How this young Canadian star went straight from high school to 'making history' on TV

Joel Oulette came ready to “play game” with his “magical, electric” lead role in CBC’s thriller series Trickster.

Joel Oulette came ready to “play game” with his “magical, electric” lead role in CBC's Trickster.

Medicine Hat native Joel Oulette makes his starring television debut in Trickster. (Shane Harvey (Sienna Films))

When 18-year-old Joel Oulette, from Medicine Hat, Alberta, sent a self-taped audition for the leading role of Jared in CBC's new supernatural thriller series, Trickster, he didn't know it would change his life forever.

The Red River Métis (Cumberland House Cree Nation) actor had just finished high school and was going to apply to Home Depot when he got the good news that he was cast in the show. 

"I was blown away," says Oulette. He was flown to Edmonton for his next audition with Crystle Lightning (who plays Jared's mother, Maggie in Trickster).

Oulette says the energy of the audition "just felt right," adding that one of the casting directors teared up during it. Co-creator, showrunner and director of the series, Michelle Latimer, said it was a "no-brainer" when choosing Joel for the role.

You want someone who listens to their cast members and lets you see them — and Joel let me see him from the first day he auditioned- Michelle Latimer, Director of Trickster
Crystle Lightning and Joel Oulette in Trickster (CBC)

An incredible, electric performance

Oulette's performance as Jared, a fresh-faced teenager from Kitimat, B.C. balancing a complicated family life with startling supernatural sightings, was a coming-of-age story for the character and for the actor.

Playing the complex, likeable and responsible character calls for an actor of the same maturity. 

"This was a huge undertaking for him as a 17-year old kid," says Oulette's co-star Kalani Queypo (Wade), who was a mentor to Oulette on set.

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Queypo recalls witnessing a turning point for Joel when they were shooting a scene together. In the second episode, Wade takes Jared away from the busy party to show him his motorcycle in the garage, and the two have an intense, mysterious conversation.

"There was this magical moment you have as an actor where everything slips away, in terms of your reality and awareness of what's going on, and you're completely in the scene," says Queypo. 

"It was incredible, electric. When I process it, it was like his coming of age in this industry, in this particular moment, in this particular scene… and I'll remember that for the rest of my life."


Latimer compared Oulette's work ethic and acting agility during filming to that of a true athlete, which she says she appreciated very much.

"He comes ready to play game," says Latimer. "He is an athlete, he understands how to use his body, how to ground himself physically."

Oulette grew up in the performing arts. His love for acting and dancing started at a young age, and continued to grow through the support of his family. Oulette started acting as extra since the age of five and got his first lead role when his was seven—as a water boy in Perseverance

Being a child actor, Oulette had a strong support network from his family and community. His involvement with arts initiatives like the Sunworks program helped him excel in the performing arts, said Oulette's mother, Laurie Oulettewho continued to motivate and encourage him throughout his childhood.

For Oulette to land the leading role in a new series, it was a little overwhelming for him at first but eventually grew into it with ease. 

"With all the actors' feedback, them helping me through it all, it helped me out," says Oulette. "By the end of it I was really comfortable doing it."

Joel Oulette and Anna Lambe behind the scenes of Trickster (CBC)

Oulette credits Latimer for pushing him on set, and "propelling" him towards the character, while Latimer credits Oulette's "humble, curious and present spirit" for making him a better actor. 

"Here he is, the star of a new TV show coming out on CBC, making history, and yet he's so humble. He brought that to set every day."

Oulette is set to appear in another supernatural mystery (Monkey Beach, based on Eden Robinson's first novel) alongside Adam Beach, later this year.

You can watch the first episode of Trickster on CBC Gem, and tune in for a new episode every Wednesday at 9 p.m. (9:30NT). Follow @TricksterCBC on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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