While Inuk actor Anna Lambe described acting as a path she never "intended" for herself, her impressive skills landed her a role alongside Jodie Foster in True Detective: Night Country.
"It was a shock to myself even that I kind of ended up in this career path," Lambe told Yahoo Canada.
Lambe's acting career began when she was a 15-year-old high school student in Nunavut.
"There were posters for a workshop happening for a film called The Grizzlies," Lambe explained. "My drama teacher had approached me and she said, 'I think this is something that you might like.'"
"I was so close to backing out and being like, 'Nah, I'm way too anxious. I'm so shy, Not going to do it.' But then my dad had sent me a message and he was like, 'Hey, I'm on my way to pick you up,' and I was like, 'I guess I've got to go.' ... I did the week-long workshop, which had youth from from all over come to learn about different things, like breakdancing and acting, and behind the camera work, because the ultimate goal was that every youth, even if they weren't a part of the movie, ... they will go back to their communities with something that they could share."
By the end of that week, Lambe auditioned for the film and ended up booking the role of Spring. The movie was then shot over the course of six weeks.
"Then heard nothing for three years so I was like, 'OK cool. I have no idea what's happening here. I'm just going to finish high school, I guess,'" Lambe shared. "I was preparing for my first year of university when we got the announcement that Grizzlies would be premiering at [the Toronto International Film Festival], and that kind of set off this whole world."
"Grizzlies did so much more than we could have anticipated, and the way people received it and enjoyed it was a lot more than I think any of us young actors, or first-time actors, expected. I got a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress out of it. But even by that point, I still was just like, alright Grizzlies was a one-time thing and acting was a one-time thing, and that's that."
'I was really grateful to play a mother who recognizes her worth'
Acting, of course wasn't a one-time situation, with Lambe landing roles in other projects, including the series Three Pines, starring Alfred Molina and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.
But when it came to being part of True Detective: Night Country, aside from the legacy of the anthology series, Lambe also really loved the women-centred narrative in the show's fourth season, from showrunner Issa López.
"Past seasons have been male focused, male dominated, and one thing that I really love about this season, ... Issa López ... wrote it as a very, very women-driven show," Lambe said. "It's strong, assertive women [who] know what they want, [who] are strong in their beliefs."
"I was really grateful to play a mother who recognizes her worth and who knows what she wants, and is ambitious, and isn't afraid to say how she feels."
In True Detective: Night Country, set in Alaska, Lambe plays Kayla Prior. Her husband Peter (Finn Bennett) is a rookie detective working under Foster's character Liz Danvers. He also works with his dad Hank (John Hawkes), but they have quite a contentious relationship.
With Peter being Liz's go-to for anything she needs, Kayla is straight up with her husband about how work can't be his entire life, especially because they are raising a child together.
"It was really reflective of my parents' relationship growing up," Lambe shared. "My dad, who was always working, who was just kind of unavailable to us, to the house, and as I've gotten older, I respect it and I understand where he was coming from. He just wanted to provide and make everyone happy.
"When I read the script and I read the character, I saw so much of my mom reflected in this one character. And it was not necessarily eye opening, but it had me deeply empathizing with my mom, and kind of understanding that some of the hardships that we went through when we were younger, what her perspective was, and what she was dealing with at the time. So that really, really drew me into the character and it made it really personal for me."
'The renaissance of Indigenous film and television'
Next on her plate is a recently announced, still-untitled Arctic-set comedy series from Netflix, CBC and APTN. Lambe teased that this is her "dream project" to star in.
"This is a type of show that I've been looking for, I've wanted" Lambe said. "It's filmed in my hometown, it's created by the producers of Grizzlies, which is such a huge full circle moment for me, ... the first big budget comedy to be filmed in Nunavut."
"One thing that I really loved about this role, in particular, was just how messy she can be and how complicated her life is, and how she's not necessarily making the right decisions."
While we don't know much about the series yet, Lambe revealed that her character is very much "somebody that we see so much in our day-to-day-lives," like our mother, aunts and cousins.
"It's something that in Indigenous film, we haven't seen a ton of, and I think there's definitely been huge changes in that, especially with like Reservation Dogs and Rutherford Falls, these are shows that aren't necessarily grounded in a racial trauma, or a trauma that exists specifically within Indigenous spaces," Lambe said. "So to do something that's funny and light hearted, but still rooted in culture and what it means to grow up in the north, is really exciting."
"It is kind of what I personally believe we need in Canadian media. I find, across the board, the Indigenous projects that do get green lit and that get created tend to be content that's rooted in interracial trauma or intergenerational trauma, which is important and incredibly valid. And it's not necessarily that Indigenous creators aren't writing stories that are fun and light hearted, it's just that it seems like for Indigenous storytelling to get green lit in Canada, there needs to be some sort of like educational aspect, which I don't think is fair. ... I'm really excited to be part of the changing of Indigenous content, and the renaissance of Indigenous film and television."