Treading the boards: Law student spent years as a TV and stage actress

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Although Ruby Joy’s parents, Robert and Mary Joy, are both actors, their daughter had no intention of studying drama until a career counselor asked about her extracurricular activities and she realized she had been doing theatre after school for years. She then successfully applied to Tisch School of the Arts, the performing, cinematic and media arts school of New York University.

Joy moved to Canada following her role in the popular CBC Television comedy-drama “The Republic of Doyle,” set in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, which aired 2010 to 2014 and is still available in reruns on some channels.

She then acted in various stage productions, including five seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario (now called the Stratford Festival).

Although now turning to a new career in the legal field, Joy will draw on those many years of acting experience.

“Speaking with intention and conviction to large audiences, vouching for a person—my character—in the room, and working collaboratively are all skills I intend to bring from the performing arts to my career in law,” she says.

In her years as a professional actor, Joy was involved with the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), and the Canadian Actors' Equity Association (CAEA).

“Coming to the negotiating table as a practitioner, I saw how the legal language of collective agreements, constitutions, and bylaws, affected artists across the country,” she says.

She is now close to graduation from the Dual JD program offered by Detroit Mercy Law School and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

“I’m a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, so a dual degree feels like the perfect fit,” she says. “The rapport with professors at Detroit Mercy Law really made a positive difference in my experience at school.”

She also has enjoyed spending time in the Motor City.

“I love Detroit! I was raised between New York City and Los Angeles so I'm comfortable in big American cities, and I think Detroit is amazing,” she says.

Last summer, Joy worked with the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Clinic in Detroit, working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I enjoyed working with self-representing litigants,” she says. “It was gratifying to be able to provide real-world help.”

In a 2019 summer internship at the Wayne County Land Bank, she worked alongside a professor and classmate from Detroit Mercy Law.

“Researching and writing with people I had met at Detroit Mercy Law was a great way to grow professionally in the company of people I trust,” she says.

Joy’s goal is to work in labor and employment law.

“Experience with my professional associations made me aware how foundational safe working conditions and respect for labor are to social health,” she says.

In each year at Detroit Mercy Law she has served as Dual JD secretary for the SBA (Student Bar Association).

“It's such a privilege to hear the concerns of different groups on campus and to speak up on behalf of my year,” she says.

Across the border, Joy has been involved with Making It Awkward (MIA), a student-led advocacy group challenging anti-Black racism on the University of Windsor's campus and in the larger Windsor community.

“Working alongside Professor Camisha Sibblis and fellow students Princess Doe and Natasha Daley, ensuring that anti-Black racism in Windsor does not go unchecked, has been a great honor,” she says. “I consider it an essential part of my learning and activism as a student, a citizen, and a human being.”




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