Everything about Anne with an E, eh?

Anne with an E expands its world with Indigenous characters in Season 3

In Season 2, Anne with an E creator Moira Walley-Beckett introduced black characters into her storylines. In Season 3, she does the same with Indigenous characters.

It’s all been part of Walley-Beckett’s plan to take L.M. Montgomery’s source material and expand it to be both inclusive and historically accurate. In Episode 1—returning Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC—we meet Ka’kwet (played by 12-year-old Kiawenti:io Tarbell, a Mohawk from Akwesasne), an independent, resilient Mi’kmaq girl who befriends Anne. The addition of Tarbell, Brandon Oakes and Dana Jeffrey to the cast further enriches the Anne with an E world and makes it even more enjoyable.

We spoke to Moira Walley-Beckett ahead of Sunday’s return.

Did you always happen to have it in the back of your mind that in the Anne journey you would introduce First Nations characters?
Moira Walley-Beckett: Yes. It was always in the back of my mind for sure. In the same way that I’ve been wanting to diversify L.M. Montgomery’s novels. It was one of my mission statements.

A First Nations man and girl smile into the camera.It’s why I sent Gilbert away on at the end of Season 1. So that the show could expand its horizons and that he could gain a fresh perspective and that I could introduce people of colour and bring someone home. When we talked last year I talked about when we were in our research and discovering The Bog. And that The Bog was a place that is not in any of the history books, but that actually existed in our time period on PEI. So that was a terrible, wonderful goldmine for us and further populated our world with diverse people of colour. I’ve always tried to open up the pages of the book and I have strayed so far from it right out of the gate. The Mi’kmaq people were very much part of the community of Prince Edward Island. And so there is every reason to include them and tell their story.

The first thing that I noticed, aside from the First Nations characters, was the fact that your cast is starting to get taller. 
MWB: I know, it’s unconscionable. I’ve asked them repeatedly to stop and they just won’t heed me.

Does that affect your writing at all? Does that impact on anything with regard to the kids getting older naturally?
MWB: For sure. Yes, it’s inevitable and so it has to affect me. It’s a very interesting experience for me, actually. This is the first time I’ve done a show with kids. And because season after season on a regular series, time is kind of fluid if you need it to be. But working with kids, they’re growing and there’s nothing I can do about it. Their maturation is dictating the story for sure. But again, part of my master plan, I didn’t know that was going to happen. This season is the season where we shed childhood. Last season was the end of childish wonder and this season is the teenage years and stepping into young adulthood.

It’s crazy to see this version of social media where the notes are going up on the wall in Episode 1 and people are letting their intentions be known.
MWB: The take notice board.

A boy looks up from eating, smiling.I’m not sure if I’m ready for the intentions being known to everybody.
MWB: You know, I’m always looking to contemporize this world and make sure that it’s accessible in a meaningful way to our audience. And there is a take notice board in the book and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, that’s just Instagram for the Victorian era.’ I was super excited about that. It’s a very fun platform. We get a lot of mileage out of it.

What was it like having Tracey Deer in the writers’ room? I’m assuming that she was a big part of making sure that the Indigenous storyline stayed true.
MWB: Yes. That is why I hired her. Aside from the fact that she’s an awesome writer and producer. I set out to find an Indigenous female voice to include in my room this season, because writing an Indigenous storyline is, A) so sensitive and B), not my lived experience. It was absolutely essential for me to make sure that I had an Indigenous voice in my room. It’s been wonderful working with Tracey. Just wonderful.

What else can you say about the storylines this year?
MWB: Well, there’s multiple pertaining to the essence of these people, their hearts and the very fabric of their being. I’m sure it may have been stated that Anne goes on a quest this season to search for her identity. She’s looking for her image. She’s looking to discover who she is, where she came from, who she came from. And that scene intertwines with every character’s story, including our new character Ka’kwet who knows her identity all too well and has it taken from her. So there are some very big important things this season that are woven together into the fabric of these episodes.

Anne with an E airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Northwood Entertainment and Canadaland partner to develop Thunder Bay TV series

From a media release:

Northwood Entertainment (ANNE WITH AN E, THE GRIZZLIES) has partnered with the producers of the Canadaland podcast ‘Thunder Bay’ – and together they are developing the podcast into a drama series. Miranda de Pencier’s Northwood Entertainment will co-produce the series alongside Anishinaabe comedian, writer, & podcaster Ryan McMahon, and journalist & Canadaland founder/publisher, Jesse Brown. Executive producers McMahon, Brown, and de Pencier are currently considering showrunners for the series.

Hosted and co-written by McMahon, the serialized, true crime podcast examines the systemic racism, corruption, and crime that runs rampant in Thunder Bay and the factors that make the city amongst the most dangerous for Indigenous youth in the world. THUNDER BAY plans to bring all of these issues to light in a searing and riveting drama series that considers not who killed nine Indigenous high school students, but what killed them. The series begins with an examination of nine deaths and goes on to explore the broader impact of colonialism and racism.

THUNDER BAY executive producers are Miranda de Pencier, Ryan McMahon, and Jesse Brown. Northwood Entertainment and Canadaland will co-produce the series.

Image courtesy of Christopher Wahl.

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Cameras roll on Northwood Entertainment’s third season of the award-winning Anne with an E

From a media release:

Principal photography has commenced on the much anticipated third season (10×60) of CBC and Netflix’s Anne with an E. From Miranda de Pencier’s Northwood Entertainment and Emmy®-winning showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett, Season Three continues the coming-of-age story of Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, an outsider who against all odds, fights for acceptance, for her place in the world, and for love. After an extensive cross-Canada search, Walley-Beckett and de Pencier cast 12-year-old Kiawenti:io Tarbell, a Mohawk from Akwesasne, who portrays Ka’kwet, an independent, resilient Mi’kmaq girl who befriends Anne. The third season airs on CBC and Netflix in 2019.

