STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers: Creating Space For Joy

May 15, 2023 Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers Season 8 Episode 16
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers: Creating Space For Joy
STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.
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STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers: Creating Space For Joy
May 15, 2023 Season 8 Episode 16
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

Let us know what you enjoy about the show!

Lisa speaks with Award winning Filmmaker/Actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers about what starring as an indigenous woman in the globally acclaimed program "Three Pines"  meant to her and the community that she represents.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers  is a filmmaker and actor. She is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blackfoot Confederacy) as well as Sámi from Norway. She co-wrote and co-directed the narrative feature The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open with Kathleen Hepburn, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2019 and received the Toronto Film Critics Association for best Canadian film which was also nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards; for which she and Hepburn received the awards for best direction and best original screenplay. Her ’ feature-length documentary, GEE-maa-bee-bit-sinKímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, won the 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. She also took home the 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Performance by an actress for her role in Danis Goulet's Night Raiders.  Most recently, she directed three episodes of the new Crave limited series, Little Bird. She also appeared as Sargeant Isabelle Lacoste in the Prime Video series Three Pines.

https://www.elle-maija-tailfeathers.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ellemaijatailfeathers/


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Show Notes Transcript

Let us know what you enjoy about the show!

Lisa speaks with Award winning Filmmaker/Actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers about what starring as an indigenous woman in the globally acclaimed program "Three Pines"  meant to her and the community that she represents.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers  is a filmmaker and actor. She is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blackfoot Confederacy) as well as Sámi from Norway. She co-wrote and co-directed the narrative feature The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open with Kathleen Hepburn, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2019 and received the Toronto Film Critics Association for best Canadian film which was also nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards; for which she and Hepburn received the awards for best direction and best original screenplay. Her ’ feature-length documentary, GEE-maa-bee-bit-sinKímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, won the 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. She also took home the 2022 Canadian Screen Award for Best Lead Performance by an actress for her role in Danis Goulet's Night Raiders.  Most recently, she directed three episodes of the new Crave limited series, Little Bird. She also appeared as Sargeant Isabelle Lacoste in the Prime Video series Three Pines.

https://www.elle-maija-tailfeathers.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ellemaijatailfeathers/


Support the Show.

TAKE YOUR MINDFULNESS & INSIGHTS ONE STEP FURTHER WITH PREMIUM MEDITATIONS

Subscribe to premium content today and have access to bonus episodes worksheets and meditations. Whether you are looking to relax, recenter, reduce stress, increase motivation, fall asleep peacefully or wakeup ready to take on the day, these meditations and visualizations are for you.

You will also have the opportunity to connect directly with me via email to let me know what kind of meditations you are looking for, share your episode insights and suggest guests that you might be interested in hearing from so that I can create content for you!

Subscriptions begin at $3/month and subscribers who choose $10 a month subscription also receive a monthly coaching exercise from my client workbook.

Interested in finding out more about working with Lisa Hopkins?
Visit www.wideopenstages.com
Follow Lisa https://www.instagram.com/wideopenstages/

Lisa Hopkins:

This is the stop time podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Hopkins, and I'm here to engage you in thought provoking motivational conversations around practicing the art of living in the moment. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm excited to dig deep and offer insights into embracing who we are and where we are at. My next guest, starred as Sergeant Isabel Lacoste and the Prime Video Series Three Pines. She is an accomplished award winning filmmaker and actor, a member of the Kenai First Nation Blackfoot Confederacy, as well as Sami from Norway. She co wrote and CO directed the narrative feature the body remembers when the world broke open, with Kathleen Hepburn, which premiered at the 2019 Berlin Hall festival and receive the Toronto Film Critics Association for the best Canadian film, and was also nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards, for which she and Hepburn received the awards for Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay. Her feature full length documentary, the meaning of empathy, won the 2022 Canadian screen award for the best feature of feature length documentary, she also took home the 2022 Canada screen Award for Best Lead Performance by an Actress for her role in Danny glaze night writers. Most recently, she directed three episodes of the new crave limited series, little bird. And she is now here with me to join me in a conversation on stop time. It's with great pleasure that I introduce you all to Ella Maya tailfeathers. Welcome. Are you in Vancouver?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

No, I'm at home on the blood reserve in Alberta. Yeah, I was. I was in New York with my ex husband when the pandemic hit as well. And yeah, and then left, came back to Vancouver. And then my marriage ended and I came home to the reserve. So I live here at home on the Reserve at my mom's house. So currently in my mom's basement.

