Secwépemc actor Grace Dove makes directorial debut, keeps pushing for Indigenous representation in film


Grace Dove loves motion picture storytelling so much that she’s no longer satisfied with only spending her time in front of the camera — she’s taking the director’s seat. 

The Secwépemc actor from Prince George, B.C., is making her directorial debut with her short film Kiri and the Dead Girl, which is based on the life story of Tlingit artist Kiri Green.

The 29-year-old’s CV is already impressive: She co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Oscar-winning film The Revenant, and acted alongside Forest Whitaker in the Netflix film How It Ends. She’s also the lead in the upcoming film Monkey Beach, which opens the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Dove spoke out about First Nations’ representation in Hollywood in her TEDx talk in Vancouver in September 2018. She says productions that focus on portraying the trauma Indigenous communities suffer are not always reflective of lived experiences.

In Monkey Beach, an adaptation based on a novel by Haisla and Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson, Dove was able to work with a cast and crew composed of mostly Indigenous women.

“You see the layers of resilience, and you see the layers of humour and family connection and hint into our own spirituality, and all the layers that make us the first peoples of this land,” she told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC’s Daybreak North.

Dove feels the obligation to speak out because other Indigenous actors may not have her privilege.

“I have to go with what my spirit is saying,” she said. “That’s the only way that we’re going to truly see change in the future.”

Dove hopes to keep pushing the industry for more representation. Kiri and the Dead Girl, for instance, has involved Indigenous people in every department of the project.

“I want to make sure that I’m supporting safe spaces and encouraging young Indigenous youth to get into the industry and saying that there is a place for you here.”

Monkey Beach will be screening online from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7 at Vancouver International Film Festival. 

Tap the links below to listen to Grace Dove’s interviews on Daybreak North and The Early Edition:

The ‘Revenant’ and ‘Monkey Beach’ star speaks about the importance of Indigenous representation in film, and why she’s getting ready to make her directoral debut. 8:44
She also speaks with Stephen Quinn about being Indigenous and how that impacts the roles she gets to play. 7:54

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