New Canadian podcast spotlights Indigenous actors turning the tide on representation in the industry
Meaningful representation of Indigenous Peoples on screen has exploded in the last few years but there’s still work to do. High profile stories about fraudulent claims to Indigenous identity can leave the harmful impression that there aren’t many accomplished or talented genuinely Indigenous artists. Of course that’s far from the truth. Actors and Ancestors is a brand new podcast that aims to create a space for Indigenous actors to tell their own stories on their own terms, push back against old stereotypes, and inspire positive change in the broader film and TV industry.
Actors and Ancestors launches on November 26th, 2023. Guided by the show’s creator and host, Rocky Cree actor, Joel D. Montgrand, every episode of Actors and Ancestors features a screen-based Indigenous actor with a story to tell. Montgrand aims to center joy and laughter while not shying away from difficult topics. His guests dive into stories about how acting changed their life trajectories, to “pretendians” in the industry, to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement.
Season 1 includes interviews from guests including:
- Kali Reis (Seaconke Wampanoag) of Catch the Fair One and True Detective Season 4
- Darrell Dennis (Secwépemc) of Northwood and The Lincoln Lawyer
- Anna Lambe (Inuk) of The Grizzlies and Trickster
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Montgrand started the podcast because he was looking for a show specific to Indigenous actors and couldn’t find one, especially not focused on Canada. “Growing up, I didn’t even know this career path was possible. I would have loved to have a roadmap to the industry from people like me,” Montgrand says, “I hope Actors and Ancestors helps other people who are interested in this line of work but have no idea where to start.” While Actors and Ancestors is aimed at aspiring Indigenous actors, Montgrand also hopes anyone in the broader film and TV world can learn from the guests’ stories and become stronger catalysts for change in their industry. It’s been a long road from the tired tropes and stereotypes Indigenous actors have had to play to get a foot in the door. But now, thanks to projects like Prey, Reservation Dogs, Slash/Back, and upcoming features like Sweet Summer Pow Wow, Indigenous actors have more ability to authentically represent themselves and their communities on screen.
“I am excited for this podcast to be released because I’ve been tinkering with the concept for a long time, hoping to do something impactful with the industry experience I’ve gathered up until now,” Montgrand says. The podcast series will start with a brief introduction episode to Montgrand himself, his people’s land, and why he is the show’s guide. The launch will also include two other episodes with actors Kali Reis and Darrell Dennis. Actors and Ancestors will be available on all major podcast players.
Montgrand hopes this show will reach Indigenous communities small and large, industry professionals with the power to make positive change, as well as anyone simply interested in a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the actors on their favourite shows. Montgrand says, “I hope to one day interview someone who started acting because listening to Actors and Ancestors helped them find the courage to pursue that dream.”
Indigenous Peoples still face ongoing discrimination and exclusion in Canada. The calls to action for Truth and Reconciliation include meaningfully and permanently dismantling the systemic racism that leads to limited opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. Actors and Ancestors aims to contribute to this change in its own small way.
About the host
The host of Actors and Ancestors, Joel D. Montgrand, is originally from Treaty 6 and Treaty 10 territories in Northern Saskatchewan. He is Rocky Cree and grew up with his mother, kokum, mushum, surrounded by his five aunties and an uncle in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. His father is of settler descent. He is best known for his role in Beans, a story of Kahnawake resistance to settler colonial violence (aka The Oka Crisis). Montgrand appears in two major projects being released in 2024: True Detective Season 4 as Eddie Qavvik, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, as Hakoda.
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