Lisa Hopkins:

No, that's so interesting to me. Talk to me about that. So many of us have made transitions after the pandemic. Do you feel comfortable talking about that?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Yeah, sure. I mean, to a certain extent, definitely. It's been my life has changed in such drastic ways. Like I think everybody's has, throughout this pandemic. You know, I think as someone who grew up with a fair amount of trauma, like my childhood was very chaotic, and a little bit turbulent. Intergenerational trauma is very real thing. I love my parents very much. And, you know, they did their best, but they, like all indigenous people have inherited this legacy of colonialism and all of the things that it's done to our families and our communities. And so yeah, it was my Yeah, my my childhood, all of those things were a little bit chaotic. And, and I worked a lot growing up, I, I've learned that working is or overworking or being almost addicted to work is a form of it's a trauma response. And it I see it in both my parents and I see it in myself. And so much of my identity has been sort of like centered on work in my career. And so I was just like, I guess from the time I my whole life I've been I've been kind of like a workaholic. You even you know, in elementary school, like I remember staying up till three in the morning to finish a project. You know, I was I was always very committed to getting it done. And I was also I was diagnosed with ADHD not too long ago, which made everything make a lot of sense. As someone who you know, experienced trauma, someone with ADHD, all those things, having to sit with myself and not be able to work like everybody else, or so many people during the pandemic. It was like a very illuminating time for so many reasons. It was very difficult to have to like sit in my shit and kind of sit with my pain and sit with my history and kind of work through it. And yeah, kind of started to really think about what I actually wanted in life. Because I was so like, just kind of one track mind focused on work and very much in love. With my work like I truly love what I do, it brings me at, you know, a deep sense of purpose. But I feel like the pandemic made me realize that undefined like a deeper sense of purpose that isn't fully related to just my work and my career. And so I guess I wasn't really able to work for about a year, like a lot of people. And finally, when I went back on the road to work, I had, you know, this, this after this time of sitting with my stuff, and doing therapy and kind of just starting to think about, you know, what happiness means to me, I started to realize that I really needed to go home to my community here on the blood reserve. In our language, it's it's Ghana, or kind I and I needed to be with my family, I needed to be with my community. I had this kind of like, really enlightening moment, when I was on the road. I was working on a documentary series called Thunder Bay, and we made a pit stop at the Eagle Lake pow, which is in northern Ontario. And I've never seen a tarot card reader at a power hour before, but there was, there was a tarot card reader at this power out. And at the time, I was kind of like getting a little bit obsessed with astrology. And, and, you know, tarot and all of that. So I sat down with this man, and there was just something really like, special about him something that just felt a little bit otherworldly. And I think that we often feel that around people who are a little bit more like spiritually in touch. And so, he did a reading for me, and he asked me, you know, he asked me a question that no one had ever really asked me before and a question I'd really never thought about. And that was, what kind of elder Do you want to be? And I was like, Oh, my God, I'm gonna be an elder someday. Like, what does that even mean? And what kind of life do I want when I am an elder, because in our communities, and indigenous communities, elders are some of our most prized community members. They're the people we value in every way. And we treat them with the utmost respect. And, and so I thought about it, and I thought about the future that I wanted. And I realized that I wanted to be at home, on the land in my community, was a lot of happy grandchildren. And I was like, that sounds like so simple, but also so far out of reach at that moment. And so I just, I realized that I needed to start making some changes in my life. One was leaving Vancouver. And another was, was, you know, it resulted in the end of the end of my marriage, and we were meant to just not be together anymore. Anyway. And so yeah, it's been a massive transition, sort of joining the pandemic divorce club.

Lisa Hopkins:

Not really a thing.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

It is, it's a thing. You know, what I've realized there's so many people getting divorces. And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. You know, I think life is too short to be in situations that sometimes just aren't meant to be, you know, I think we really need to value our happiness and we really need to value peace. And you know, you can try and fix something. But if if it if it's beyond repair, then it's time to move on and, and find peace alone. And so yeah, I moved home. And here I am, in my community, I'm living at my mom's, which is kind of funny. It's like living with myself 25 years in the future. And my grandmother lives right next door. So I go and see her every day, multiple times a day for coffee and just visit and we have dinner together all the time. And, you know, it's it's honestly the most grounding thing to be here in my community, with my family. It truly feels like I'm like living a dream. And I'm so grateful that, you know, the pandemic was such a, an is such a difficult thing, and we've lost a lot of loved ones. In this time. Everyone has experienced deep hardship, but I'm honestly grateful for that hardship because it puts so much into perspective. And I feel like I'm on the path I'm meant to be on right now.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, absolutely. Thank you for sharing that. Talk to me a little bit about more about your, your legacy you talked about in your personal life, and I heard you say that family obviously is a massive value and is that there obviously is a legacy in your culture as well, or cultures, which is inherent in you, right? That that you're honoring in your work, which is, which is a beautiful thing. Talk to me about your legacy as an artist. I'm curious about that.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Wow, I don't know how to answer that, um, you know, I guess I just, I just kind of always revert back to not revert back to but, you know, think about my family in everything I do. I think it's, it's so remarkable that my community is, is still here that my people are still here that our language is still alive, that our ceremonies are still alive. I think it's just so remarkable that my grandparents survived everything they did, and that we're still here in one piece. I just have the utmost respect and love for my family and my community. And so, in terms of my work, everything that I create, is, in some ways, honoring them and their legacy. And just the fact that I'm I'm here because of them, you know, I think it's really remarkable. And I've been, you know, I've had I've read a lot of projects that are very kind of heavy, that are about difficult subject matter that tell difficult stories. And those were really necessary projects, those were very important films to make. And I think those were part of, of my legacy, whatever that is. But I'm kind of trying to transition into telling stories that offer a little bit more joy, I think, for my own sake, and also for my community's sake. You know, when I when I make work, I think about audience like first I think about my family, I think about my grandparents, I lost my grandfather, like two years ago, and he's he was like a father to me. But I think about my my grandparents first and wonder like, what would they think of this? Are they going to be proud of me for making this? And that's kind of usually the most important thing. But I'm also starting to think about my, my nieces and my nephew and these beautiful little humans that are in my life, and how can I kind of like help build a future that is a bit more hopeful and joyful for them? And how can I offer? How can I offer them stories that weren't available to me or accessible to me when I was a child. Because you know, so often what we see the reflections of ourselves on screen, the representations we see of ourselves on screen, regardless of you know, what we know of ourselves, we still internalize what we see. And as does the general public. And so I think it's really important to try and create stories that offer representations that feel authentic, and real, and fun and empowering, and all of those things that, that I think young people really need. So yeah, so I'm trying to kind of transition into telling some more stories that that are a bit more on the joyful side of of things.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, that makes sense. It's, it's a really interesting, super interesting, and probably a totally longer conversation. For me, I find it really fascinating. The sort of arc of like, you know, there's there's this incredible history and heritage that has been massively threatened, but survived. Right? So there's that element of, we need to stick together, and we need to remember right, so that becomes a thing. And I get that. I mean, that makes perfect sense to me. And it's interesting, too, because you want to tell the stories. So that, you know, won't happen again. Right. Again, which makes sense. And but but I'm hearing also that you're sort of saying, but there are so many joyous things that maybe we put to the sideline that we don't share, because we're so busy trying to make sure everybody remembers, does that resonate with you? Like,

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

yeah, absolutely. I think there's this kind of like, pressure. When you come from a marginalized community, when you come from communities that have been made vulnerable, that have experienced, you know, various forms of oppression, there's kind of this pressure to tell stories of impact and meaning and often that involves telling stories of hardship and survival. And those stories are very important. But it can be very difficult to be in a position of consistently having to tell stories like that or not necessarily having to but feeling the pressure of needing to put those stories into the world and yeah, I think The pandemic is also kind of offered that sort of insight for me in the sense that like, sitting alone with this and reflecting on my work, not only reflecting on my, my personal life and the trauma that I've experienced, but reflecting on my work, and just having to sit with these difficult stories and knowing the impact that they had on on me as a person, and in turn the people around me, I felt like, Alright, maybe it's time to kind of like, just try and think about the meaning of joy. And the pursuit of joy, and the ways that I can both offer that to myself and my family and my community, but also to, to my audience in the work that I create.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. What? I'm so curious, what things bring you joy, you personally,

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

you know, it's funny after, after the divorce, that was like, my, my soul, like pursuit was like, what, you know, what is joy? What does it mean to me? And what are the things that that truly bring me joy. And, you know, obviously, first and foremost is family, and it's the land and being in my community, and just spending time outside in this beautiful place that offers me like the deepest sense of belonging, and music and dance and food and friends, and you know, all of the simple things that I think in my pursuit of like, work in my career, I was kind of setting aside and like not making time for those sort of very simple, but very important aspects of the human experience. So yeah, those things bring me a lot of joy and my dog, I have a res dog. Now he kind of just walked into my, into my life one day, and now he's, he's there every day. Yeah, you know, all those things bring me joy. And I've also thought a lot about I've been in this, like, you know, thinking about joy and my own, like, personal pursuit of joy. I've thought about how so many of our people, indigenous people who are stuck, and like trapped in survival mode, because of everything that they're up against, and we're up against, that sort of, like, Privilege of the pursuit of joy, or the privilege of being able to just feel peace, and not be like, trapped in that hamster wheel of oppression is, you know, to take in from a lot of our people. And so I feel like in terms of thinking about joy, and my own pursuit of joy, that it needs to be also about like a communal and more like, lateral sense of joy in that, like, how can I, how can I support my community? How can I support my family? How can I be part of building more joy in those around me, not just myself, because I think, you know, there's this very, like, Western individualistic idea of like, self care, and of joy and peace and whatever that means. And it's, it is very, like, counterintuitive, and doesn't really run parallel with with, with community and, and building community and, and also just the ways that I was raised within community, you know, it's, it's about how can we lift each other up? How can we bring each other joy? How can we make sure that our family and our neighbors and our friends are are doing okay, you know?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, 100%. And it's so interesting, because I never really myself, think of joy. I believe that we all have access to joy no matter where that is within us. It's not like a transactional thing. And what also really stands out to me is maybe you don't see it. So I'm just kind of pointed out but with with all this, this community that you're upholding, and that you're you know that that is your value. There's so much joy in that. Like, from my perspective, right? You have something worth protecting that brings you joy, do you know what I mean? Like it's already there.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it's

