A Reason. A Season. A Lifetime. How Ep11 of Outlander took me back.

It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watched Journeycake for the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.

*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*

As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear.  It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!

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Do what ya can to get you through it!

I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back.  All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly.  The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us.  I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.

I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.

This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode.  The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. The dying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.

That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?

‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented.  Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.

Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper.  No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.

We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.

We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.

With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.

We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.

Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.

Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.

Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).

Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep.  With Bree,  Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired.  Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.

The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within.  Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.

We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.

Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life.  It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.

Don’t worry though, the ones that want to make this seasonal, I am sure you can mute me easy enough. As for the reason I ended up on the other side of your computer screen…that’s all your fault.

Next week lasses and laddies, are ya ready?  I can say loudly – I AM NOT!

Sher xox

Don’t forget to join us for the season finale LIVETWEET event while Canadians tune in on W Network at 7 Pm MT using the hashtags #OutlanderCAN #NeverMyLove

The Answer Within. I heard a few during S5E08 . #Outlander #FamousLastWords

I am becoming a broken record this season with these ‘not a recaps’.  Each episode is completely different from the last but in my view, each has a punch in the gut effect that stays with you long after.  And with that, as the credits rolled on #FamousLastWords, that duet with Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton – COME ON! I found it breathtaking. Each time I watched the episode (4 times, so far) I let it play and sat back to listen.  I have never done that before this episode.

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Nope. Never. Not one time. Zero.

Once again, faced with so many topics to write about. All of them struck cords that I could go on about forEVA but I don’t want to do that. We seem to have nothing but time these days but I’m not going to take advantage of you. Not like that anyway. #winkawinka

There were questions of worth, grief bursts, traumatic flashbacks and worry all wrapped up in the characters we love so dearly.  We were with all of our favourites, in all of the moments we needed to be with them. Whether we were hearing them or observing. The voyeurs in us were on high alert.

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Watching is such sweet sorrow but I…can’t…stop.

We saw once more, words aren’t needed to convey emotion. This time, it was Richard Rankins’s turn. Without a word or a whisper, we felt, deeply, what Roger was experiencing. His eyes, shoulders, neck muscles, brows and the set of his mouth gave us everything we needed to know about what was happening inside his head, heart and rooted within his soul.  The people who love him, Brianna in particular, could see it too. She was especially in tune with what he was going through because she saw herself in him.

While trying to get through to Roger, Brianna brought up how she too, faced darkness and ugliness. I believe this moment was a catharsis for Brianna even though she was attempting to shake something loose in Roger. He still wasn’t in a place to hear her words. The wall he had built around himself was as impenetrable as his voice was stifled.  Brianna though, for all of the times she sat in silence, fighting her demons, keeping them silent and masking the trauma she went through for the sake of others, she let it out. She put it in front of Roger that she is fighting. Every day. For her family and those words were what she needed to hear.  Without realizing it, she was giving herself the advice she craved.  The words Bree had been waiting for were within her, she only needed to say them out loud.  She was directing them towards Roger however when we say things out loud, that is when we finally, truly, catch on. We, more often than not, won’t notice how we self-heal through our love of others.

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Give it…and eat it back up. 

There is one common thread each person on this earth shares. We all will lose someone we love. Sooner or later, it happens. In tandem, others will reach out to comfort us. When our grief is deep, there are no words, actions, cliches or casseroles that help. Making things better is contrary to reason.

Jamie asked Claire if there was a medicine in her time for grief.  Time was as close as she could get, and even that isn’t a cure.  We only get adept at integrating the grief into our everyday.  We also must be honest, as shown in this episode. Grief is not reserved for the dead. We grieve people we lose that have not died but are no longer in our life, whether that is by our choice or theirs. We grieve parts of ourselves that we have lost, due to trauma or illness. Grief changes who we are and that is o.k.

Even though grief is something nearly everyone in this world has in common, it is as unique as each person and the relationship they have with the person/piece of them who/that has died. There may be ‘stages’ of grief but none of us walk them the same or follow the path the way it may be expected.  We may think we know how someone feels but we can’t, not genuinely. We can empathize with their pain but knowing it would mean we know every corner of their heart/mind and that is impossible. Allowing someone their personal grief journey is a gift. Grief heals. Roger was grieving pieces of himself. Ian was grieving his tribe and more, Jamie grieving Murtagh. In the end, Claire was honest with Jamie. Letting him know there was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do. Being a healer, she used the expression that brings her comfort. Time heals all wounds. To a degree of course. Scars are always left behind.

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Literal and figurative, both

This is something we will all find ourselves doing.  The words that bring us the most comfort, we share with others, hoping they have the same effect.

I want to touch on a brief and beautiful moment between Marsali and Young Ian. Marsali came to sit with Ian, speaking to him of their youth in Scotland. She reached out, reminiscing of family, siblings. It appeared that Marsali sensed Ian was moving about, untethered. Like a balloon about to fly away unless someone grabbed hold.  She connected with him by chatting about her jealousy of his bustling Murray family.  Mentioning how he must miss them, grasping at that string to pull him back.  We saw the flicker of light appear in Ian’s eyes as he spoke of his sister Janet and when he admitted he did indeed missed his family.  As Marsali’s pregnancy became more the focus in the conversation, Ian’s heaviness returned. Marsali knows family, her center is love and comfort. She did the best with what she had and I believe the seed she planted did help, a little.

That is why, no matter what we believe someone is going through. It is always good to find a step to sit on with them.  We have moments we wonder “Should I bother?”, “They don’t seem receptive.”  If you think a loved one might be hurting but you have a feeling you may be overstepping, say it – “I may be overstepping, and if I am, I will apologize. Today, I want you to know that I love you, that I am thinking of you and I’d like to hear how you are doing.” Is it always that easy? No, it isn’t. Many things in life aren’t but for those we love, we can take the chance. Marsassy did it.

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And so can we…

Seeing Roger and Ian amid dual struggles was both heartbreaking and became heartwarming. Both men, in very dark places, grappling with their pain to the point of not wanting to face it another day. Neither able to grasp how to move it out of the way. Roger was at what could have been his final moment. Facing the memory of being hanged, blacking out, almost strangled to death and Brianna’s face appeared to him. It wasn’t only Brianna, being his wife, that pulled him from the edge. It was his realization that on his previous brink of death, it was her, his love for her that he was bound to. In living colour with a powerful brightness, he envisioned this woman, whose love never wavered.  A familiar saying comes to mind “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

We often learn lessons at the perfect time and it seems to me this is what happened for Roger and Ian.  They were moving in parallel through much of the episode.  Once it was obvious what Ian’s intentions were, collective hearts were breaking for him and then, Roger comes in for the rescue.  An unlikely hero, given the circumstances. Ian angrily says so when Roger interrupts his plans to end his life.

Roger doesn’t know what Ian’s story is but he knows what matters is that Ian lives. The reason being, he sees Ian in himself and HE wants to live.  When Ian is unsure that he has the strength to carry on, Roger fortifies them both.  He pleads with Ian to pick up his weapon, it doesn’t mean he has to use it, just pick it up to go home with him. One day he will be strong enough to fight again and together it will happen.

This was Roger’s way of gaining strength from his own words, just as Brianna did with him.  We may get turned around and twisted in agony over the things we feel we should do, or have difficulty coping with.  We feel lost and wonder how in the world we’ll make it through another tragedy or manage another day.  Yet, someone we care for will be in that same head-space and we will have this astonishing amount of compassion for them. We will share uplifting stories of times we have pulled ourselves from the depths of despair or regale them with tales to lighten their heart.  What a beautiful thing it would be if we would take that same time and compassion for ourselves when we felt ourselves getting turned around.

