jenna Montgomery
2019 Hospital Show (post-production) TV Mini-Series Charlie (Dr. Samantha Grace)
2019 Amish Abduction (post-production) TV Movie Annie
2020 An Awkward Balance (post-production) Venice

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
2012 Leo Award Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Feature Length Drama Hannah's Law Nominated
2014 UBCP/ACTRA Awards Best Actress Award Remedy Won
2015 Leo Award Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series Remedy Won
Best Guest Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series Hell on Wheels Nominated
UBCP/ACTRA Awards Best Actress Award Eadweard Nominated
2016 Leo Award Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series Remedy Nominated
Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Television Movie On the Farm Nominated
2017 Leo Award Best Guest Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series A Series of Unfortunate Events Nominated


  • She made her stage acting debut at 18 in an Edmonton production of 1984.
  • She took on the role as Dylan Weir on Primeval: New World in 2012.
  • She had a relationship with Michael Morris from 2006 to 2011.
  • She co-starred in the 2009 thriller Taken in Broad Daylight with James Van Der Beek.