Makwa Sahgaiehcan actor in APTN series episode
- Andréa Ledding | November 09, 2021
Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, an actor and musician from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, made his on-screen debut in Season 2 of the APTN drama series Tribal.
Kytwayhat is excited about the episode, which he says represents a big story for Indigenous people.
In it, his character, Jonas Takosin, a shy but earnest teenager, is hitchhiking home after leaving a railroad blockade protest and is picked up by a passing van. The people in the van include an out-of-work train engineer who tests Jonas' convictions regarding the protest and his heritage. Soon after, Jonas is feared abducted, so the episode focuses on blockades, activism and missing Indigenous peoples.
Kytwayhat has also become involved in a couple of other television productions that have not yet been released. This summer he was supporting lead on a Disney+ feature and was recently cast as a lead in a new series with CBC.
The filmworld has drawn him in and he has co-written a feature-length script exploring colonialism through the lens of three childhood friends battling a mythic beast in rural 1960s Canada.
Kytwayhat was “discovered” while working as a bartender at the Loon Lake golf course a couple years ago.
“Someone came in and said you have a celebrity look,” said Kytwayhat, 23. “He had an audition for an Indigenous character - a couple weeks later I get an email telling me I had an audition for a show Outlander, and I shortlisted for it.”
Kytwayhat’s only acting experience at that time was Grade 10 drama but he had performed as a musician since age 11. He had also received the Arts of Excellence Award at Island Lake School, where he also loved playing volleyball.
As an adult, he was also in a band that played venues in Meadow Lake, Loon Lake and Saskatoon.
He didn’t get the Outlander job, but a year later, he auditioned for Tribal and was offered the role.
“The fact that I'm a rez boy from the reserve, that that can happen, that's what surprised me the most, it could just happen to anyone and it did,” Kytwayhat said.
He loves meeting other actors, hearing about their experiences, and the teamwork that creates screen magic.
“Not just the actors and cast, but the crew, shout-out to the production crew, to make it happen. There’s team work all around, it's just amazing,” he said.
He advises aspiring actors to be patient and to persevere.
"Be humble, don’t let it get to your head,” Kytwayhat adds. “Keep on living, don't stress about what is going to come for tomorrow. Heartbreak is the worst thing, if you put expectations on that one thing, so just live.”
“At this point my goals personally would be to keep building my resume and then being able to come home to share my experiences and more stories - already I have so many stories to tell my family and it's awesome, being able to share that knowledge and travel,” he says, adding that he had only ever flown once, but now he’s a frequent flyer due to acting. “Now I'm always in the air, my ears don't pop anymore so I'm happy about that.”