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Today is every day. 

It is easier to give advice than it is to take it.  It is especially easier to give it when you see yourself so clearly in the person you are sharing the advice with.  Ian twice had moments of “you are one to talk” in this episode, first with Jamie – when he was trying to get Ian to open up to him.  Ian clapped back with a ‘Hey pal, you and Claire have secrets – back off and let me have my own.’ Point made. Then again with Roger for stopping him from doing exactly what Ian figured he was about to do himself.  The reason I bring this up is I think it’s a great life lesson moment.

When we are giving those bits of advice out to those we care about, it’s often because we see ourselves in them. It’s a good idea to be sure we have followed our own advice.  Being truthful to ourselves is being honest in our actions.  I assure you, if we haven’t, the one we are sharing with, may call our ass out on the carpet.

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Gotta cut the crap, sometimes.

We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen to the advice we share.  Our actions speak loudly about our character. I think we can see that with the characters I spoke of in #FamousLastWords.  You and I, we identify with these characters on this TV show owing to their stories aren’t so different from our own. Sure, their arc is more dramatic on the whole yet, at the heart of it all, the feelings at the core. We get it.

That’s why we keep coming back.

Sher xo

PS – I need to add a note about John Bell coming back. I squealed, jumped out of my chair and was just THRILLED to bits.  I slapped my husband’s leg so many times he was forced to finally say “OK, that is starting to hurt now.” to make me stop.  Where John used to bring us smiles and much-needed levity on screen – we now are seeing the true depth of this young man’s talent.  I am not sure I am ready for it but I am really feckin excited.

Join us Canadians for Live Tweeting with W Network on Sundays at 7 pm MT using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

 

Before and After. Episode 4 of #Outlander and the thoughts that kept me company.

There is so much happening in season 5 of Outlander, it seems each episode flies by so quickly.

Last week hit a whole lot of nerves, as you might have been able to tell.  I spent many years working with victims of violence. I was only a footnote in their worlds yet they all have impacted me beyond words.  My ‘life lens’ focused it’s energy there.

While watching ‘The Company We Keep’ I was able to take a large step back to see it from the stands.  There were so many moving parts in this episode, I found all of them interesting, entertaining and I believe we can appreciate them as story building.

My mental thread was weaving through the characters and their stories.

We are seeing clear lines of their before and after pictures. I suspect we can define our own.

For some, it is a before and after

  • college

  • marriage

  • children

  • the death of a loved one

  • a traumatic event

  • a joyful event

  • physical transformation

You get what I am saying. We have those moments in our lives that define ‘breaks’ in who we once were and who we now are.  We were reminded of those moments numerous times with our Outlander family, both on the ridge and on the road.

I have this feeling that we will be looking at season 5 through the B.B and A.B eye. Before Brownsville and After Brownsville.  There is a very heavy feeling around that town, owned and occupied by the Brown family.  Dank murkiness doesn’t only describe the landscape but the patriarchy taking place there.

Roger became a Captain of the militia at the ridge, however, it was this trip to Brownsville where he discovered what being a Captain truly was. Its Outlander, nothing goes as planned. Roger was put in a position to test his improvisation skills. He didn’t botch the job, he went with what he knew. Whisky and song. 2 thumbs up from me.

As Brownsville is a tipping point for viewers, it is for Roger as well. Apart from the fact he was sent to escort Claire and the twins back to the ridge, it was in Brownsville that Roger became Captain MacKenzie of the Fraser militia. He was shot at, negotiated terms and announced to everyone within earshot HE was Captain MacKenzie. This was it. Remember that time in your life? When you had ‘that moment’. When you stepped up and into a position, you weren’t entirely sure about but once you said it out loud, it was finally real?

Josiah and Kezzie, those boys have obvious before and after pictures.  The before was dark and filled with the pain of neglect and abuse while the after is yet to be seen. We know though, not because of the books, because any life after what they have been through will be better. Especially in the hands of those on Fraser’s Ridge.  Picture having a ‘Family lottery’ and the Fraser’s are the grand prize – yup – Josiah and Kezzie won, big time.  This is most assuredly a case of they deserve this win.

 I will wonder out loud for you. Where do you believe Jamie and Claire’s collective ‘before and after’ is? They do have important ones in their lives, individually and together that have shaped the humans they are now.  I am curious about what YOU think.

In my view, one of Claire and Jamie’s largest before/after pictures is ‘before Bree showed up in the 1700s and after Bree showed up in the 1700’s’.  Their relationship shifted to a new level.  They started seeing one another differently and the dynamics in their relationship varied more than we had seen previously.

I’m interested in your take. I hope you share it in the comments.

We have seen Brianna through some darkness and each week, the looming knowledge of that SunnuvaBonnet is out there. Inching closer. This version of before and after of Bree will not last forever, however, the foreseeable future we have Bree before Bonnet and after. Bree was always determined and filled with a fire that wasn’t easily put out. Those things haven’t changed.  Her ‘after Bonnet’ self is turned up for lack of a better term.  She is hyper-aware of her surroundings, it seems as if she wears part of her inside on the outside. Feel things sharper, sees things in higher contrast and hears in higher pitches.  To those living on the outside of Bree, they seldom seem noticeable, as she is undoubtedly doing her best to keep on the inside. This task of hers is particularly painful. Essentially, the nerves are on the outside while being covered by a sheet of thin muslin that is only protected by her ability to keep it from slipping off.

Those who have suffered a trauma, such as rape, know that the assault itself is different than the post-trauma.  That it goes beyond the physical and the initial emotional damage that was done. Brianna may have worked through some of hers in the time between believing SunnuvaBonnet was dead and finding out he was not.  The latter would be what we call a triggering moment. Triggers are very real and can bring us immediately back to our traumatic event, sometimes causing the process to start all over again. Brianna overhearing Bonnet was still alive builds the real fear is that he will attempt to find her in order to get to Jemmy. We can only hope that Bree shares her anxiety with those who care about her.  I have said it before, just because we can do it alone, doesn’t mean we should. 

I can see many Outlander viewers relating to our ‘after Bree’. Living with the agony of sexual assault in any form can be overwhelming.  We may be comforted while watching, being reminded we aren’t alone. There is also the possibility of being triggered, seeing our own traumas reflected back at us. The only true advice I have is, take care of that piece of who you are. Nurture them. Remind them they deserve kindness, compassion and love.  And then…give it to them.

We all have our ‘before and after’ stories. For some, there are many, lives being in a state of constant change.  Others have that moment that created such a shock it sent them spinning and there is no denying it changed everything. Either way, we become who we are not only as a result of what happens to us but how we process/see/react to it.

It is my hope that we all take the time to cherish who we have become. We are worth it.

Sher x

I still do try to LiveTweet with the W Network 7 pm MST airing of Outlander using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN (missed The Company We Keep) but have high hopes for next weeks, Perpetual Adoration!

 

My chat with Carmen “Wonderfender” Moore! #Outlander AKA Wahkatiiosta

Carmen Moore is one of those actresses that you see a dozen times and think she is a dozen different people. She is like a chameleon, morphing for her roles, not only in appearance but her voice, those small mannerisms that most of us don’t even notice we have.  When I first saw her in Outlander’s Providence, giving Roger a hard time, I was drawn to her. I took note of her name and looked her up on IMDB.  My jaw hit my laptop. I have seen Carmen in many productions and not once did I put it together that she was the same person. (And it’s not just because I’m thick…it’s because she’s magical.)

