LAC LA BICHE - Tina Lameman was recently presented with a Red Nation Award — a recognition that the television and film actress from Beaver Lake Cree Nation says is the equivalent of the Academy Awards for Indigenous actors.
“It’s like the Oscars for Indigenous people in film,” Lameman told Lakeland Today shortly after receiving the Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role award, for her portrayal as Ma-Ma-Oo, an Indigenous grandmother in the 2020 Canadian film Monkey Beach.
The film centres around the mystical and spiritual world of Indigenous culture that surrounds the turmoil of a dysfunctional family living in a Pacific northwest community.
It’s the second award that Lameman has received for her role in the movie which was written by acclaimed Canadian writer Eden Robinson (CBC’s The Trickster). She also received a Best Supporting Actress award for her role from the American Indian Film Festival. She received that award last year, but only received the Red Nation Award a few weeks ago, a year after accepting the honour virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions on a Zoom-conducted ceremony last November.
The delay in receiving the actual award was also affected by the global pandemic as the company who designed the gold figures halted operations due to COVID.
Despite the delays, Lameman says the award is a huge honour.
“To get one for best actress, I can’t even explain the feeling… I know actors who have won throughout the decades, but I never thought I’d be in that group and I’m so happy about it,” she said.
The awards will join her 2008 award from the Alberta Film and Television Award for Best Performance by an Alberta actress for her leading role in the APTN series Mixed Blessings. The series about the relationship between a Ukrainian plumber and his Indigenous wife ran for three seasons and received critical acclaim.
The local actress continues to work in front of the camera with a pre-production product in the works and a recent role in a television series called The Secret History Of: The Wild West.
The opportunity to work on the Monkey Beach movie, an adaptation of Robinson’s 2000 book, was inspiring for Lameman. The book was already significant to her, so to be able to portray a main character — and a character with whom she can relate — was a blessing.
“I knew the book, I own the book. I had it a year after it was printed, so to be a part of the film was amazing to me. I felt so honoured to be a part of it and to play the grandmother which to me, as a grandmother, is extremely special.”
Preparing for the film, that was filmed in and around Kitimat, on the northern coast of British Columbia, on the traditional lands of the Haisla People, was surreal, she says. Working with indigenous people all around her, made the process complete.
Other actors in the movie included Adam Beach, Grace Dove, Nathaniel Arcand and Joel Oulette.
“An entirely native cast and around a 95 per cent native film crew—I have been on film sets where you could have native actors, but the crew was not native… it was like going to a powwow every day on set.”
Lameman credits the success she has received to handwork, and the inspirations and support from family, teachers, her community and other Indigenous actors.
Lameman hopes to inspire locals and other indigenous people of all ages to keep chasing their goals.
“I hope what I do inspires the ones behind me, the younger ones too with whatever goals they have… age doesn’t matter if you want to be an actor, keep going.”
Monkey Beach is available for streaming on Crave. For more information visit www.monkeybeachmovie.com