Tag Archives: Tracey Deer

Award-winning Mohawk Girls to broadcast on CBC beginning June 16

From a media release:

Season 1 of the critically acclaimed, award-winning and much-loved Rezolution Pictures TV series Mohawk Girls  will begin broadcasting on CBC TV on Tuesday, June 16 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT), as part of CBC’s Tuesday night comedy lineup. Following its run, Season 2 will launch Tuesday, August 4 on CBC and CBC Gem, and Seasons 3-5 will be available this fall on the free CBC Gem streaming service. Season 1 is available now on CBC Gem.

Over the course of its 4-year / 5-season run Mohawk Girls  was nominated for multiple Canadian Screen Awards including Best Comedy Series, Best Direction in a Comedy Series, Best Writing in a Comedy Series, and Best Actress in a Comedy Series. The dramedy series that originally aired on APTN from 2014-2017 was embraced by fans across the country, lauded by TV critics, and garnered a devout and diverse following who enthusiastically awaited the start of each season.

Mohawk Girls takes a comedic look at the lives of four modern-day women trying to stay true to their roots while navigating sex, work, love and what it means to be Mohawk in the 21st century. The half-hour dramedy follows these twenty-something women as they begin to forge their own identity within a community embedded with rules and cultural traditions.

The dynamic cast of four leading women includes Jenny Pudavick (Bailey), Brittany LeBorgne (Zoe), Heather White (Caitlin), and Maika Harper (Anna), as well as Canadian film & TV veterans Tantoo Cardinal as Zoe’s mother and Glen Gould as Bailey’s father.

Mohawk Girls was created and executive produced by Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight; Tracey Deer directed the episodes and Cynthia Knight was the head writer and showrunner. The series was produced by Rezolution Pictures’ Catherine Bainbridge, Christina Fon and Linda Ludwick, and executive produced by Catherine Bainbridge, Christina Fon, Linda Ludwick and Ernest Webb.

“We are so thrilled to have CBC air our show! We wanted to create a show that was unique, smart, relevant and empowering and we are so proud we get to relive each moment on television one more time.”
– Cynthia Knight, Series Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Head Writer/Showrunner

This series was my love letter to my community, to my people. It was a celebration of who we are and most importantly our women. I am extremely excited that the show has found a second home on CBC.”- Tracey Deer, Series Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Director

About Rezolution Pictures
Rezolution Pictures is an award-winning production company led by Ernest Webb and Catherine Bainbridge (co-founders and executive producers), Christina Fon (Vice-President and executive producer), and Linda Ludwick (CFO and executive producer). Rezolution is best known for its original and trailblazing productions such as feature documentaries RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, which screened worldwide and won multiple awards at Sundance, Hot Docs, and the Canadian Screen Awards, among others; and Reel Injun, which won multiple Geminis, and a Peabody Award. Rezolution also made its mark in scripted television with Canadian Screen Award-nominated comedy series, Mohawk Girls, which aired for five seasons on APTN, was recently broadcast as part of Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment and will now will now be available on the CBC Gem streaming service. From ground-breaking documentaries to innovative scripted series, Rezolution has helped shape Canada’s film and television industry for the past two decades, working with many of the country’s best new and established talents to create unique content, as well as video game and Virtual Reality content through its sister company Minority Media. An effective mix of production, creative, and executive experience has positioned Rezolution for global success as it turns its focus to developing and producing premium content with international partners.

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Tracey Deer on improving gender balance in Canadian TV and film: “You have to be brave to change things”

After covering the Canadian television industry for five years, I assumed the gender balance was even. I know several female showrunners like Emily Andras (Wynonna Earp), Sarah Dodd (Cardinal: Blackfly Season), Jennica Harper (Jann), Catherine Reitman (Workin’ Moms) and Michelle Lovretta (Killjoys), many female writers and female directors. And, after the CBC announced they would ensure 50 per cent of directors on their projects would be female, I naively thought, “All good.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A recent report by Women in View examined more than 5,000 contracts issued between 2014 and 2017 in television, and between 2015 and 2017 in film. The report has been tracking gender balance in Canada’s film and television industry, and the most recent uncovered some movement toward gender balance since the first study in 2012, but women of colour and Indigenous women remain woefully under-employed.

“There are still gaps and, sadly, it’s women who are making the change,” Women in View’s Board Chair Tracey Deer says. “Women showrunners are hiring women. We need our male colleagues to get on board as well and then I think we’re going to see some massive changes.” Deer, who most recently directed, co-created and co-executive produced Mohawk Girls, believes the industry is slow to change because it has been male-dominated for so long. Add to that the industry is a collaboration—when you find someone you work well with, you’ll hire them again—and it’s an uphill battle for women.