Magical…talented…for those of you reading this who have only experienced Carmen’s work on Outlander – let me share something with you. She has been nominated and has won numerous awards in Canadian television and film. I’m not just blowing smoke. This isn’t small potato stuff – 9 Nominations and 6 Wins so far! You know, to be exact about it.

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It really is. Props. (source)

I would have been walking around the Outlander set saying “Hey everybody! I’ve won 4 Leo’s and I am a Woman OF Distinction, dontcha know?… Imma big damn deal in Canada eh?” but something I learned about Carmen is she is incredibly down to earth –  with a touch of sass. The girl loves herself some emoji’s and even her signature warns you that she might be up to something  – “sent with love and mischief”.  I’m excited to help you get to know her a little better, I think you are going to like her a lot.

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I know you will (source)

It is an interesting coincidence that Carmen Moore landed a role in this Ronald D. Moore production. She has starred in 2 other shows that Ron created. The Battlestar Galactic web series: The Resistance  and Battlestar Galactica Caprica. She also appeared in the Battlestar Galactica TV Movie: Blood and Chrome.    Worth noting, she has never met Ron Moore and nope, not related either. There, that was our fun fact.

Everyone asks that generic “How did you get started in acting” question, there is a reason for that, it usually is an interesting story.  I wanted to know Carmen’s.   I’ve been “performing” for most of my life, although not professionally. 😂  Mom says I used to stand on the living room footstool at two years old and pretend I was on stage. “Carmen-wonderfender!” was how I introduced myself…to no one in particular! I discovered drama in grade 9 and fell in love with it. I did local theatre in Vancouver for a few years before an agent sitting in the audience of one of my shows approached me and offered to represent me. She started sending me out for tv and film auditions, which hadn’t occurred to me because I was so in love with theatre. I started booking right away and was just in the right place at the right time. It was just after Dances with Wolves was released, and I was basically the only “Native” actress in the city at that time that looked like Disney’s Pocahontas (although, I’ve never considered myself a “Native” actor…I’m just an actor).

Carmen says “right place at the right time”. I think it has a helluva lot to do with talent, those nominations and awards do a lot to back me up.

I found it very interesting that you seemed to break out of that typecasting many Native actor/esses speak about being put into.  Was there something that you did or a conscious effort on your part to make that happen?  YES!! Like I said, I was booking mostly Native roles in the beginning, and I really didn’t want to get stuck in that box. It’s easy for casting directors, especially in Vancouver, to become limited in how they see you, so we need to be responsible to open their minds to us. At one point I thought I wasn’t going to get out of the “buckskin” period pieces so I did the dramatic thing and chopped off all my hair. I went with this cute little bob and started booking cop/detective, lawyer, professional roles. It was risky, but it worked. And, I think I had a bit of an advantage as well because I don’t just look “Native”…I can play just about anything, including Caucasian…just a little more tanned than some! 😁

Do you recall what your reaction was when you heard you landed the role and would be headed to Scotland?    Oh my gosh, I think my heart skipped a beat. 😁  I was sitting in a food court having a terrible meal when I got the call from my agent, so I couldn’t really let out the “whoop” that I was feeling. And I think it took a few days for it to sink in…and even then, it wasn’t really REAL until I landed in Glasgow! It was my first time working outside of Canada…I’ve worked on many American shows, but they were all shot within Canada, so this was a special experience. There is something magical about Scotland. It’s indescribable. It’s a very spiritual place. Best experience of my career thus far.

From the moment your character of Wahkatiiosta came on screen you gave her this essence that spoke ‘strong warrior’. Tell me about that. I fell in love with Wahkatiiosta right from the start…when I auditioned, they were looking for a woman in her 50’s that could tell the Otter Tooth story, and someone to lead the Warriors in to accost Jamie and Claire for the stone. When I booked it I thought, “well this is the oldest I’ve ever portrayed!” 😂

Then I got the scripts and she had been rewritten as “30’s”…and that helped a lot, especially once I saw what they were planning to dress me in….I embraced a more youthful energy and she just got more and more tomboy as I contemplated who this woman is…because she’s not in the books. She was created for the series, so I got to create her in my mind! She is two-spirited, she has very masculine tendencies, but she’s still a woman so much of her strength lies in her emotion. She loves deeply, LOVES her people and would do anything for them, but she wears this invisible armour. It’s all over her.

When I heard Carmen’s take on Wahkatiiosta, I watched both Providence and Man of Worth again, I urge you to do the same. Come back and let me know in the comments if it impacted how you saw her.  I ask you to do this because I am curious if your thoughts match mine. I appreciated Carmen’s portrayal the first few times I watched but after hearing her speak of her creation of the character – I ‘saw’ her and there was a depth I had missed.  It makes me wish we could have the artists who connect with their characters tell us what they feel is at the heart of their performances because I believe it brings us closer to them.

Can you tell me more about Wahkatiiosta? Your speaking voice for her was gravelly and set- it gave me chills- what was your influence for that? I had just spent a couple of days in Montreal before flying to Scotland meeting the director (Sonia Bonspille Boileau) and my co-stars for the Indy feature I shot last summer (Rustic Oracle). They are all Mohawk, and oddly enough I played a Mohawk woman in that film as well. I tried to listen to their accents out on Kanesatake and Kahnawake (First Nations reserves in Quebec) and mimic them as best I could, and Sonia explained how it’s similar to French in some aspects…the “ongh” sounds, like when you say no in French  “non”…it’s somewhat nasal and they speak from the back of the throat. That helped tremendously. My friend Kim from Tyendinaga had translated all my English dialogue for my audition into Mohawk for me. After spending weeks studying our Mohawk lines with our translators and cultural advisors, Wahkatiiosta’s voice just sort of came out that way. Sometimes the characters I portray surprise me as they emerge. It’s like they have a life of their own and Carmen is just the vessel.

And what a badass fighter!  The scenes where you were fighting your Mohawk family to get Roger and his family out of the village may have been visually dark but the fighting scenes were awesome. It really looked like it would be fun to do. Can you tell us about those sequences? I was super excited to do my own stunts for that! I did have a stunt double just in case (Cherie Shot Both Sides was on stand by), but we are quite different body types, so if I had felt uncomfortable doing stunts it would have been obvious it wasn’t me!  But, I was game! Our first take running from the “idiothut” as I’m leading the group was interesting. Our director Stephen (Woolfenden) said during rehearsal “make sure you’re looking back to make sure they’re behind you”…so, first take I did. I looked behind me as I was running, hit a tree stump, or root, or something and down I went! I bailed. I think Sam almost tripped over me! 😂🤣  I wish I had that moment actually…maybe they have it in a blooper reel somewhere…

Watch Carmen get some direction for her badassery with this exclusive BTS video.

