With the adoration and glamour of landing a major role in a film or television program comes years of frustration, callbacks, rejection and stress for almost any actor working in the film industry.
Just ask Kahnawa’kehró:non Canadian Screen Awards nominated actor Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs.
After bursting onto the scene in 2013 as Aila in Jeff Barnaby’s residential schools thriller Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Jacobs ran the gauntlet of auditions, screen tests, interviews and follow ups without landing a part, aside from a supporting role (landed before Rhymes) in Rezolution Pictures dramedy Mohawk Girls.
The hard work, and relentless effort has finally paid off for the 23-year-old.
Scoring a point for all hopefuls with determination and patience, Jacobs at long last ended her drought and nabbed the role of Lia in the Kirsten Carthew adventure/drama The Sun at Midnight.
“The past couple of years have been a struggle for me,” she told The Eastern Door on set in Yellowknife. “There were so many ‘almosts’ for me. That was extremely frustrating and discouraging.”
Carthew was excited to jump at the opportunity to cast the 22-year-old Jacobs.
“I was looking for a collaborator and an actor I could entrust the role of Lia to, someone who I would be curious and excited to see how they would grow and bring life to the character. Devery was it,” said Carthew.
“She has a tremendous screen presence and a solid work ethic and easiness that gave me the confidence she would capture the heart of Lia.”
It is the first of three roles Jacobs has landed this year.
Jacobs got the script from casting director Katie Nolan, and after doing a late-night self-taped audition (aided by a very tired boyfriend Nick Tritton), and Skype meeting with Carthew, while Jacobs was in New York City, Jacobs eventually landed the part.
“I think that long two years of not getting cast in any new projects really made me appreciate this work that I love to do,” said Jacobs. “I’m just filled with so much gratitude to be on this project. We have such a great cast and crew. I’ve been here for just over a week now, and I’m really happy about the work we’ve been putting out. It feels really good to be able to say that again.”
Carthew took 15 years to write the script that is “a tale of perseverance,” she said. “And of sometimes needing to be lost in order to be found.”
The film will be the first time moviegoers will be able to see Jacobs sporting a new look. Those used to Jacobs’ waist length dark hair seen in Rhymes and Mohawk Girls will be in for a surprise.
Lia is a “glam-punk, hipster couture” girl with cropped, bubble-gum pink hair, with Gwich’in heritage. She knows little of her heritage, however, and yearns to reconnect.
“She rocks cropped pink hair better than anyone,” said Carthew.
Jacobs recently upended her image and cut her hair into a chic pixie cut, despite objections of some who thought it would hurt her career options.
“I didn’t cut my hair for any role; I cut it for me,” said Jacobs.
“I’d been admiring this pixie cut for months, but people were telling me that I wouldn’t be cast in Native roles if I chopped it all off. I said, ‘screw it,’ and did it anyway. Low and behold, I just got wind that I’ve been cast in my third new project this year after cutting it, and all the roles are Onkwehón:we.”
Though confirmed, the two upcoming projects remain under wraps and have not been released to the public as of yet.