First Nations people try out for HBO show in Saskatoon

First Nations people from across Saskatchewan auditioned for parts in HBO miniseries, "Lewis and Clark," on Saturday in Saskatoon.

HBO miniseries 'Lewis and Clark' casting roles in Saskatoon

First Nations people from across the province travelled to Saskatoon this weekend to audition for a part on a new HBO show. 

The American television network held a casting call in the city for characters in its upcoming TV miniseries Lewis and Clark.

According to an HBO press release, the episodes will take audiences on the "epic journey of the Corps of Discovery and its captains, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who traverse uncharted territory on a mission to deliver President Jefferson's message of sovereignty."

The script is based on the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose, which the network says "tells the story of America's first contact with the land and native tribes of the country west of the Mississippi River."

The show will begin production this summer and has already generated significant buzz thanks to its Hollywood all-star cast of executive producers whom include Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks.

Saskatoon auditions

CBC spoke with some of the people who came to the casting call in Saskatoon. Read on or flip through the photo gallery above to see what they had to say about the experience.

Rodrick Rabbitskin, 29, Big River First Nation

"When I was a kid I watched Dances with Wolves and there was this one character, his name was Wind In His Hair, and I always wanted to have long hair like that. I never really thought too much about acting until people started telling me I should get in to it."

The 29-year-old from the Big River First Nation said he was fast-tracked to the front of the HBO Saskatoon casting call because he had long hair and could speak Cree.

 Ashraf Ogram, 31, Saskatoon

"I showed up after most of the crowd... they looked at me and kicked me forward to the audition room. That's about it. I have no idea. I don't speak Cree or any other First Nation language and I don't ride horseback, can't shoot a bow, probably could shoot a bow... I have long hair, at least."

Ogram said a part in Lewis and Clark would give him something fun to do this summer. 

Storm Wapass, 9, Thunderchild First Nation

"Nervous, excited ... I think it'd be pretty cool."

Wapass and many of his family members travelled to Saskatoon to try out for a role.

Mona Rabbitskin, 56, Big River First Nation

"Lewis and Clark, those are explorers that first came to this land, exploring the land and all that. My grandparents used to say about these people... people used to be scared of them. I used to hear the stories from the elders, they spoke of them and they were scared of them, they used to hide when they [saw] these people coming out of nowhere."

Rabbitskin said she came to the auditions to support her daughter. However, she said she was pulled to the front of the audition line by an HBO casting agent because of how she looked and the fact she spoke Cree.

 Luke Bintner, 30, Saskatoon

"Technically, you needed to have long hair but I didn't have long hair, so they said 'why are you here?' and I said, because I ride horses. So you go into this room where the stuntman is... I think it went really well because I have been around bison my whole life, and that helped too, because they wanted to know if they could give me a lead rider position. I know how to ride a horse and ride bareback and would be able to cut animals out of the herd."

Bintner said the HBO casting call for Lewis and Clark was a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

Valerie Thomas, 29, Big River First Nation

"It is new for me ... I didn't know what to expect today. If I were to be an extra it would be a story to tell my children, my children's children. My friends, to post about."

Thomas said the casting call has been all anyone from her reserve has been talking about for days.


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