The last we saw Wahkatiiosta, she was banished from the Mohawk. To me, this could be an open door for her return to the series.  Since she is a character created for the show with no storyline laid out for her that we are aware of. Would you be open to reprising the role at a later date? OF COURSE, I WOULD!!! I would absolutely LOVE to go back…yes, Scotland is amazing, and it’s always great to be working, blah, blah…but, I really miss everyone I worked with. And Wahkatiiosta is such a joy to portray…I’ve already mentioned she’s my favourite character I’ve ever taken on. So, yeah…I would jump at the chance…

Livin’ the dream. You were able to work with many of Outlanders main cast. Break it down in about a sentence for us what your thoughts were on them.call

I understand many of the actors/esses that joined you on set have worked together before or at least have knowledge of one another, what was it like to be all together across the ocean in this new place, doing what you love with people that you know? Yes…I had a number of friends there. Some I’d known for years, and some that I’d met briefly here and there. That was surreal. To be overseas on this incredible set with familiar faces. And, of course, we all became a little family…I still stay in touch on Facebook with a number of the background and stunt performers because we spent 4 weeks together…some of them had been there for much longer. Gregory Odjig  (who played Satehoronies) said at one point as we’re looking around our incredible Mohawk village, “We’re at work right now…in Scotland…that’s awesome!” 🤣

I have spoken to others that have said good things about Outlanders portrayal of the Native culture but I am interested in your take as you have appeared in many productions. How do you feel Outlander stacked up? I was uber impressed when I went for my wardrobe fitting and the costumers explained how long they had been researching the culture. Most everything was made by hand, and they showed me pictures of the stuff they tried to recreate. They went back as far as they could with what’s been documented, but of course, had to take some artistic liberties here and there for things that are too old to have any records of. They tried to be and were as respectful and accurate as they could be. Our translators/cultural advisors were from Akwesasne and were there to answer any questions we had. Of course, it IS television, it IS make-believe…it is a science-fiction show about TIME-TRAVEL! 😁 So, I had to let my guard down a little here and there and make some concessions. For example, I don’t believe a Mohawk woman would EVER abandon her child for a man 😉Also, Native people don’t speak that fast! I was constantly being told to speed up my dialogue (because they only have 42 minutes for each episode! 🤣) and I really struggled with that because Mohawk words (and, any Native language for that matter) take time to get out properly. So, I felt as though I was speaking in warp speed. I actually have a line that I speak to Tom and I feel like they sped up the tape! 🤣

All in all, they did a VERY good job 💖

Until I can create my own memories in Scotland *insert feel bad for Sherry here*, I live through other peoples adventures. What are some of your fondest memories from your time there? Hahaha…the fondest memory was throwing pillows out our hotel window to the boys below so we could have the most epic pillow fight in George Square! Running through the streets of Glasgow at night, pillows in hand, strange looks from everyone, cast versus background/stunts…there must have been about 40 of us. 🤣😂 It was beautiful. I did a live Facebook video of it all. That, and putting the cones on The Duke of Wellington statue.😉

OK, that looked like a crazy amount of fun. Those are some 3rd level pillow fights!  Click on those links so you can see for yourselves.  If you ask me…when Carmen is left to entertain herself, it seems she gathers up the boys and tells them what’s happening and how they are getting there. I need to mention, I really like her! You can also watch a lovely video she took while on an excursion to Loch Lomond with her friend and co-star Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon) by clicking HERE!

Carmen has an upcoming project, Rustic Oracle. MMIWG (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls) has been a plague in our country that has largely gone ignored because of the systematic racism our First Nation population faces. I asked Carmen to share a little about her involvement in this movie.  Rustic Oracle was filmed last summer in Oka and Kanesatake. It’s finished and is being submitted to film festivals at the moment, with a theatrical release scheduled for later this year. I haven’t seen it yet but spoke to Sonia recently and she’s very excited to share it. 💕

It’s set in the mid-‘90’s, 6 years after the Oka crisis so there’s still a LOT of tension between Mohawk and non-native. Written and directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau, it’s the story of a single mother (me)  searching for her missing teenage daughter, but told through the eyes of the 8-year-old sister (the amazing Lake Delisle). I jumped at the chance to shed a little more light on this epidemic in Canada and the US, that not enough has been done about. It’s not going to be an easy one to watch, that’s for sure…but, so SO important.

I think saying I am looking forward to seeing it would sound flippant. I certainly am intrigued.  Facing these truths is uncomfortable, especially for us not living in the communities affected. We stand on the outside, looking in. Very often, judging something or someone we know very little about. What do you feel, we as a society can do to improve our relationship with our first nations cousins? We assign ourselves proud when they perform in productions we love, yet we pay little attention to the troubles here on our doorstep. I believe listening to those who know is the first step. What can we do? That is a BIG, BIG question…that I don’t think anyone has an easy answer to. There is so much to be done in regards to reconciliation with the First Peoples of Turtle Island. It doesn’t help that this country’s racism is still so hidden and dismissed as non-existent…and further to that, we have a Prime Minister who used the mask of solidarity with First Nations to get elected but its now spitting in our faces. 

They love the celebrities, but shoot the troubled  Native youths in the head and call it “defending my property”, they claim that the culture is so beautiful, but let our dead sisters murderer go free…they steal our babies because Native children are worth more in the foster care system…they talk about sustainable energy, and let’s get rid of plastic straws because that will make such a difference, but they judge our people for blocking the pipelines trying to go through Native land, because…you know…economy…why is it always NATIVE land the pipelines are crossing? Because they wouldn’t DARE put non-natives at risk like that…

Wow…I just went on a rant…what’s the answer to all of this? Maybe acknowledgment is the first step.

When we read a message like the one Carmen shared with us here and feel shame, sadness, anger or yes, maybe even offence, that should be a sign to us. A sign that says we need to get on the right side of this.  I am grateful that she spoke the hard truth. This isn’t a simple political issue, it is a human one.

That is why I will continue to listen as long as those like Carmen, continue to talk. We need to learn because it is the only way we will grow. Be an ally.

That got pretty deep so – from one extreme to another. I end my interviews with pure silliness. Why? Because I’m a bit of a goober and after heavy stuff, I think levity is a good thing.

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It’s called balance (source)

Carmen, as a Canadian you get the upper hand because you probably know what these Alberta goodies are but here we go anyway.

We, the ABOotlanders, have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course, tell us which one catches your fancy?

A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn

What the heck???! 🤣😂  I’m going to McDonald’s… I LOVE THIS, the first time anyone has ever demanded an early checkout. This woman is my kinda people.  Definitely not prairie oysters…I’m not a big beaver tail fan…moose droppings I could probably indulge in…I’ve never had Taber corn, and I love corn…so, I’d probably go with that 😉

It was so great getting to know Carmen. She is one of those people you want to sit down, have a great meal with but know your food is going to get cold because you are too busy talking and laughing.

I am very much looking forward to seeing her upcoming projects and am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that we see her again on Outlander. #BringBackWahkatiiosta, that could be a thing right?

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More Carmen? Yes, Please. (source)

Until next time,

Sherry (ABOotlander founder)

 

It’s Not About You. My take away from the #OutlanderFinale #ManofWorth.

Funny, the way things happen.  All season I have been happily live-tweeting our #OutlanderCAN hashtag each episode as they air on W Network, here in Canada. I then ponder over each episode to try and pull something not so obvious from it.  I have gotten decent feedback most of the time and am pretty proud of what I have done in both departments.

It so happens that during the airing of season 4’s finale, I ended up in the emergency department of my local health center and then whisked to the hospital for testing. What was I thinking about? Well…my imminent death or loss of a limb was first in my mind but I was also thinking about not being there to live tweet.  I’m not even shitting you. I was thinking about that. So I tweeted to apologize and explain why I wouldn’t be there. Like people cared like I did. I mean, come on.

