TORONTO -- The spotlight will be on Toronto's Shannon Kook at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The actor -- who was raised in South Africa -- has been named a "rising star" at the annual movie marathon, which kicks off Thursday.

It's a distinction the festival gives annually to four actors who then participate in seminars, mentoring sessions and other networking opportunities with industry players.

"Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany, Sarah Gadon of "Maps to the Stars" and "Cosmopolis" fame, and "Empire of Dirt" lead Cara Gee are among those who've participated in the program that's into its fourth year.

This year's three other Rising Stars -- as chosen by a jury -- are: Alexandre Landry, Sophie Desmarais and Julia Sarah Stone.

Kook, who is in the upcoming film "Dark Places" with Charlize Theron, spoke with The Canadian Press about the honour:

CP: Where were you when you found out you'd been deemed a TIFF Rising Star?

SK: I'd just woken up at like 8 a.m. I was working till 5 a.m. the night before, but I was screaming lying in my bed. It was great.

CP: What do you hope this will lead to?

SK: Relationships, mostly, and then just insight into the business. It's a very artistic process as an actor, but the industry and knowing about the business is a big part of it, too. I've been to TIFF a few times but now I sort of have like a seat at the table. ... I've spoken to a lot of the past Rising Stars and they've had a plethora of amazing things to say, so I'm just staying open and looking forward to it.

CP: How does it feel to be in the company of Rising Stars alumni who've gone on to worldwide fame?

SK: I'm friends with Tatiana Maslany and Sarah Gadon. The first role I ever did in Canada, (Gadon) was my first scene partner and my first love interest. ... I know a bunch of them and they're doing amazingly.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sept. 14.