“A Day in the Life” with Toronto actor and producer Sera-Lys McArthur

Saskatchewan-born screen and stage actress/producer Sera-Lys McArthur is a powerful and dynamic Indigenous artist. Her work has spanned continents and cultural divides. She portrays underrepresented characters with complex issues, often incorporating authentic linguistic dialects/ languages into scripts and dialogue.

She discovered the Nakoda word for Saskatoon Berry while researching her role for The Englishman’s Boy (2008) and it’s since become a favourite nickname for her amongst friends: Weebazoga. Her friends have also noticed how often she is brutally killed on screen and on stage. She has been burned alive, shot, shot while burning, and just about every other horrific death a woman might endure. Not that the characters she plays are weak. Her recent endeavour as the voice behind “Thunderbird” in Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Siege gave Sera-Lys the opportunity to bring to life a powerful female modelled after women from where she actually grew up.

The preparation for her role in Outlander (2018) involved immersing herself in Mohawk vocabulary and refreshing her French. Outlander also gave life to another familiar theme in Sera-Lys’ work: motherhood. While art often imitates life, Sera-Lys is very content being an aunt as she plans her upcoming real-life nuptials, not totally uninspired by a meme created from her work on Arctic Air (2011).

Producing and directing are the next big challenges on Sera-Lys’ plate, and she is off to an excellent start. When she is not making magic for mass entertainment she enjoys attending film festivals, Broadway musicals and catching up with friends in whatever city and/or continent she happens to be working.

-Written by: Betsy Hillstead, best friend

Sera-Lys McArthur
Reconnecting with old friends from Vancouver in Liberty Village, BIPOC actresses making huge strides these days: Marci T. House and Olivia Cheng.

 

Sera-Lys McArthur
With producer/ fiancé David Garegnani on a beautiful sunset evening at the Toronto waterfront.

 

We finally made it to Cabana Pool Bar! With David Garegnani, Olivia Cheng, and Brandon Oakes.

 

With fellow Indigenous actor/activist Jayli Wolf at the Bring our Children Home march in Queen’s Park in Toronto after the discovery of the 215 unmarked graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School.

 

On the rooftop of Soco at the Delta Hotel downtown Toronto while shadowing the director Madison Thomas on an episode of Pretty Hard Cases season 2, reuniting with friend and colleague actor Lorne Cardinal.

 

Obligatory trailer selfie behind-the-scenes of Pretty Hard Cases season 2, somewhere in Etobicoke.

 

Catching up with an old friend on a patio in Leslieville.

 

Sera-Lys McArthur
Bring Our Children Home march on Canada Day at City Hall with fellow Indigenous actor/activist Dana Solomon.

 

Sera-Lys McArthur
A coupla Saskatchewan kids meeting up in Tkaronto: With writer/director Thirza Cuthand in Cabbagetown, presenting her with our Golden Sheaf Award for Best Short Fiction from the Yorkton FIlm Festival, the oldest and longest running film festival in North America.

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Which ‘hood are you in?

Brockton Village/ Little Portugal

What do you do?

I am an actor and a producer, aspiring director and an all-around fun-lover. I practice kung fu, go for jogs, ride horses sometimes, and hang out on patios with friends, where I enjoy talking a lot!

What are you currently working on?

I am a recurring cast member of CBC’s Pretty Hard Cases which is currently filming its second season in and around Toronto. I also had the excellent opportunity to shadow our director for one episode this season. I produced a short film called kwêskosîw (She Whistles) which is an IndigiQueer supernatural thriller that delves into the current issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2Spirit people.

We just had two big North American premieres, one at Outfest in LA and the other at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival. We’ve already won some awards and we’re hoping to garner more before our festival run is through. Catch us next at Seattle Queer Film Festival and Native Spirit UK. Fantasia also saw the world premiere of another Indigenous supernatural thriller in which I have a lead role, the FEATURE film Don’t Say Its Name. It’s the most badass role I’ve ever played in my career to date, and I absolutely loved it!

Where can we find your work?

CBC/ Gem, keep an eye out for my recurring role as Ronnie Maloney on season 3 of Diggstown. While you’re there, you can also check out season 3 of Burden of Truth and the last three episodes of season 1 of Pretty Hard Cases, which is premiering in the US on IMDbTV in September. Get ready for Sgt. Gabrielle Beauchamp to be an even larger part of season 2! Canadian Netflix is the home to Outlander (STARZ), check out season 4 episode 12 “Providence”, and also Friends From College season 2 episode 3. The award-winning book-to-film Monkey Beach is streaming on Crave, which will also be the eventual home for our short film kwêskosîw (She Whistles). Be sure to check out Robbery on Amazon Prime Video. And keep your eyes peeled for Don’t Say Its Name, which might be at a theatre near you before it eventually airs on Superchannel in the new year.