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Really, not. (source)

There is where the “not so obvious” for the season finale popped up for me.  It’s not about you. The season finale wasn’t about me being there to live tweet or not, how important do I think I am anyway? 🙄 There were many instances  I could easily say that to a character during the episode.  I also find it amazing how often this happens in our every day.  We tend to personalize other peoples behaviour, internalize it and make it about ourselves.  We will get it in our heads that other people get up in the morning just to make ‘our‘ day more difficult.  A little FYI, that usually isn’t a thing. Most peoples objective is to do things “for” themselves, not “against” someone else.  This is not to say there is not collateral damage, there always is. That usually isn’t their intent.

The opening title card scene we see two young boys running around playing what they are taught to believe is an innocent child’s game of “Cowboys and Indians.” Watching is a proud Native American man that we later realize is Otter-Tooth because of the gemstone around his neck.  This is not about the children, this is not about the ignorance of the systematic racism that caused us to believe this game wasn’t hurting anyone. This is about the man on the bench, the history of his people being changed and being replaced by society.

Claire, Ian and Jamie make their way into the Mohawk village looking for Roger. They know he is there. All three are trying to wheel and deal to get him back.  Claire ends up with her scarf off and Otter-tooths gemstone exposed.  This causes many in the tribe to gasp in fright and move away. Claire and Jamie’s first reaction is to calm them down, say they mean no harm, they want to help, to trade.  Their immediate first thoughts are about what they can do for them. This isn’t about you Claire. This isn’t even about the tribe. This is about the gemstone. It is about the fear the tribe has for what that gemstone represents.

Murtagh has more than a few “this ain’t about you” buddy moments.  What I found very interesting was it was Ulysses that silently gave him a lesson. Murtagh and Jocasta are discussing Brianna’s impending marriage to LJG. Which, Murtagh is taking very personally.  There was one point when the discussion between Jocasta and Murtagh went from curt to argumentative. We could only see Ulysses’s hands- he went from gently holding them in front of him to loose fists at his side. Signalling protection. When Jocasta decides to leave Murtagh to his food, Ulysses takes her arm and offers Murtagh his assistance but with a very curt manner, the extra eyebrow added all we needed to know in this scene.  Jocasta and Ulysses were letting Murtagh know Brianna’s future…not about you dude.  Little did they know…it wasn’t about them either.

Going back to Otter-tooth for a little bit.  I know people get upset about the story here, about his message of killing all the white people, of the war he wanted to lead in order to save his people. It upsets me too but maybe for different reasons. It upsets me because it would seem like the logical thing to do if I were in his place.  If I were to be 100% honest with myself, which is not an easy task in any event, what he was saying would be the most effective way to save his people.  It’s brutal and it is ugly, so is what the Native Americans and First Nations people of North America went through because of colonization. So, for this one. It’s not about you. Or me. Or any of the people Otter-tooth wanted to save his people and his history from. It was about the Mohawk and what they ultimately went through.

We finally get to Roger. Finally. Naturally, there is this crazy “no take-backsies” going on but since trading seems to be the currency in all things, even peopley things, Jamie offers himself up.  Young Ian goes to work something out, in this, he thinks he is a better deal than the old gingersnap.  Jamie is caught off guard, assumes he will rescue Ian away or Young Ian will escape when Ian shuts him down.  This isn’t about you Uncle Jamie.  Young Ian swore to the Mohawk, he gave them his word.  He would stay with them, in return, Roger could go with Jamie and Claire, back to Brianna. Sweet Young Ian was taking responsibility for his actions as well as making a choice for his future. One that didn’t have anything to do with anyone else.  Sometimes the choices others make can hurt us but they aren’t making them ‘to‘ hurt us.  We have to be aware of that.

So, off goes Roger with Claire and Jamie.  The first opportunity he gets to put a beating on Jamie, he takes it.  I don’t blame him in the least. Apparently, neither does Jamie.  Claire tries to stop him but Jamie knows, this is what Roger needs right now.  I believe Jamie also wants Roger to let loose on him.  His form of penance so to speak.  In a way, Jamie is making Roger’s rage about him in order to rid himself of some of the guilt he feels over what he has done. Error in judgement or not, he owns it, as he should.

When Roger doesn’t go back with them to River Run right away, I don’t think it about the news that Brianna’s baby is possibly Bonnet’s.  I think it is more about staying in the past. This has never been the plan.  This is a new thing.  It not just about Roger and Bree and their future anymore. It is about being a family in a completely different time. It is about living in a family with a man that damn near beat you to death and sold you to the Mohawk.  It’s about living in a time when your wife was raped.  This is a dangerous world and making the choice to live there.  Making a choice like that without taking a moment to think would be doing a disservice to yourself and to the one you love. Not to mention all the people that will end up in your life as you move forward. This is a case of it’s not just about you.

Brianna was the one that was the victim of so much “It’s not about you” that it was painful to watch.  Only because she did personalize so much of it.  I was thankful that the birthing scene was Bree focused. It showed her strength, tenacity, ability and her dedication to doing this thing on her own when everything came down to it.  Yes, she had her aunt there, her friends but ultimately, giving birth is about a mother and her child. There is no need a secondary narrative to focus on there. When Bree held her son for the first time, this story became about him now. That was her choice. Her love for him shone through.

When Claire and Jamie arrived back at River Run without Roger, the look that came over Bree’s face when she realized he wasn’t with them was pure heartache. It wasn’t about her but we all do what Bree did. She was personalizing Roger not coming back. Very likely creating a story in her head to match the pain she was feeling. It is such a common mechanism for us humans and so often our imaginations don’t match the reality. We replay other peoples choices like we have control over them. It is this weird dance we do. If I had done a, b or c.  Only, it doesn’t work like that because they will always make the choices they want to no matter what we do. Roger does return to her though, as I knew he would. He returns to claim her as his wife and the baby as his son.  It isn’t about any one person, it becomes about them as a family.

As Red Coats come riding up to River Run everyone assumes they are after Murtagh because he is, after all, the local fugitive in hiding. Jocasta and Murtagh share a little tête-à-tête that both Claire and Jamie witness and share their WTF faces. It’s ok guys, THIS little love affair…isn’t about you, so step off.  Aunty Jo is getting herself some Silver Foxtail on the side and won’t be listening to any of your nonsense about it.

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Daactualfuq?

Last and certainly not least is the not so love letter from Governor Tryon. Jamie is expected to follow his beck and call.  In this case, that means whippin’ up a militia and hunting down and killing Murtagh.

Well, Tryon, I know he likes to think everyone is just clamouring to serve him and his brilliant red coat wearing English army but here is the thing, they aren’t. No matter what Jamie’s obligation is to him we know that Jamie’s first obligation is to his family. It always has been and will be. Gov. Tryon happens to think this whole Regulator thing is me against them. That is where he is wrong. The Regulators have said from the start, they are more than willing to pay taxes, they are not willing to pay for the elites shitty castles and corruption. Plain as day, Gov. Tryon. Not. About. You. It’s about the people he is supposed to be helping.  If he were to take the same amount of time he takes to fight them and listen to them instead, he might learn from them.  Even this shows us we often make up our minds because we feel attacked when someone disagrees with us.  Instead of listening we react. So much can be lost when all of that noise is happening.

Imagine. 13 weeks of Outlander is already gone. POOF!  I absolutely loved this season.  Every episode I enjoyed for different reasons and I was able to learn a little something in the hidden corners that helped me realize the writers, directors, cast and crew give so much to it.  Still, Outlander isn’t about me.