Returning cast include Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R. H. Thomson, Dalila Bela, Corrine Koslo, Lucas Jade Zumann, Aymeric Jett Montaz, Dalmar Abuzeid, Cara Ricketts, Joanna Douglas, Kyla Matthews, Cory Grüter-Andrew, and Miranda McKeon. Directors Norma Bailey, Paul Fox, Amanda Tapping, and Anne Wheeler return for Season Three as does the entire all-female writing team led by Walley-Beckett (Kathryn Borel, Jr., Shernold Edwards, Amanda Fahey, Naledi Jackson, and Jane Maggs, with the addition of Tracey Deer). New directors this season include Kim Nguyen and Michelle Latimer.

In addition to Kiawenti:io Tarbell and Brandon Oakes (Through Black Spruce; Arctic Air; Saving Hope) new Indigenous cast members include Dana Jeffrey (Heartland; Teenagers). To find the perfect ‘Ka’kwet’, Anne with an E producers and casting team conducted an open-call search across Canada. Two hundred and thirty candidates auditioned in person or via tape, from coast to coast. Shortlisted actors were invited to take part in an acting workshop in Toronto, where the producers and casting team landed on Kiawenti:io Tarbell.

As the world of Avonlea continues to expand, Anne turns 16 – a momentous occasion which cements her desire to discover more about her birth parents and family history. But this new quest isn’t comfortable for everyone, as Matthew and Marilla grapple with the fact that Anne may have a life outside of Green Gables. Meanwhile, the residents of Avonlea interact with a camp of members of the Mi’kmaq nation, causing tensions to rise – and deep bonds to be forged. The future looms large as the kids enter their senior year of school – some prepare for their college entrance exams, while others set their sights on more exotic shores. But first, everyone must survive the perils of romance, friendship, first love, first kisses, and much more. Sebastian and Mary settle into domestic life, while Gilbert dreams big about his future as a doctor. As Anne matures, she’s increasingly forced to grapple with difficult topics — from gender equality to Indigenous rights — and learns that the fight to make the world a better place never ends. As the characters prepare to enter the twentieth century, some continue to look forward while others cling to more traditional ways, but one thing is clear – nothing will ever be the same again.

While Anne with an E continues to honour the foundation of L. M. Montgomery’s novel, this reimagined series explores identity, racism, feminism, friendship, bullying, gender parity, and empowerment through the lens of its fierce, starry-eyed, irrepressible 16-year-old protagonist.

A CBC and Netflix original series, Anne with an E is produced by Northwood Entertainment and created by Moira Walley-Beckett. The executive producers are Miranda de Pencier, Moira Walley-Beckett, Tina Grewal, Debra Hayward, and Alison Owen. Anne with an E is inspired by the timeless Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

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Winners: The 17th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto

From a media release:

ACTRA Toronto is proud to announce the winners of the 17th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto.

Outstanding Performance – Female Voice
Bryn McAuley as Shirley Squirrley in Top Wing, “Shirley’s Sleepover Adventure” (9 Story Media Group)

Outstanding Performance – Male Voice
Mark Little as Dino in Cupcake & Dino: General Services, “My Life in Radio (Stinks!)” (Cupcake and Dinosaur Productions Inc.)

Outstanding Performance – Female
Amybeth McNulty as Anne in Anne with an E, “The Determining Acts of Her Life” (Northwood Anne)

Outstanding Performance – Male
Stephen McHattie
as Gus Power in Crown and Anchor (Crown and Anchor Films)

The Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award went to Schitt’s Creek.

Sketch troupe Women Fully Clothed presented ACTRA Toronto’s 2019 Award of Excellence to Jayne Eastwood.

Matt Birman presented ACTRA Toronto Stunt awards to Rick Parker and Sue Parker.

The 17th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto were presented at a live show and gala tonight at The Carlu. Onstage DJ hey! dw energized the room and Juno award-winning soul singer Sean Jones brought them to tears singing “When I’m Gone” to the In-Memoriam roll. The show was written by Sugith Varughese and directed by David Gale.

This year the voice award was split into Female Voice and Male Voice, giving female voice performers more recognition. President Theresa Tova made note of the change in her remarks, also mentioning the ACTRA Ontario Census results which demonstrated a continued earnings gap for female performers, and the release of a joint bulletin on consent-based interactions in entertainment workplaces.

“The ACTRA Awards in Toronto is our time to shine,” says President Tova. “It’s a great celebration of Canadian talent.”

The 17th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto were sponsored by: DIAMOND: Actra Fraternal Benefit Society. PLATINUM: Bell Media; SAG-AFTRA. GOLD: ACTRA National; CBC; CMPA; Deluxe; IATSE 873; NABET 700-M UNIFOR; United Steelworkers. SILVER: Cavalluzzo LLP; Don Carmody Productions Inc. & Don Carmody Television Inc.; JLL; RBC; Take 5 Productions Inc.; Whizbang Films. BRONZE: Addenda Capital; Creative Arts Savings & Credit Union; Entertainment One; Film + Entertainment Industries, City of Toronto; Directors Guild of Canada (Ontario); Grant Thornton LLP; HUB International; New Real Films; 9 Story Media Group/Brown Bag Films; Rhombus Media; Serendipity Point Films; Thunderbird Entertainment; Universal Promotions; Writers Guild of Canada.

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing more than 15,000 of Canada’s 25,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. As an advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven union that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

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