“I don’t fault [men] that,” Deer stresses. “However, it’s complicit, and part of this problem. We need to shake it up, expand our network and not keep working with the same people over and over again.” There is some good news: between 2014 and 2017, there was a jump in women filling 17 per cent of the jobs to 28 per cent. But just 1.81 per cent of contracts went to women of colour, and Indigenous women only .69 per cent.

In 2017, no directing, writing or cinematography roles in television went to Indigenous women. Of the 3,206 television contracts issued during the full four-year period, just 22 went to Indigenous women, and only 12 of 1,637 film contracts. Just .87 per cent of writing roles and 5 per cent of directing jobs went to women of colour.

“There are lots of us out there who are at the calibre that is needed to do the work,” Deer says. “We constantly want to be bringing women up. But to hire women isn’t inherently throwing a bone to women, it’s about doing your own project a greater good by bringing on the different perspective that women, specifically women of colour and Indigenous women. We all bring different perspectives to our work and that makes it richer, not poorer.”

She believes the major change needs to begin at the top, at the broadcast level and the funding agency level, with a mandate to have a certain number of women and men. The people are there, Deer says, and ready to work.

“I talk a lot about people being brave,” she says. “You have to be brave to change things. When it rests just on the individual to do the right thing and be brave, it’s a really scary thing. It has to happen across the board.”

You can find more information and reports on the Women in View website. 

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Mohawk Girls: Prepare for a #BEAST Season 5!

First, before I say anything at all about Mohawk Girls’ Season 4 and the upcoming premiere of Season 5,  I have to say I LOVE LOVE LOVE the press kit pic I used in the feature image for this article. If you recall the premiere season, our ladies were seen walking down the street together, very à la Sex in the City. Now as the fifth and final season is upon us, our Fab Foursome are toasting each other with the sunset off in the distance. They are four ladies who made it through everything life threw at them as the series prepares to close. Even the colours the ladies are wearing remain similar but more mature; refined. And ‘Hat Girl,’ is still ‘Hat Girl.’ Yeap! I am all about the metaphor.

Press kit artwork from Season 1

It has been 335 days since the “PowWow.” OK, I admit it. I had to look it up. And I used one of those handy online calculators to figure it out. But still, for those of us invested in these characters, we finally made it to the beginning of the end of our journey with Bailey (Jenny Pudavick), Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne), Anna (Maika Harper) and Caitlin (Heather White). The fifth and final season of Mohawk Girls premieres Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 8:30 p.m. on APTN. And with only six episodes, you know co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight are going to cram in as much as possible to ensure fans will feel satisfied. So, I thought a quick run-down of where we are now might be in store, just in case you haven’t had time to binge-watch Season 4 in preparation for Season 5.

Season 4 literally faded to credits just as Bailey seized her sparkle and Watio (Jimmy Blais) tackled James (Jeffrey Wetsch). This conscious choice by Bailey will mean lots of challenges for this pairing. She has been down this road before in Season 1 with a brief love affair that proved too much for Jack. This time though, she knows what she is up against. But will this new found love stand the test of Kahnawa:ke, let alone time?

Then there was the surprise by Zoe. She checked herself into rehab for sex addiction. She fully believes that she is sick and twisted. Thinking that she has lost everything she cares most about, including the election for Chief, Zoe felt she had no choice. But we all know Zoe is a very private person; she likes to keep control of her naughty little secrets. So how is therapy going to work for her? Zoe doesn’t open up and counselling is all about just that. She hit rock bottom in Season 4 but will she be able to climb back out in Season 5?

Meanwhile, the end of Season 4 still saw Anna struggling to fit in. Really, for a character that has been through so much, she has not made much headway on her path to self-discovery. Following a one night stand with Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother), she then hopped into bed with Midas (Tanner Novlan) a.k.a. “The Blow Job King” in order to quash Butterhead’s “dead fish story.” But where is this leading? For four seasons we have watched Anna turn herself into a pretzel just to fit in, but she keeps losing a little piece of herself in each incarnation. Will Anna finally stop fighting and realize that to find a place for herself she has to be herself?

And finally Caitlin. In Season 4 we watched Luscious Leon (Dwain Murphy) woo her and treat her with all of the respect she has always deserved. But, the pressures of dating a black man, even the loss of her job at the hair salon, and a full court press by a new and improved Butterhead had Caitlin giving it another go for the team! That sets up lots of potential storylines too: what about Leon? Will Butterhead lapse back to his old ways? Will Caitlin just settle, or will she find her inner Goddess and put Butterhead in his place?