Lisa Hopkins:

that it's joyous to see what are the three adjectives that you might use to describe yourself?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Three adjectives to describe myself. Gosh, I don't know. I'm, I'm a little bit restless. I don't know how to sit still. I'm always on the go. Maybe that's an ADHD thing. Maybe it's a trauma thing. Maybe it's just a me thing. You know, I come from To people who never sit still, both of my parents are very my father is involved in politics in Sami politics, he was an activist and very involved in the Sami rights movement. And he lives in his home village over in Norway. And my mother is a physician, here at home on the blood reserve. And they're both very involved in community very involved in, you know, working tirelessly just to try and make things better for their respective communities, both of which I belong to. So I think the restlessness comes from from them. And was, I don't know, another I, I am. I'm a very social person. I really love people. I love meeting people. I love learning about people, and I love just hearing people's stories. Everybody has a story. I think that's why I, you know, I'm a storyteller is I just I love I love people. I love learning from people. I love learning about people, and fascinated by the human experience and the capacity to, you know, overcome so much. And the capacity that we have as humans to feel joy in the face of hardship. I don't know if it's social, an adjective. Adjective. What's another one? I guess I, I like, I like to laugh. I really like to have fun. I really like to, you know, a lot of my work is serious and intense. But I really do enjoy fun and laughter. And I think we need to make space for that all the time.

Lisa Hopkins:

Mm hmm. I love it. Can I point something out just that? It's really interesting. Two things that stood out to me. And maybe maybe this tells me something about you. Well, just play it back. Because it'll be interesting to you, not for nothing. One, one thing that I observed was that you always tied it to a reason? Well, first of all, it was difficult for you, which is interesting to me to talk about yourself. So you tied it to actually went into quite a long explanation of where it came from. And then I learned a lot about your mom, dad. When I when I asked about you. So that's super interesting to me. And I just point that out. And then yeah, I think the other thing is, is to like the analysis, right? The analysis of is that a word? You know, maybe it's because is it right? Like there was Yeah, so interesting to me. What do you think?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

I make sense. I think that's how I approach everything in life is I love to learn. I'm a lifelong learner. I'm always trying to learn about new things and people and experiences and I think that involves a lot of critical thinking and reasoning. And yeah, so that makes sense.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's cool. What Why do you think Why do you suppose it's was a little bit tricky to, to come up with something quickly about yourself? What was the challenge for you?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Um, well, to be honest, I'm really uncomfortable talking about myself, I think, I think a lot of people are when it comes to like, really, like, core qualities of who we are as people. It's kind of a I think it's Yeah, I think it makes me uncomfortable to talk about about myself. It could be a cultural thing, too. You know, it's not very like yeah, we you know, the way

Lisa Hopkins:

I'm not laughing Yes, yes. Dr. tail feathers

Unknown:

Oh, my God, no, no,

Lisa Hopkins:

it's all good. Do you ever get Do you ever get paralysis by analysis?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Definitely. Yeah.

Lisa Hopkins:

Is that usually because you get so caught in the analysis? Or is it because because there's kind of different flavors of that, right. Some people that can be just they can't they can't move forward, because they're just analyzing everything. And some people it's because everything seems so good. And so there's like a fairness, you know, kind of criteria of like, well, to be fair, that would be amazing. And talk to me about which how that shows up for you the paralysis.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Um, I think I just I don't know I just I guess I just get lost in thought, you know, I it's it's just I've I guess I've always been a thinker and a daydreamer and also just, I just really love to understand the reason why behind everything, you know, if we can if we can. If we can find the reason why behind things It makes everything make a lot more sense. No, no and in every way, but also, I think sometimes we don't need to know the reason why for everything, maybe that's just like a natural human response as well as to kind of find the reason why. So that we can put, I mean, active or make sense of tragedy or make sense of trauma or, you know, make sense of these these horrible things that we experience sometimes, or that others experience or the things we witness in the news, you know, so I think there's this like natural human response of trying to find logic and trying to find reason to make sense. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Hopkins:

What about curiosity? How does curiosity differ from that? Can you differentiate the two?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Yeah, I think curiosity is is is. I think I'm more curious than I am I needing to find reasoning for everything? Yeah. Because, you know, I think curiosity opens up so many doors, you know, and curiosity keeps us humble. And curiosity opens us up to possibility, you know, and I really love the fact that this life that we live is full of infinite possibility. And I think, hardship can teach us that as well. It's such a cheesy thing to say that, you know, when one door closes, closes, another one opens, but it is true. You know, it's like, there's so many possibilities in this life. And we have so many choices. And, you know, sometimes we don't have control over over the things that are the barriers that are placed in front of us. I think it's important to recognize privilege and power and those types of things. But yeah, I think curiosity keeps us humble. And curiosity reminds us that there's like infinite possibility in this in this lifetime. And that we're just little tiny creatures in this massive universe, you know?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, hell yeah. No, absolutely. I love it. So curiosity is ranking real high, there was one of your, how you would describe yourself. I love that. How would you how would others acquaintances, let's say people that know you, that would what adjectives would they use for you?

Unknown:

Oh, God, I don't know.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

That's a really tough one, too. I'm a little bit scattered and flaky, but also very committed. And passionate. Maybe those are things people.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's so cool. It's so interesting. You know, I can't help but think about your character. And Three Pines is really interesting is what you just described as like, the opposite of her. Right? Like, she's so focused. She's Yeah, how was it? How was it playing? Like, because, you know, sometimes we take pieces of ourselves, right, when we're portraying a character and so on and so forth. What did you tap into to? To play that role?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Um, well, first of all, it was really challenging to even accept the role because it meant playing a police officer. And you know, I thoroughly believe that we need to defund the police and put a whole lot of money into other support systems for people who are struggling, and also just put money into community, you know. And the police have a very violent history with indigenous people, with black people with marginalized communities, with people who lead with addictions with people who are in poverty with people who are homeless, and you know, policing is not going to solve these problems. Policing only exacerbates the problem, in my opinion, that being said, there are you know, a lot of indigenous police officers in this world and they do believe I think in many of many of the police officers I've spoken to, through my work previous prior to Three Pines, they did it because they believe they could make change from the inside. And I fully understand that that reasoning and that motivation, and I think, with Isabel Lacoste, my character on Three Pines. It it is that it's this idea that you know, she's she's, she's pursuing goodness, and she's pursuing trying to make change from the inside. And I think the writers on that show did a really great job of just of showing that it's, it's an uphill battle. It's like a hamster wheel that you can't really change something that is inherently broken, something that is not working. You know, I think we need to imagine completely new alternatives to the current structures of policing and criminalizing poverty and people who We live with addictions. And I obviously think that we can't just like get rid of the police tomorrow, but we can certainly work towards making massive changes in the way that we, we deal with the, the social ills in our society. Yeah, so playing her was difficult for, for those reasons or, you know, ethical reason. But also, it was really interesting to me to, like get into the mind of this person who, you know, was taken during the 60 Scoop, was raised by a non Indigenous family who was disconnected from her community, and wanted to, you know, be part of positive change within her world. And so that was all kind of really fascinating. And I think the writing was great. And it was just like, a really wonderful opportunity to be part of something that put these difficult stories of indigenous experience and indigenous reality on a global stage. So that was kind of like, ultimately why I decided to do it was because I recognize that this was an opportunity to be part of something that would share our stories on a on a global level. Like, it had a huge reach, you know, people were watching it all over the world. And that was very remarkable. And it was also really remarkable to be the the lead woman on screen on this massive show and be an indigenous woman playing, you know, this, I guess, for lack of a better term, a role model, you know, she was, she's someone who has her shit together, and she's strong and independent. And she's a loving mother. And she's, you know, she's flawed. And she's figuring her way out of the darkness. And, you know, she's, she's just a really interesting person. And the fact that that was an indigenous woman on screen on this, like, massive global scale was really was really remarkable.

Lisa Hopkins:

Ya know, truly, it truly was. That seems like a really interesting space. Where all your worlds came together. I'm guessing in that, you know, it was probably, I don't know, would you would you consider that one of your sort of biggest role so far in your career as an actress? Yeah, absolutely.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Right.

