Outlander TV series turning to Sudbury, North Bay for First Nations talent

The producers of the popular British-American TV series Outlander are turning to northeastern Ontario for First Nations background actors for upcoming episodes.

Producer of hit show conducting casting call this weekend in northeastern Ontario

A screen capture of a trailer for the TV series Outlander. Producers for the show are turning to Sudbury and North Bay to cast around 120 First Nations background actors for a future episode. (YouTube/STARZ)

The producers of the popular British-American TV series Outlander are turning to northeastern Ontario for Indigenous talent.

Auditions are planned for this weekend in Sudbury and North Bay to find background talent for upcoming episodes of the historical time-travel series, which airs on Netlix and STARZ.

The TV series is based on the books by Diana Gabaldon.

Producers plan to re-create an 18th Century Indigenous village and are looking for actors to play in non-speaking roles.

The casting call states producers plan is to hire around 120 First Nations background actors and fly them to Scotland for up to four weeks of filming this summer.

Making the rounds

The casting call for North Bay and Sudbury has gone viral on social media.

Facebook is how Lindsay Sarazin heard about the auditions. He's a First Nations filmmaker from North Bay.

He says the auditions are a positive step in the representation of Indigenous people in film.
Lindsay Sarazin is a North Bay filmmaker who will be auditioning this weekend for a background role on the TV series, Outlander. (Supplied photo)

"I think it's really exciting that First Nations people get an opportunity at a really big show," Sarazin said.

Monica Lister, who has her roots in Wikwemikong First Nation, will also be auditioning. She says she is a huge fan of Outlander, but hopes the show's producers will show Indigenous people in a positive way.

"I really hope that the storyline shows us in good light. We don't need any more perpetuating of stereotypes, and we don't need any more bad PR. We get enough of that," Lister said.

Hoping for the best

Sarazin shares those same concerns.

As a filmmaker and occasional actor, who has been involved in numerous productions, he says he often takes it upon himself to speak up when portrayals of Indigenous people and culture are not appropriate.

But when it comes to this weekend's auditions, Sarazin noted he'll tread carefully. As an aspiring performer, he says he needs to be careful.

"I think I'm going to ask about [the portrayal], but it's not really my place as a background actor, or an actor to really inquire about that before a production. It would be a very risky move for me," he said.

"I pick and choose those moments. It's not reckless the way I approach that conversation. But if they're going to do a big show like that with a lot of views, I really hope they have the respectful and proper cultural representation of First Nations people."

Still, Sarazin said he is hopeful this weekend's auditions are part of a wider shift.

"Just think of any John Wayne movie you've ever seen, right? There's a lot of change in the industry...and I think people are very critical now," he said.

"Nowadays, if you're not First Nations and you're playing a First Nations role, people will call you out on that."

Sarazin added the casting call has given a glimmer of light through tough times for Indigenous people in Ontario.

Producers for the series would not comment on the auditions, as the show is in production.

Auditions will be held Saturday in Sudbury at the Clarion Hotel and then on Sunday at the Indigenous Friendship Centre in North Bay.

With files from Benjamin Aubé