I think that has us all caught up! We are faced with lots of possibilities. After talking to Cynthia Knight the other day, I think it is fair to say we are in for some surprises this season too! For both Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight, this show has been a labour of love, so we can be sure we are in for a #BEAST of a final season!

What do you think is in store for our Fab Foursome this season? Let me know in the comments below!

Mohawk Girls’ season premiere airs Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET/CT/MT on APTN.
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APTN’s Mohawk Girls ending after five seasons

It’s the end of the road for Mohawk Girls. That’s the word from co-creator, co-executive producer and director Tracey Deer, who broke the news to TV, Eh? during a one-on-one interview at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. Deer was part of a panel entitled I Am: A Discussion on the Female Gaze alongside Shoot the Messenger‘s Jennifer Holness, Degrassi‘s Courtney Jane Walker, Odd Squad‘s Robby Hoffman and moderated by Saving Hope‘s Katrina Saville.

“This is our final season,” Deer confirmed. “[Cynthia Knight] and I have always known where we wanted to get these girls, from the three-arc conception of the show, so we’re doing it.”

Filmed and set in Montreal and the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Mohawk Girls stars Brittany LeBorgne as Zoe, Heather White as Caitlin, Maika Harper as Anna and Jennifer Pudavick as Bailey. Pre-production on Season 5 begins next week; the last six episodes were greenlit by APTN two weeks ago.

Mohawk Girls has been nominated for several Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Comedy Series, Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series, Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series and Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Comedic Role for LeBorgne.

What can fans expect from Season 5? Deer was mum on details but did say the series’ final scene makes her cry every time she thinks about it.

“The final scene is going to be traumatic [to film],” Deer admits. “There is an event that is going to take up a lot of the final episode and there is a pool involved.”

Are you upset Mohawk Girls is ending? Do you have a message for the cast and co-creators? Comment below.

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Working It Out Together: Heather White – Rebel with a Cause

Episode 7 of Working It Out Together examines the common literary trope so prevalent in mainstream arts: the Indian Princess/Pocahontas, and the harm that has come to Indigenous women due to the pervasiveness of that stereotype in society today. For centuries the “Indian Princess” has been recognized as an erotic thing, a sexual dream or ideal that exists only for the European white male. The process of colonization reshaped strong beautiful women into the hyper-sexualized noble savage, only to be dominated by all men. Today we witness the harm this archetype has perpetuated with the aid of such movements as “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women”.

This week features the story of Heather White, one of the lead actresses on the popular award winning television show  Mohawk Girls, created and directed by Tracey Deer. However, White is also a High School language arts teacher at Kahnawa:ke Survival School. It is here that she cultivates a safe environment for her students to discuss and challenge how media shapes their concepts of women and beauty. “As actors, our job is constantly to tell the story through someone else’s vision, but as a teacher that is where I get to be myself.”

With her first hand experiences on Mohawk Girls, White is able to teach her students about the extensive work that goes into the manufacturing of media as art, be it television programming, magazines, posters, or film. In this way her students understand that it is “ok when they walk in the world that they walk into one that is real. That it is 100% ok for them to be who they are, to walk this world proud of who they are.”

Earlier this week White discussed with me how her new found celebrity has given her the the platform to make human connections: “It is a great opportunity to tell people ‘this is who I am, this what I do and this is what I think’. To be able to say all of the things that I wish were said to me when I was younger, I think that is the greatest thing for me. There were no trail blazers like me and I grew up not seeing it. I am only now starting to see different women.”

White’s father Sykes Powderface, also featured in this week’s episode, explains the traditional position of women in the community: “Women were the most respected individuals in the community. Without women, there are no more children. You must always take care of the women, that was the first order that was taught to us.”

Michele Audette, Indigenous women’s rights advocate, explains that women had their roles, that men and women knew exactly what they were supposed to do “for the community, for the family, and for them self.” With the men off hunting for months at a time, it was the women who were the leaders in the community. But when the Europeans began to settle “this all changed; spirituality became religion, they changed our language, and they changed our system of our society. ”

When speaking with White, she reflected on what Mohawk Girls is really about, and what it means to women who watch. “Mohawk Girls could have been anything, and that is the most satisfying part of it. But it is not just about us (Indigenous women). There are so many universal themes that bind us (all women) all together and that is a gift in itself.”

 

 

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