It’s about so many people.  Too many people to ever keep track of or make happy and that’s o.k. too. Want to know why? That is what makes life interesting. We can have animated conversations. We can discuss what we love, what we don’t and the things we missed and maybe why we think things were done the way they were.  What I think the secret might be is respecting one another’s views and opinions as just that. Personal opinions based on personal experiences. They don’t have to assume someone else’s intent or be presented as facts. We can have fun with it because when it comes down to it, this thing called Outlander is a TV show that is created for our entertainment. It is supposed to bring up emotions. All of them. That is what makes great TV.

I’m not going to stop blogging over #Droughtlander, granted, I probably won’t do one once a week. I hope that we can keep each other company, stay engaged and not lose focus of what brought us together in the first place. A great story.

Sher (Founder of the #ABOotlanders)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking to Sera-Lys McArthur about Johiehon, Outlander and MUCH more…

Providence, episode 12 of #Outlander is receiving praise across the fandom. Sera-Lys is the extraordinarily talented and beautiful First Nations actress who played Johiehon, the Mohawk woman who fell in love with and had a child with the priest, Father Alexandre Ferigault.  I spoke to many people about Sera-Lys‘s performance and each one was impacted in some way by her portrayal.  It made me want to know more.

 

We all know I’m a Canadian, I talk about that on the regular. The actor’s Outlander auditioned for the Mohawk and Cherokee this season were chosen from First Nation actors in Canada. I found many have familiar faces from our television landscape.  When Sera-Lys popped up on the screen I had a “Hey! I know her moment!”  Only because I had watched her on a show called Arctic Air. Not because I actually ‘know’ her. Since we are both Canadian, I felt confident enough to reach out to her.

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It probably shouldn’t, but this is me. (source)

It is with no surprise that I can share with you, she is 100% delightful, 110% smarter than I am and yes, I think we are best friends (don’t tell her, she may not answer any more of my DM’s)

So without further Sherry babbling, please enjoy my “Interview with Sera-Lys”

I understand you grew up in Saskatchewan and were fairly young when you started acting. Now, many reading this might not understand my asking but how did that happen for you? (Saskatchewan isn’t really known as Canada’s Hollywood)  Haha, oh thank-you! Arctic Air was a big breakout role for me in terms of my Canadian career, it’s nice that people still remember that show. And you’re right, getting a start in acting from Saskatchewan is uncommon. I didn’t ever think that a person could even pursue acting as a career. My neighbour signed up for modelling classes when we were 11, and I wanted to join her. I really enjoyed it, so my mom supported me in signing up with a local agency in Regina. A couple of years later, when I was 13, there was a CBC miniseries coming to town called “Revenge of the Land,” directed by John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent). They were casting the role of a young Metis girl (a word that describes a mixed-blood Indigenous person) and had already cast actress Carmen Moore (She is in Outlander also, her role was introduced this week and continues in next week’s finale) to play the character’s mom. I went to the audition and the director and casting director were instantly impressed at our resemblance. Then they said, “But wait, can she act?” and I did my audition. It was my second audition in my life. I guess I didn’t suck, and they asked me if I had ever acted before. I said I was signed up for a workshop ‘next week.’ They smiled and told me to take the workshop. When I was at the workshop, they called my acting teacher and I was informed that I had got the role. It was very surreal! Needless to say, I loved the experience and was “bitten,” as they say. I continued to study Musical Theatre and Acting and audition throughout high school and later, in post-secondary education.

Where is home for you now? As a First Nations person and actor, I have the ability to “live, work and cross the border freely as [I] choose” thanks to the “J Treaty.” I really see Acting as my home, and wherever it leads me. I will always have roots in Saskatchewan and that is still where my family lives. Lately, I split my time between New York City and Toronto.

As a young Canadian woman, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career thus far? Historically, there are not a lot of substantial roles for women in general, less for women of Colour, even less for Indigenous women, and even then, we often lose these roles to non-Indigenous actors. This is because it’s a catch 22 in the industry: An actor has to have proven their ability to green light an X-million dollar production, but no Indigenous actors have ever done this, so investors find us to be too risky to cast. Sometimes they rewrite Indigenous roles and change their ethnicity to suit an A-lister that will attract more investors. It can be very frustrating. But I am happy to confirm reports that this is finally changing in our industry. The amount of opportunities for everyone seems to be growing, and so those of us who have been waiting and working on our skills all these years are finally getting a chance to show what we can do. Outlander 412 “Providence” was definitely one of those opportunities!

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Sera-Lys on the Outlander set with her costars

I see you have worked on a few projects with women at the helm, as we are in a (much needed) time of change in the industry, how do you find this is impacting you? For one thing, it has been the status quo for so long, that it was an important dynamic for me to learn how to negotiate. I get along with most men, I have many platonic male friends. I choose to connect with human beings, not genders. Now, of course, I have noticed an inequity and it does bother me. But it is important to create allies, not otherness. I have had excellent experiences working with male directors, and equally as wonderful experiences with female directors. I feel blessed to be able to collaborate with all of them and I am hopeful that more and more women and minorities will be given a chance to helm large-scale projects. 

Did you audition for the role of Johiehon specifically and what was the process like for you?  Yes, I did audition for her specifically. I knew the character was supposed to speak Mohawk and French, but the sides were given in English. Like most Canadians, I studied French in school growing up, so that was the easier part. Mohawk is another story! There’s no google translate option for Mohawk! While the casting director said that it wasn’t necessary to translate for the audition, I know from experience that producers almost never cast Indigenous actors for period-dramas from a tape where they speak English. They want to cast someone they know can handle the language challenges that the role demands. So I reached out to my friend Devery Jacobs (Sam in STARZ’s American Gods) who is Mohawk and also was auditioning for the role. She passed along recordings, translations & phonetic transcriptions of the Mohawk lines. I went in for my audition a few days later, and I guess I kinda “nailed it:” one take and done. Then I was “On hold” for over a month. During this time I auditioned for another role on Outlander, the Cherokee translator played by Crystle Lightning. When I got the call from my agent that I had booked Outlander, I had to ask, “which one?” 

I am very grateful to belong to a community of supportive First Nations actors. It’s a rarity in this industry and even this day and age that someone would aid their “competitor.” But I would have done the same. We really want each other to succeed, and we know the best way for us all to experience success is to support one another. 

I know I shouldn’t feel personal pride in the fact the First Nations actors from my home country behave in this manner as the only real thing we have in common is we are from the same country, but damn, this makes me proud.  To know there is such a cohesive unit of actors, working with one another to assure each other’s success knowing it will make the whole stronger in the end.  That’s probably the most empowering thing I have heard in a long time. It makes this screenshot mean a lot more to me.screenshot (2083) (1)

How did you find out you earned the role of Johiehon? My agent Rich Caplan called me while I was on a lunch break from a theatre workshop I was doing with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (in Manhattan). He had called me earlier that day to say that I had booked a role in a Canadian independent feature called Robbery, which is currently doing the festival circuit. It was a pretty awesome day!!

