Where did you grow up and what was your child hood like?
I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I am the oldest of six kids, of a single parent and proud of it. Growing up a Plains Cree, Nehiyaw in the late 70’s – 80’s wasn’t easy, but it sure made us all stronger mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was very different then it is today that’s for sure, there was even more discrimination.
What is your true passion in life?
My true passion in life is what I’m doing, I’m a performer, I sing and the play guitar, I act on a stage and on camera. Performing is my true passion!
When did you first get into film and acting? How did it all happen?
I first started acting in Elementary school plays, which involved singing and dancing. I remember a lot of my friends were “too cool” for it. I ignored them and did it anyway. It led to me to do other things in life, like taking Martial Arts (influenced by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan), joining Air Cadets and even joining a Marching Band, playing a Bugle (basically a trumpet ), yes I can play trumpet. But it wasn’t until I was 19 when I met my Agent, Darryl W. who saw something in me and pursued me to be on his actors roster. I was hooked since. 26 years later here I am still with the same Agent. I’m a consistent and loyal person at heart. I’ve seen many Actors be fickle and have no loyalty. I’m different from most maybe and proud to have my integrity in this matter, meaning I don’t dump everything and everyone for a role that’s offered to me by other agents.
What was your big break in film?
After doing a couple of Industrial/Docu-Dramas I auditioned for a TV series called “North of 60” .
I did three versions of this character named “William McNeil”. I got the role and the rest is history.
What projects have you been a part of in the last two years?
The projects I’ve been part of for the past two years have been, starting singing and playing guitar on stage. So far I’ve been getting gigs here and there. I’m working on writing some original songs because I’ve been covering every song I know and love. One day soon! I directed my first short last year which deals with Murdered and Missing Women and the cause and effect of it on spouse and family. I’m hoping to do the Film Festival circuit this year for it. Also I’ve been involved in a theatre play called “Beneath the Surface”, a play about suicide. We have been touring this at Templeton Secondary School. This play resonates with anyone who sees it, whether they’ve dealt with suicide or not, well written. Most leave with tears in their eyes! I don’t mind dark projects that share a lesson. I can play whatever I need to.
What is your favorite part of being in film?
My favorite part of being in film, is the understanding of what I am specifically doing and how the director wants me to portray certain individuals. Not just getting the point across to the audience halfheartedly. It takes away from the audience’s experience of being in the moment, people can always see fake. As well while acting bringing a character to life and making it believable, I have now ventured into directing and it’s a whole new ball game. I just finished directing a few episodes of a kids science show for APTN called “Coyote Science”! It’s coming soon, it was a great experience for me.
What roles and characters are your favorite to play so far?
My favorite roles and characters to date have been the role of “TONTO” on the MOW for Warner Bros “The Lone Ranger ” starring Chad Michael Murray as Lone Ranger and myself, as Tonto. It was awesome playing an iconic figure for my heritage and a role that Johnny Depp played in later years.
Getting Super Powers on “SMALLVILLE” season 3 and almost killing off SuperBoy. Of course Clark Kent survives and my character “Jeremiah Holdsclaw” goes into a coma. Lots of fun 🙂
Any other TV show or movie I got to ride horses…Love it!
Like “AMERICAN OUTLAWS “…starring Colin Farrell and Nathaniel Arcand 😉
How have you enjoyed being on Heartland for the last 10 seasons?!
My experience on “Heartland ” for the past 10 years has been very memorable on and off-screen. I have a lot of good memories and great experiences being on this CBC hit show. Although my co-workers were mostly animals, as I play a young Veterinarian and I act mainly with the stars Amber and Graham who play Amy and Ty. We always had fun on set, they are good down to earth country folks.
What have you been focusing on most recently?
I’ve been focusing on getting my own TV Series as well as becoming a Director for Film and Television. Taking my music career further as well on my off time of acting would be great to add to my skill sets and is just fun. What ever I put my mind to I tend to accomplish!
Who would you like to work in the next year if you could?
I’d love to start working with more “A” list actors in Hollywood as an actor or director. For my music I’d love to do a duet with “Shakira”!
Haha, ok well some awesome cool Rock n Roller…David Bowie would’ve been my first choice but of course now, I’ll settle for The Rolling Stones haha.
You have started producing your own project tell us more about them?
Yes, I started up a production team and we made a short film last August 2015, on the subject and matter of “Murdered and Missing Women ” from a male perspective.
I’m also a spokesman for it through the Vancouver Policing Service along with Madelaine McCallum, Lorelei Williams and Lillian Howard. There are many others involved.
Also I’ve been involved with a play that deals with suicide. Huge epidemic in our country in the reserves and communities with an alarming rate of suicides. Its called “Beneath the Surface ” written by Jennifer Broseau.
Have you faced challenges being a Plains Cree Nehiyaw, Canadian? Tell us more about your background?
I’m a Plains Cree, Nehiyaw. Yes of course I’ve had many challenges being a “Native” actor, I kind of despise that term. I am just an actor who happens to be Nehiyaw. How I have been made to feel is, I’m either not native enough or I’m too much, for a role. I’ve been told I’m too good-looking to be a native, to me it’s not a compliment, it’s the stupidest remark I’ve ever heard time and time again, and from casting people! To me it’s blatant discrimination. I really don’t respect the stigma’s attached to my culture by people who are ignorant. I would never comment on race to people, I try to be very respectful and quiet and humble, as I was taught. I’ve been through a lot of racism. It feel like it’s difficult being a minority in my own country is all I’ll say.
What was working on an Oscar-winning movie, the Revenant like?
I worked as a Stuntman on “The Revenant “, it was an awesome experience, I learned more skills and met so many great Stuntmen. I’m not big on meeting “A” list actors unless I’m working directly with them, had my chance to meet Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy but I passed it up because I had to go back home and do more work and that’s what’s most important. I was impressed by how much money, time and effort was put in by production and I was very happy to have been a part of such a celebrated project.
Where do you want to see your self in 5 years in your career?
5 years down the road…I see myself in my own Television Series as well I see my music career going well and also be Directing a few Movies and TV Series. Just putting it out there!
What is it really like to be an actor from your view, it’s not as glamorous as people think or is it?
From my point of view and my experience as an actor now for 26 years plus…its been an adventure. Lots of ups and downs. more downs really. It’s not easy but it is my passion and I’m still here and I’m still working so that says a lot.
What is your favorite quote?
A great quote that says it all is, “It’s not a job…its an Adventure ” 🙂
Mahikhan Peyasew Muskwa
Cree for “Wolf Thunder Bear ”
AKA known as Nathaniel Arcand