Interview by Carol Wright | Photographer: Tim Leyes
We got to chat with up-and-coming actor Joshua Odjick about Wildhood, his advice for aspiring actors, and what to expect from his next project The Swarm.
Has performing been a passion of yours from a young age?
Well, I can recall when I was five, I’d imitate characters I’d see on TV, such as Spider-Man, and I’d also imitate people from my community! When I was in my mid-teens, I started training as an actor and very quickly discovered how much I love creating characters and telling stories. It’s definitely been a passion of mine ever since.
Tell our readers about Wildhood. What drew you to the project?
Wildhood is a coming-of-age story that follows two brothers who try to find the mother of Link, a two-spirit Mi’kmaw. He also escapes the abuse of his white father. Link meets a two-spirit Mi’kmaw Powwow dancer who helps him and his brother on their journey. This film is a story of discovery and identity. What drew me to the project was the beautifully written story that I believed needed to be told, not only for the world to see but especially to honour the Mi’kmaw people. My character, Pasmay, is a lone wolf just like me.
Did you and your co-star Phillip Lewitski do anything in particular off-screen to create chemistry that would translate on-screen?
Phillip and I spent two weeks in 10-16 hr/day rehearsals before the start of filming; we would go over each scene and write down notes and ideas for the characters’ chemistry, relationship and backstory. Certain scenes were very emotional so we’d work on being present, honest, and transparent with each other in order to give authenticity and vulnerability to our characters. We made a pact to be there for each other no matter what and to always have one another’s backs.
Wildhood focuses on identity and heritage. Through filming did you feel more connected to your own roots?
From my experience, indigenous communities and families have different belief systems and teachings. I connected a lot with the elders as they were very similar to the elders in my own community, especially Becky Julian, the elder who played Elsapet. It was her first time acting and in my opinion, she was the most real person in the entire film. I was grateful to work in a different Indigenous language and to hear the different stories of the people, the land, and the animals, from the perspective and wisdom of a Mi’kmaw person.
Your next project is The Swarm. What do you hope viewers take away after watching?
I hope the viewers take into account that we live in a small world and that we need to take care of our planet. Even though it’s a fictional story, The Swarm reflects some of the issues in our world today in terms of climate and the consequences our actions have on our environment and ecosystem. It has diverse characters from across the globe that need to work together to reconcile with nature. In our reality today we face countless crises that require us to cooperate and put aside our differences in order to not only survive but to hopefully evolve.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
The first thing that I recommend to aspiring actors is to get solid training in acting. I’ve learned that my growth as an actor never ends. There’s always something new to investigate and discover. Enjoy the process of learning and creating. Don’t worry about the result, just put in the time – the doors will open to those who work hard and consistently. When I first started, I trained 3-4 times per week, 5 hours per night for two years straight! Stay focused on your dreams and stay positive – negativity drains the battery of creativity! Oh, and don’t look into the camera (unless the director asks you to).