When you read the script for Johiehon’s introduction and demise, what were your thoughts? The introduction I knew from the audition, but the demise was a big surprise! They kept it under wraps from even me until about 2 weeks before my contract in Scotland began. She had a different name than in the books. It definitely explained why it was only a one-episode contract! I was shocked and excited. The second-to-last episode is often the climax of the season in today’s television market. A big fiery, epic ending in this episode was very exciting! I actually portrayed a young Nakota woman who died by fire in another CBC miniseries called The Englishman’s Boy about 11 years ago. So I knew I could perform it well. Still, I had never seen anything quite like the fire and stunt work that I witnessed on Outlander. It was truly amazing!

Truthfully, you had such a little amount of time to endear yourself to the audience, allowing us to feel you had this deep love with Father Alexandre and that Kaheroton was deeply in love with you, and…you did it. More than did it. I was sobbing when you (well, your stunt double) walked into the flames.  What was your reaction when you saw it all put together for the first time? Honestly, I cried too! It was so beautiful. It was so sad and visually stunning. Mairzee Almas, the director, did an amazing job with this scene and episode. It was her idea to put the Adagio For Strings music over the silent slow-motion sequence. In my mind, I compared the epic, emotional moment to The Last of the Mohicans, and it definitely delivered. In today’s industry, an actor rarely gets the opportunity to act in something this grandiose! I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it. I am proud of my work and of the entire team. It’s tremendous.

I have to admit, Providence stands in my top 3 episodes of the whole Series thus far. From start to finish, every extra and every effect, every performance held my attention. 

Richard Rankin is the regular cast member you had scenes with.  He is known as being a very light-hearted guy. How was working with him? It was great! He is very friendly and easy to be around and work with. Poor guy had to be in constant “pain” during our scenes. It also was a very demanding season for him, so I am very impressed with his stamina and commitment. His scenes with Father Alexandre in the “Idiot hut” are truly remarkable and were rewritten right up until filming. He brings an amazing sense of humour to his portrayal. A true professional and a warm-hearted person. I feel lucky to have worked with him. 

I often worry about the portrayal of first nations and indigenous peoples in television and movies. We want the portrayal to be true, respectful and not a caricature. I understand you are a modern woman, not a historian but am interested in knowing, how do you feel Outlander did, as a whole, in regards to portraying the Mohawk/Native culture? They really did a very good job. They went all out in their research. The costumes, hair, make-up and wardrobe were all very specific. And that set! It really transported us there in our minds. They worked with two Mohawk elders from Akwesasne and had them answer questions and do translations and coachings with us. They also gave us a document about Mohawk customs and culture, especially pertaining to what was happening in the scene. For me, the biggest departure from reality is that a Mohawk woman would ever abandon her child and commit suicide to be with her loved one. But it is a fantasy after all. It’s a beautiful story.

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Sera-Lys McArthur with director Mairzee Almas and costars BTS

 It was most certainly a part of the story I always struggled with, but yes, fantasy, love stories, tragedy. They tend to go hand in hand. Speaking of fantasy – I am envious you travelled to Scotland. How long were you there? Tell us a bit about your experiences if you could. I was there for 3 weeks. I was happily able to explore quite a bit. I went to Edinburgh, stayed in Glasgow and near Pitlochry. I went with fellow actress and friend Carmen Moore to Loch Lomond. That was a special experience. After my role was completed, I went on a horse ride in the countryside or a “hack,” as they say in Scotland, with Tannoch Stables. We stayed in a beautiful castle hotel during filming. It was breathtaking. Scottish people, on the whole, are lovely, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I highly recommend going and I hope to return someday soon!

You were surrounded by many other Canadian actors/esses while on set, which must have been interesting. Being in another country but still with people from home. What was that like? It was a surreal and pride-filled experience. There were other people from the Prairies and even an elder who spoke Nakota (my Native ancestral dialect). There were multiple other actors that I had worked with before who reunited there for this production. One of them, Gregory Odjig, looked at me at one moment and said, “We’re at work right now. Halfway around the world, in Scotland. That’s friggin awesome!” And I couldn’t have agreed with the sentiment more. Very special and unique.

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Sera-Lys  with costars and friends Carmen Moore and Tom Jackson Fonab Castle Hotel

What was your biggest take away from your time with the Outlander production?That all the years of struggling and career ups-and-downs were worth it so that I could experience something this amazing. 

I see you have some projects that include writing and producing. Besides acting, what field do you see yourself pursuing more in the future? Acting is my true love. But acting leads me to producing and writing. I want to do them all, but most of the behind-the-scenes work I do is so that I can act in the production myself. I am sure this will continue to evolve. Acting and storytelling are my “Buffalo,” they provide my soul with sustenance, similar to the traditional life of my ancestors when they followed the herds of bison. I will follow them wherever they lead me. 

That is so beautiful. Our First Nation culture carries with it such a powerful spirit. We have so much we can learn.

The issue of MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) in our country is one that was long ignored. The more the loudest voices speak, the more the silenced can be heard.  Can you please tell me more about the project ‘In Spirit’?In Spirit is a very special project. It was written and directed by Tara Beagan and designed by Andy Moro. While we changed the character to a fictitious girl, the original play was based on the murder of Monica Jack. You can look up all of the details available on CBC’s website. 40 years later, they have finally arrested, tried and found a man guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and violently killing this young girl who was days away from celebrating her 13th birthday. It is very emotional and speaks to the core of our community. It illuminates the bigger problem with our society today. I hope we remount it and many more will get to see it. It’s truly riveting. I hope that the conversation continues and we work together to stop this senseless violence. Native women have been too easy to prey upon. Native people are victim to systemic violence, racism and erasure by historical and modern society. This has to change. We have to talk about it more and more. And if we could please stop objectifying our women in so-called “sexy Indian” costumes, that would be a great place to start.

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If there was a mic- I’d get her to drop it (source)

Do you have any other upcoming projects that you are excited about that we can watch for?  You can currently catch me in Season 2 episode 3 of Friends From College, I have a really fun soccer scene about 8 minutes in. I will be doing a play at Portland Center Stage in Oregon called Crossing Mnisose by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle. That opens in April. Other than that, stay tuned to my social media @seralysmcarthur for announcements.

Once again, your performance in Providence was captivating.  You managed to create a heartbreaking love story within an episode of television that left a fandom bereft. If there is anything else about your experience with this role you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Well, while Yan Tual and I were busy working and dying on pyres and crying for literally days, the other actors and supporting artists were often on break, if it was only filming our close-ups. As I mentioned, the set was impeccable and while much of it was natural, we would randomly find “set dec” hidden amongst the natural world: fake rocks, sticks, mounds, grass, etc.

Richard Rankin, Carmen Moore, Greg Odjig and some of the Mohawk warriors/ stunt actors made hilarious behind-the-scenes videos of knocking Greg over the head and body with these set pieces. The resulting videos were HILARIOUS!! What a fun group of people to work with!

Outlander BTS video Credit goes to Gregory Odjig

Thank you so much for sharing that hilarity with us. It is the perfect way to lead into my the typical ABOotlander closing question for our guests – since you are Canadian, you have an advantage.  The ABOotlanders have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course, tell us which one catches your fancy?
A)Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn

Prairie Oysters. I def gotta try one someday to be truly Canadian! (I do know what they are, lol!)

It truly was a pleasure to have Sera-Lys take the time to invite us into a few corners of her world.  I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you because I enjoyed it A LOT!

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Sera-Lys ROCKS (source)

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders) 

Be sure to live tweet the Finale of Outlander with us while watching on W Network on Jan 27th.