Lisa Hopkins:

So there's that call and it came, did the opportunity come during the pandemic?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

It did, yeah, it kind of it. Um, it came while I was working on the thunderbay documentary series, so I, you know, I, I would say that I direct most of the time that's it's mostly my job. And usually, once a year, I'll do some acting gig that, you know, brings me fun and, you know, a different kind of, like, creative fulfillment. And yeah, and that, that it happened to be Three Pines I, I worked on a film called Stellar. And it was directing this documentary series called Thunder Bay. And then this this Three Pines opportunity came up and six days after my callback, I was in Montreal, getting ready to shoot the show. And I lived in Montreal for five months. And yeah, it was a very wild experience. Alfred Molina is such a kind person and it's just so down to earth and so real and just very generous as an actor. And so it was really like so mind blowing to like, be working with Elvira Molina someone who had watched on screen like my whole life essentially. And then the the rest of the cast was incredible. You know, tan to Cardinal, she's, she's an icon. My friend Roscoe Sutherland, I just love working with that person. I love him so much. And yeah, I got to watch Tracy deer, this Mohawk director, woman direct episodes three and four. And just to see an indigenous woman directing a series of that scale with this massive budget and this huge crew, just a massive undertaking and just to see her own it and to like, be in control and, you know, really, truly be on top of her on her on top of her game and her craft as a as a filmmaker was just so inspiring. And I felt really safe and supported in that environment. And also Sam Donovan was just a fantastic director to work with. He did EPS 127 and eight and he was very generous and knew that I was also filmmaker and so I was, you know, lucky enough to be able to learn from from him as well and that's often one of the reasons why I will take An acting role is is solely based on who the director is. And I always take those opportunities as as chances to learn and just to sort of be a sponge and watch how a director works and see how they make decisions, how they communicate with their, their cast and their crew. Because communication is key. I think in order to be a, you know, a good director, you have to be able to communicate with people in a respectful and meaningful and generous way. And so yeah, all of it was was was a wildly thrilling and great learning opportunity for me.

Lisa Hopkins:

What's your definition of living in the moment?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

What is my definition of living in the moment? Joy? I know it sounds so cheesy, but I had this just this realization and you know, all this thinking about what is joy mean? And what does it mean to to chase your joy? It, it, it is the most like, it is the most present emotion we can feel, which is joy. You know, I'll tell a story about Ross of Sutherland, we were working on Three Pines, and, you know, often we would end up in the same transport vehicles home from St. Armand, which is the town that became Three Pines, back into Montreal, and we do a lot of long talks. And he's a very, you know, he thinks in, in very unconventional ways, he's a lovely human, and I'm so grateful, he's my friend. But I think he recognized that I was, I was very unhappy at the time that we were working on Three Pines, you know, my marriage was kind of fully falling apart, I had, I'd left Vancouver, and I was, you know, it wasn't, it wasn't a sad place, I was grieving the loss of something that I was, I was grieving the loss of a future that I'd kind of, like, been very set on. And, and I, you know, we started talking about what I wanted in life. And I told him, like, you know, I just, I just want to move home, I just want to be home, in my community, with my family. And, and he said, you know, chase your joy. And it sounded, it was such a simple thing. But I'd never heard anyone say that directly to me, and in a moment when I truly needed it. And so yeah, I started to, you know, think about really chasing my joy on a deeper level, not just because of Ross's credit, but, but he definitely helped sort of plant that, that little seed of thinking about this concept of chasing joy. But later on, I went and worked on, on a show called Little Bird, I directed the first three episodes of a show called Little Bird. And it's about the 60 Scoop, which it for maybe for American listeners, it's the 60 Scoop was a was the systemic removal of Indigenous children from our families and communities. And they were placed in foster care adopted by non Indigenous families. It's a process that still ongoing, there's the Millennium scoop. And, you know, today indigenous children make up the vast majority of children in foster care in Canada. So it's, it's a problem. And, and it needs to change. And there are many people in our communities who are advocating for change and have been for a long time. And so this is the show little bird is about the 60 Scoop. And so I went to worked on the show, and you know, it was very heavy. But it was a really wonderful experience, in that I was surrounded by other indigenous people wanting to tell a really important story, and really making sure that we were taking care of each other and that we were making space for joy. And it was a very healing experience. And, you know, I was going through all this intense stuff in my personal life, and was really trying to, like, hold on to joy, and chase it and find it in the smallest ways. And anyway, at the end of that journey, I ended up you know, falling in love, I found I found someone new, and I fell in love. After the show finished and this person and I, we laugh a lot, there's a lot of joy, a lot of laughter in our relationship. And and I started just to think more deeply about, you know, the meaning of laughter and the way that laughter is medicine. And I started to think about mindfulness and what it means to be present in the moment what mindfulness means. On a very, like, simple, obvious level, and honestly, when I'm laughing when I'm feeling joy with my family, with my partner, with my co workers with my friends, I'm able to forget About my pain, I'm able to not think about my worries in the future, I'm able to just exist in that moment and feel joy. And it's honestly the most wonderful feeling, to laugh and to share laughter with others and to feel. Yeah, a deep sense of like presence. And, and being in the moment and feeling like truly alive. Because it's yeah, it's a wonderful thing. So, yeah, that's a very roundabout way of answering that question. But I think, yeah, to me, Joy is the most present in the moment, feeling we can we can have for all of those reasons.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. No, I totally on point, actually. I mean, it's really on point. And it is true, actually, when you're when you're laughing or in hysterics, or in any of these kinds of euphoric spontaneous physical experiences, you are actually, scientifically in the moment, if you want, if you want data, I mean, you know what I mean, let alone Yeah, and if you can bring awareness to how that feels like, you are, right, it's, it's a gift. And it's available to us, right?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think about my community, I think about other indigenous communities and, and communities that have experienced, like, so much hardship. When you spend time in these spaces with, with your people, when I'm with my people, there's so much laughter, you know, and, and it's it, it have this, like deep sense of belonging, and a sense of like, Oh, I'm at home, when I hear my people laughing. And it's like, it's one of the most beautiful things. And I think the fact that we're able to laugh that we're able to feel joy and presence and connection is a really radical and profound thing. Because, you know, we've been through so much all of us carry a, you know, deep sense of trauma, because of everything we've been through. And the fact that we can feel joy, in the face of all of that is extraordinary. And yeah, it gives me a deep sense of pride. So it's, yeah, it's all of those things. And, you know, I really think we need to constantly make space for joy.

