Canadian Screen Award nominees: Joel Oulette and Peter Mooney

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

Today, it’s Joel Oulette, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Trickster; and Peter Mooney, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Burden of Truth.

Joel Oulette, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Trickster

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
I feel more people are streaming and binge watching a lot of TV shows due to this pandemic – hopefully Trickster on CBC Gem is one of them. I have respect for the industry during this time – they are really taking in all the protocols, making sure we are each doing a part and still creating diversified magic.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
It is difficult, with not only the pandemic but also the news surrounding the second season of Trickster. However, things are starting to look a little bit brighter. I am currently in Tkaronto (Toronto) isolating while I try to stay healthy and be fit skateboarding and making my own home gym. I have to admit though, Xbox comes in handy while isolating, also auditioning and studying my script for my next TV family series, Ruby & The Well.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
I feel like it’s taken a small step into the right direction. I feel like there still needs to be work done, to create more jobs and room for Indigenous people, whether it is directing, acting, casting. I would like to see more diversity and inclusivity with not only casting but behind the scenes. The auditions I am doing now are a lot stronger than back in the day, though. I am looking forward to Canadian TV honouring the traditional territories, acknowledging the true history and the stories that have made Canada today, I hope to see more Indigenous youth behind and on the screen. There are over 500 nations in Canada alone.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I am so grateful and humbled for the recognition and for the nomination. It clarifies that the hard work, the perseverance, and commitment is worth it. I wouldn’t be here without my family and many mentors that were on Trickster. My family is the most important thing in my life. I am beyond grateful for them always being on my side and helping push me in the right direction. I seek validation in how I feel about my own work, within my own support system and community. The rest is just a bonus.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Something comfy but something that looks good. I didn’t bring a lot of clothes to Toronto so I’m going to have to start looking online. I’m always wearing my sister’s matriarch necklace, though.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I would probably treat myself and order something nice off DoorDash. There is this nice pizza place called Pi Co. so I’ll probably get like three different kinds with truffle oil. Make some popcorn on the side. Delicious.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
I would have to say my mom. She was the one to get me in my first film when I was five, as an extra playing dead from smallpox in the film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and many more. She was the thrusters to my rocket. She would do anything for her kids, and I have to give my all for her putting me in this industry.

Peter Mooney, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Burden of Truth

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
I don’t know the statistics, but I feel like it’s been a banner year for Canadian TV. In terms of recognition (Schitt’s Creek being the most notable example) and in terms of interest and production. Maybe it’s because our industry is smaller and nimbler than the one to the south, but it felt like we were up and running pretty quickly and, from my experience, safely. There’s so much in flux still while we wait out what is hopefully the last months of this pandemic, but when the dust all settles, I think Canadian production will be better off than before.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Like everyone, I’m ready for it to be over. My daughter just had her second pandemic birthday – there’s so much uneaten cake in the fridge. But I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout. We shot the final season of Burden of Truth, and despite the limitations, managed to tell our best story yet. I am ready for that vaccine, though! I’m one age bracket away and walking around with my sleeve rolled up in anticipation.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
These things come in waves, but we are certainly at a crest now, and I think there’s more to come. There is so much content, and while that might make it difficult for a lot of shows to find a large audience, it gives a platform to so many more voices than before. And, because people can find content that really speaks to them, there’s real passion and engagement from the audience. I feel like there’s real confidence in our stories now. We don’t have to genericize our world – Toronto can be Toronto and not City X, and increasingly Winnipeg can be Winnipeg and Halifax, Halifax – it’s that specificity that draws people in. And it’s a double win. We get to tell our own stories and see ourselves reflected back, but we also get to be a part of this rich world of international television. When I think of what I watched over the last year, it wasn’t only shows from Canada and the U.S., but shows from Ireland and Israel and all over the world. It’s nice to be a small part of that international exchange of storytelling.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
That might be easier to answer if television was a more singular pursuit like painting or distance running, but it’s such a collaborative process that I’m really only the proxy nominee for a whole bunch of people. It’s a performance category, but that performance wouldn’t exist without the writing, editing, or the scene partner (thanks Kristin!). It is validating to see the show recognized, and it does make me think I’m on the right track, in the sense that these things can’t happen without working with great people, and I hope I keep getting the opportunity to do so.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
The top half of the suit I got for last year. Still got the tags on.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I recently moved to Prince Edward County, and one of my favourite breweries, Slake, is just a few fields away. They came out with a killer IPA called Slow Slow, but it sold out almost immediately. Finger’s crossed they’ll have a fresh batch in time for the awards, and if so, that. Maybe some take out from Bermuda or Judy’s BBQ too – win or lose, I plan to take the night off dishes.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
Sherry Bie took over as the artistic director of my old theatre school the year I started. She really eschewed the whole “break one down to build them up” method of teaching, acting in favour of a more holistic and experimental approach. She’s a wonderful woman. Plus, she let me in. I’d decided at the time that if I didn’t get into theatre school, I’d be a painter – and I am a pretty mediocre painter, so I can only imagine how that would have turned out.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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