I am an actor. I am trained as an actor. I work as an actor.

Is that all I am? I hope not. I don’t think any of us are just one “thing”, in each and everyone of us exists many “things”.

For instance, I’m good with numbers. I would never be hired as an accountant but if you need someone to tally something up real quick, I’m your guy. If I worked at it for a while, a long while, there is a chance that one day I could become an accountant.

And I wish the same for every single person who ever said to me “I’ve always thought I should be an actor.”

If you think you’re good at it...and if you work at it for a while, a long while, then maybe one day you could...hypothetically speaking, become an actor.

Well, using a similar line of logic is how I ended up here, as an Indigenous Artist in Residence.
I have always been a creator but never fully worked at it with all of my attention and effort. Here was my chance to do so, so I took it.

Thus far, I have jumped into some creative projects I would have never imagined myself being in: Writing a musical about Marilyn Bell, rediscovering the magic of lighting, creating a TV show about an Internet Troll. This residency is about time and people. I’m afforded time I normally couldn’t afford to get creative with people I normally wouldn’t get to be creative with. Thus far I have been really impressed by the minds that walk these halls, young and old. I’m taking away just as much from the students as I am from the educators.

Being a part of these projects has bubbled my creative juices up to the brim of my artistic being, but they are not yet spilling over.

Why not? Because they are holding out, holding out to be used in a project and a context that hits closer to home.

I have one. And I’m excited by it. Because it’s my story. A story that I’ve claimed as my own, rooted in my family and in my people.

The saying “write what you know” rings very true with me. I spent some time self-reflecting and examining why writing Indigenous characters living Indigenous lives turned me on so much. And it is, without a doubt because I am doing it. Nobody else.

There is such immense power in reclamation, more than I realized. The once-muted voices of my ancestors will now persist through me, and through my storytelling. Not just through my body on stage but through everything that body holds, everything that has passed through its blood; every tear, every drum beat, every piece of fried bologna. I will own my stories not just because I don’t think anybody else should, but because for the longest time we couldn’t.

Photo by Trevor Gill