Lisa Hopkins:

Absolutely. And I think making space is key. I love the way you describe that. Because, again, it's available to us, but we have to, we have to make the space, we have to open up to it, right? I mean, I have experienced joy with you today. I mean, I feel I feel we've experienced some joy. We've created some together, just by trust, and by, you know, being in the moment. And I thank you for that. I think I'm in gratitude for that.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Oh, thank you. Thanks for asking me all these really deep questions about myself and the human experience. And yeah, well, that's what I love to do. In the film and television industry. We're just so used to doing interviews where we're asked to ask the same old question. Oh, my god, yeah. It's nice to talk about, you know, real life stuff and the human experience. And I'm very kind of like, it's very much my, my path right now is just thinking about, you know, the human experience and in life and all of that. Maybe it's because I'm almost 38 and the biological clock is ticking. You're

Lisa Hopkins:

so funny. Let me ask you just a couple more official questions. And then and then I'll say goodbye to you listen to it again. It's been amazing. What do you know will stay true about you, no matter what happens, I,

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

I know that I'm always going to be proud of where I come from and who I come from, and that no matter what, I will always be connected to this place. And yeah,

Lisa Hopkins:

yeah, that was easy, wasn't it? Yeah. That was awesome. That was awesome. What would you say is your Achilles heel?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Achilles heel, I think, you know, self doubt and like imposter syndrome. And you know, it exists for a lot of reasons. I've you know, I'm an indigenous woman working in a space that is not not very it's kind of hostile in some ways towards towards me and my my people and my lived experience in the way that I work. And so I've kind of always had to do things my own way and also with community. And so yeah, I think there's a lot of self doubt and this industry is a very tough one to be in, you have to grow a lot have thick skin. You know, for instance, I haven't, haven't booked an acting gig since Three Pines and I wrapped a year and a half ago almost, I'm doing a lot of directing. But yeah, you have to kind of just grow thick skin and know that it's, it's the industry and that, you know, my my self worth has to be built on something a lot deeper than than my job and whether or not I'm going to be doing another one. acting gig. And yeah, and then you know, impostor syndrome, I think, again, as an indigenous woman, as someone who has ADHD. That's something that's like very common with, as I've learned with other ADHD years is that there's a Yeah, deep sense of kind of imposter syndrome and a sense of like not belonging and not being good enough or not having the talent or skill to necessarily be where we are. But I know that it that that is not truth, that it's that it's part of this like negative self talk. And so yeah, I would say those are, those are my kind of Achilles heels is just being too hard on myself. And being too and yeah, letting self doubt creep in. I think it's an easy thing to do. I'm really fascinated by neuroplasticity, and cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. And you know, I've been doing this for years. Just thinking cognitive behavioral therapy and, and mindfulness. I've been practicing it for almost like 10 years. And it's really incredible to see the ways that I've been able to change the way I think and the way I react and respond to difficult situations. And the way that I can change, you know, my own behaviors and habits, just by being aware of my thoughts, being aware of where they come from, being aware of my history, my legacy, my own trauma, the ways that my trauma informs my reactions to the world. And, yeah, I'm fascinated by neuroplasticity, and the capacity to change the way we can think and the way we feel and the way we can relate to the world around us. And so I think it's so easy to fall into that pattern of self doubt of negative self talk of just beating ourselves up and being hard on ourselves. And, and also like giving in to, you know, as an indigenous woman as also as a queer person giving into these ideas that I don't belong in these spaces. Because some straight white man told me I don't, you know, yeah, so I think that it's also important just to like, be proud of who we are and, and be kind to ourselves and really just try and eliminate those patterns of negative self talk.