 

 

 

Content of Character- My walk through #Outlander E12 #Providence

Though the episode itself was the most religiously symbolic of any we have seen, this blog won’t be going in that direction. Unless of course, you are like me and your spiritual belief is based on being a decent human. If that is the case, then, you might make some comparisons.

As I have attempted to do from the start of the season, I take this blog to another place.  This time it isn’t hidden, it isn’t a secret and it most assuredly is not masked.  It nearly hits us over the head with many of our beloved cast members and even some we just meet.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller “

We are introduced to a wonderful new cast in this episode, Father Alexandre (played intensely by French actor Yan Tual), Johiehon (played by talented and stunning Canadian actress Sera-Lys McArthur),  the woman he is in love with, Kaheroton (wonderfully portrayed by Canadian actor Braeden Clarke) who is also in love with Johiehon but her heart belongs to Alexandre, the father of her child.

This trio gave us not only performances that will stick with us, well, forever but they gave us a love story that is rooted in each one’s truth and character.  Father Alexandre made a commitment to God, yet he broke that vow for this woman. Knowing he was damned for that, he accepted it. Yet he refused to damn his child for his perceived sins. He went to his death unaware his love would die with him, though I don’t believe this would have changed his mind. In my eyes, as Johiehon watched Father Alexandre, you could see not only the pain in her eyes but the desolation.  Once Roger ensured his pain had ceased, it was not only an agony but a relief that came over her. Johiehon knew Kaheroton loved her, she knew he would care for her child out of that love. My heart damn near broke in half as she gently placed her child on the ground and walked into the flames.  Knowing, she could not live in a world in which the man she loved was taken in such a way.

Depending on our perspective we can see Johiehon’s strength of character in many ways. I choose to see it in a way of grace. There are choices we feel we can live with and those we feel we can’t.  Who are we to judge what others believe to be their limits?

Kaheroton gave Alexandre many chances to redeem himself to the Mohawk and not face death, yet I believe he always knew what choice the priest would make.  I do think there was a part of him that thought once the priest was gone, he would be able to step in and care for Johiehon and her child.  When she made the choice to join Alexandre in death rather than live without him, Kaheroton saw the mistake he had made.  Instead of Johiehon only being brokenhearted as he had intended, she no longer existed.  These are the lessons we are made to learn with when we bend our character. I am sure Kaheroton never expected it was one he would face. Now, he will see it up close, each day when he looks into the eyes of the child she left behind.  This is sure to be a defining moment in Kaheroton’s life, a fork in the road of his character.

Brianna.  We certainly saw the content of her character shine in the dark dank cell facing off against the sunnuvabitch Bonnet. Understanding completely what her BioDa was saying to her about forgiveness. It wasn’t for anyone but herself, freeing her of the hold this man had on her. Forgiving him would allow her to live her life without the fear and anger that came with the hold he had on her. Not only did she forgive him, but she also had the grace to give what she thought to be a dying man knowledge of his life (possibly) going on in the form of another. All I know is Brianna has about a bonnets full more character than I do. She’s just a better person than I am, and she is pretend.

Lord John, Murtagh, Fergus and Marsali. All of them are high on the truly good people scale. They all have the best of intentions in their choice making.  They knew the consequences of living with the disappointment in themselves simply wasn’t worth it.

We watched Lord John decide his loyalty to Brianna and the Fraser family in general outweighed all other loyalties. Love, family and promises made really do mean more than business and duty.  It most certainly laid out his character for us.

Murtagh, though a leader of the Regulation, he knew leaving a guard to die wasn’t the right thing to do. His pride in being Brianna’s protector was just that, pride. He set those things aside, showing his true self, his character.

Marsali and Fergus,  those two are a true joy to watch. I believe in these two, I believe no matter what, if one wavers, the other will not nudge but push them in the direction they know they need to go. It isn’t a push of defiance, its a push of “LET’S DO THIS!” It’s the kind of push that we know we need.  We are afraid to it alone. Like something is missing and when that other person says it’s right and validates our thoughts, we feel stronger.  That is what Fergus and Marsali are. Each others Jiminy Cricket. Their character feeds one another, much like Johiehon and Father Alexandre but yes, to a much different end.

I don’t want to but I am going to. I am going to talk a little about that sunnuvabitch Bonnet. Here, I discuss lack of character. Psychopaths tend to be without it and he is no different.  Some might be swayed to think that when he hands Brianna the gemstone, that is a glimpse of something deep within him. To that, I say, bullshit. When we show character, it isn’t for ourselves. It is because we can not possibly live with the other decision. Sunnuvabitch Bonnet is all but positive he is going to die. He doesn’t know where this gem will end up so why not have control over that too, right? This man’s lack of character is as obvious as his lack of shampoo.

I think the following quote fits both the man I just finished speaking about and the one I am about to…

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” Abigail Van Buren

One person this season whose has been back and forth quite literally has been Roger.  We have seen him grapple repeatedly with the desire to keep Brianna safe and to be honest with her because sometimes telling people the truth ultimately hurts them.  We have seen him risk his own life to try and save hers.  We have seen him risk his life for the chance she might accept him.  We have seen him beaten, sold, beaten, escape, tortured with the thought of going home to safety, not going home to safety because there was a chance to be with the woman he loved again, to being beaten and captured AGAIN. In all of this, Roger changes.  Or does he? I think Roger, in this episode, tries to convince himself and his new companion, Father Alexandre, that he has changed into someone that needs to care only about himself. Believing caring about others has only has gotten him into this mess in the first place.

Where the truth lies is, Roger has always been this man.  The man that cares, loves and wants to be loved. His character is goodness.  Does it hurt him? Yes. In every way it does.  Would it hurt him more to defy that goodness? Absolutely. It would hurt his soul. When you hurt your soul, you break something that can’t be mended until it is made right.

We saw this struggle for Roger numerous times but none so obvious as when he was at the stones, the physical pain on his face when he thought about going home and leaving Brianna.  He knew he would never be able to live with that agony.  It wasn’t simply about loving her. It was about his character. His right from wrong. Who he truly is.  We saw it and heard it again, in technicolour, as he was running away from his captors and the tortured cry of Father Alexandre.  He was verbally trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing by leaving Father Alexandre to the fate he had chosen for himself. The priest knew what he was doing, was a grown man, making an adult choice. Still, Roger being Roger, could not live with the knowledge that this man would possibly live for days in agony.  Not knowing if or what he could do to help him, only that he must try. He turned around and went back. Roger was aware he would likely face the same fate.  To Roger, this was more bearable than living with the knowledge that he turned his back and did nothing.

The truth is an inherently good person makes these choices every day, or they live with the pain of making the wrong choice. That voice in our ear, that pit in our stomach, that feeling we get that we should have made another choice – that is the pain I’m talking about.

The bigger the choice the louder the voice, the deeper the pit, the stronger the feeling. We always have the power to reverse the effects of those bad feelings but of course, it is always wise to try and make the right decision in the first place, but you know, life.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”- Kahlil Gibran

There is no doubt in my mind that if we really wanted to use this season as a barometer for our behaviours, the way we treat others and ourselves, we could truly learn a lot.  What it takes is being open and to think critically.  It certainly isn’t easy, especially in real life but it is worth it. Even when it hurts.  Hmmm, maybe especially when it hurts.

Sher (founder of the @ABOotlanders)

Please join us as we livetweet the FINALE while we watch on W Network Sunday, Jan 27th, use the hshtag #OutlanderCAN so we can find you!  Man, I can’t believe it’s over already.