Dove says, ‘The show is a lot of work, but it is so rewarding’
Grace Dove, Secwepemc from Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Band), is portraying the Indigenous reporter Roz and co-stars alongside the powerhouse actress Hilary Swank (Eileen Fitzgerald) in the ABC series Alaska Daily.
Alaska Daily is a series that tackles the important topic of MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women)
Dove is well-known for her role as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Indigenous wife in The Revenant as well as the Netflix film How It Ends (2018), alongside Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. She also recently had her directorial debut in the AppleTV short film Kiri and The Girl.
In a Native Viewpoint interview with Dove, she explained the excitement she had working with industry powerhouse Hilary Swank and Irene Bedard, as well as shared her views on the importance of ABC’s addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
According to Dove, “I’ve spent the last few years telling really important stories through films and using my voice for Indigenous peoples to bring awareness. But for this to be on ABC and to be sharing information about the MMIW crisis on network television is so powerful because I really believe that this story is going to be in living rooms where some people might be hearing about this for the very first time.”
Native Viewpoint’s Vincent Schilling:
So you are having fun on the show? It seems like it.
The show is incredible. It’s a lot of work, but it is so rewarding.
As a Native man, I went into this kind of apprehensive, and I’m still waiting for your character Roz to bust out with the white savior comment to come forward. I’m enjoying the snippiness and vehemence you express toward Hillary’s character, Eileen Fitzerald. I feel as though it’s very real. I’m just curious how you feel as an actor doing this part?
I think going into it, I knew that Roz would be facing a lot of controversy and standing up for her people with a lot of responsibility. And especially, having someone come in who’s never been to Alaska and try to take over? I think it creates perfect chemistry. It’s been so much fun. Hillary is so generous in her work. We’ve been having a lot of fun because, between takes, we’re laughing and joking. And then we’re like, ‘Alright, get back to the snappiness and the arguing,’ but, ultimately, as the series progresses, we do want the same thing, and that’s to tell important stories.
And to find some justice for the incredibly horrifying epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. You know, my mouth dropped open positively when at the end of episode one, I saw that ABC posted their supporting MMIW website as well as the red handprint. How do you feel about bringing something like this to the mainstream regarding the exposure it’s lending to the television world and its viewers?
I’ve spent the last few years telling important stories through films while using my voice for Indigenous peoples to bring awareness. For this to be on ABC — and to be sharing information about the MMIW crisis on network television — is so powerful. This story is going to be in living rooms where people are hearing about this for the very first time.
To have a show that is authentically portraying the stories? We have two Alaska Native writers in our (writer’s) room, making sure it’s done right. I’m really grateful that the network and that (writer and director) Tom McCarthy made this possible.
How does it feel working alongside such actors as Hilary Swank and Irene Bedard in just in the first episode?
I feel honored to be working alongside so many incredibly talented people. And with every project I do, I get much better because I have worked with these people of this caliber. I have been saying for a couple of years now that I wanted to get into TV and have it be a regular series so that I can go to work every day, put in the hours and just get better at my craft.
Working alongside Jeff Perry and Hillary Swank has been such a gift because both myself and my character Roz are learning so much and growing constantly. I think that the beautiful thing about this newsroom is that we come from such diverse backgrounds.
There’s a moment where your editor Stanley Cornik (portrayed by Jeff Perry), is talking to you in his office after Eileen has walked out. He says, ‘I know we’re not telling the story the way you need to, but we need you to hold off and use Eileen for your benefit. I’m curious how you felt as your character sitting there, almost being dictated to but with a dose of reality.
I think it’s a good lesson, as a young person, whether it’s in my life or whether it’s Roz at the Alaska Daily, we will always have something new to learn and somewhere to grow. So to never assume I know exactly what to do or what’s right, I can offer my opinions — and I can fight back.
When you are interacting with Irene Bedard, you are an Indigenous woman talking with another Indigenous woman about the troubling topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a real issue. That must be a great feeling to bring such awareness to this issue.
Irene Bedard is such a powerhouse. As we speak off-set, we do talk about MMIW and how this affects us. We’re hoping (more awareness) will come from the show. I’m really hoping to bring awareness about MMIW to people that have never possibly heard of the crisis — so that they are open and can be curious and take action. There are a lot of misperceptions about Indigenous peoples, both in Canada and the United States — that we are a thing of the past. What I really want people to see is how present and modern we are, that we still are here, and this is a fight that we can’t do ourselves. This is a fight for everyone. That’s the only way that we’re going to see change.
That’s excellent, Grace. I want to wish you congratulations. And here we are, a Mohawk journalist doing this interview with you. Everyone is cheering you on from the viewing lines as well as the reporting lines.
Lovely, thank you so much.
Press Announcement from ABC Networks
More on Alaska Daily:
From the mind of Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Alaska Daily stars Hilary Swank as Eileen Fitzgerald, a fiercely talented and award-winning investigative journalist who leaves her high-profile New York life behind after a fall from grace to join a daily metro newspaper in Anchorage on a journey to find both personal and professional redemption.
In addition to Swank, Alaska Daily stars Jeff Perry as Stanley Kornik, Matt Malloy as Bob Young, Meredith Holzman as Claire Muncy, Grace Dove as Rosalind “Roz” Friendly, Pablo Castelblanco as Gabriel Tovar, Ami Park as Yuna Park, and Craig Frank as Austin Teague.
Tom McCarthy is the creator and executive producer. Hilary Swank, Melissa Wells, Bert Salke, Kyle Hopkins (Anchorage Daily News) and Ryan Binkley (Anchorage Daily News) are executive producers on the series.
The pilot episode is written and directed by Tom McCarthy.
For more information, visit www.ABC.com/MMIW.
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the founder and editor of Native Viewpoint. With nearly 20 years of experience as a Native journalist and former member of the White House Press Pool, Vincent works to uplift underrepresented voices in the world of media and beyond. Follow Vincent on YouTube.com/VinceSchilling, on Twitter at @VinceSchilling or on any other of his social media accounts by clicking on any of the icons below.
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