Lisa Hopkins:

Totally. Let's do this. Okay, I'm going to say a word and you are just going to say whatever comes to your mind, so you don't have to think okay. I'm gonna think about it like wait till rapid fire. Doesn't have to be rapid if you never actually is. Alright, so what makes you hungry?

Unknown:

Food always angry. I'm always good. Oh my god.

Lisa Hopkins:

What makes you joyful? Food. Love it. Not having food. For us, what inspires you?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Oh, when? My family or just my family, my community, indigenous youth? Just people doing great things?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yep. What frustrates you.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

When people are unkind, no, we have a choice in this world. We can be kind or we could not be kind. Yeah, it's just when people are rude when people are unkind and just like, don't recognize that we're all just human beings. You know, I live in Southern Alberta. It's a very racist place. It's a place that's very hostile towards indigenous people. And it's like, this is our homeland. This is our territory and to feel unwelcome in our own territory is an awful feeling. And so yeah, I experience it in a different way. Because often, you know, people don't necessarily know that I'm indigenous. I'm kind of ethnically ambiguous so I experience racism differently but then also I am coded as indigenous a lot of the time so I you know, I go across the street to the town and I'll get followed around stores and only recently now that people know I'm in the show called Three Pines it's a little bit different now that they treat me a little bit differently but but yeah, I still get followed around stores still get treated like I'm gonna steal something. So that yeah, that makes me angry is racism, obviously, and just a general lack of like, humanity and dignity that a lot of people sort of carry.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. 100% What makes you laugh?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Or my grandma makes me laugh all the time every day with her every Reagan was like my best friend. I really love her more than most people. Yeah, we got one Virginia. She's 83 She drove a school bus for over 40 years here on the reserve. She was also a nurse at the Indian hospital. I don't I don't know if people know this, but for a long time, there were Indian hospitals, which were separate from regular old Canadian. We called here and in this part of the world, white hospitals, so yeah, she was a she was a nurse. And she's really funny. She's, she's been through a lot. And she's really, really funny.

Lisa Hopkins:

I bet she was the children's favorite bus driver. Did they love her? Oh, funny, because

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

she's, she'll see people like, she'll see people like in their 40s or 50s. And they'll be like, hey, Bus Driver. Oh, it's so nice to know that. You know, she's people still remember her as their bus driver and that she was this sweet little lady.

Lisa Hopkins:

Love it. Oh, that's so awesome. And finally, what are you most grateful for?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

I feel like I just like always say family, but I am like, super family. I'm grateful for my family and everything that they've done for, for me and for us and for my community.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. What are the top three things that have happened so far today?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

I took my dog out for a walk. Yeah. Madly dug into a gopher hole. He's like currently obsessed with finding gophers. As it was like it's really nice to step outside and see that Spring is finally here. It feels like this winter is just like dragged on forever. Yeah, and just having coffee with my mom was really nice. And this conversation has been really lovely.

Lisa Hopkins:

Love it. And what is what is something that you're looking forward to both today and then in the future?

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

I'm gonna go have lunch with two friends from high school in Lethbridge at this delicious restaurant called umami. If you're ever in Lethbridge, Alberta, go to umami. It's very, very good food. So yeah, I'm looking forward to that longer term. I'm, yeah, I'm looking forward to summer. I'm looking forward to just sunny days and hiking and getting outside with my dog and my family and my friends and my partner and traveling and yeah, yeah.

Unknown:

I love it.

Lisa Hopkins:

Listen, thank you so much for I've had so much fun talking to you and learning about you. It's been such a pleasure having you.

Elle-Maija Tailfeathers:

Thank you. It was a really great conversation. Thank you so much.

Lisa Hopkins:

It's my pleasure. I have been speaking today with l le. Just call me Maya. So I want to say right,

Unknown:

LMA Yeah, Allah Maya, Allah, Allah. Allah. May Yeah, may Yeah. Yeah. LMA Yeah. Maya tailfeathers.

Lisa Hopkins:

Thanks for listening. Everybody stay safe and healthy, and remember to live in the moment. In music, stop time is that beautiful moment where the band is suspended and rhythmic Unison supporting the soloist to express their individuality. In the moment, I encourage you to take that time and create your own rhythm. Until next time, I'm Lisa Hopkins. Thanks for listening