Actress, writer and director Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs was born in Kahnawake Mohawk First Nation in Quebec. She began acting in the community at a young age and was using a home video camera to make her own films early on. For a time, her life almost took a different path from movies: Jacobs did competitive gymnastics until suffering an injury at age 16, and later studied Correctional Intervention in college.
But in 2013, Jacobs garnered attention for her role in the film Rhymes for Young Ghouls, and received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for the performance. It was during that production, as she struggled to balance school work and shooting the film, that she realised she wanted to be an actor as a career. “Everything clicked,” she said about the experience: “I proved to myself I can do this, and I can’t look back.”
She has written and directed the short film Stolen and is working on her second short, titled Rae. Her acting roles have encompassed television shows such as Mohawk Girls and the crime thriller Cold, and films including the short film The Blanketing and feature filmsThe Sun at Midnight, Another Wolf Cop, The Land of Rock and Gold and South of the Moon, her first feature role. She has also provided video game voice work and notably appeared in the music video for “Sisters” by electronic trio A Tribe Called Red.
Growing up in such a politically-active community as Kahnawake has shaped her passion for Indigenous issues and fueled much of her art. Whatever she was doing, she wanted to help Indigenous people with her work. After a stint in New York in 2014, she realised she wanted to be closer to family and have the freedom to pursue personal interests, so she moved home and set her eyes on writing, directing and producing. She crowdfunded the short film, Stolen, her first as writer/director: She was inspired to make this film by her time working in a Montreal Native women’s shelter, and by the numerous missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, especially the story of murdered Manitoba teen Tina Fontaine.
Being designated one of our RBC Emerging Artists helped to allow Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs to finish post-production on Stolen. REEL CANADA has screened Jacobs’ short film The Blanketing as part of our schools programme and her features Rhymes for Young Ghouls, The Sun at Midnight and The Land of Rock and Gold as part of National Canadian Film Day. Jacobs has appeared via Skype at our school screenings to speak with students about her work and the importance and value of Canadian film. We are thrilled to call her one of our RBC Emerging Artists.
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