Actress Grace Dove Talks ‘Alaska Daily’ Taking On Native Representation In The Right Way

Image courtesy of Grace Dove

If you’ve been watching ABC’s new based-on-real-life drama ‘Alaska Daily’, you will probably recognize actress Grace Dove, who plays reporter Roz opposite Hilary Swank’s character Elizabeth Fitzgerald. Grace played the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the 2015 Oscar-winning film ‘The Revenant’. The Rising Indigenous actress and director is giving a memorable performance in ‘Alaska Daily’, a show that is making its own mark on the TV landscape in a very significant way.

‘Alaska Daily’ follows Eileen Fitzgerald, an investigative journalist who leaves her high-profile New York life behind to join a daily metro newspaper in Anchorage. Throughout the series, the newspaper investigates tragic stories of MMIP (Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons), based on a very real crisis that is happening in Alaska and all over the US. Roz is a young reporter who teams up with Eileen to champion the voices of her people and break open the story.

An Indigenous person herself, Grace is deeply connected to her native roots, even facilitating her own youth-empowerment program “Thunderbird Dreams” in communities directing short films that are unique to each Nation. As an actress and director, she has embraced a responsibility to lift up her audience and her community.  

ALASKA DAILY – ABC’s ‘Alaska Daily’ stars Grace Dove as Rosalind “Roz” Friendly. (ABC/Matt Sayles)

In 2020 Grace made her directorial debut with the poignantly beautiful and visually stunning short film ‘Kiri and The Girl’, which is currently streaming on Apple TV. She recently wrapped filming the five-part limited series ‘Bones of Crows’, where she stars as Cree Matriarch “Aline Spears”. ‘Bones of Crows’ tells the story of Spears’ childhood as she survives Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse. She uses her uncanny ability to understand and translate codes into working for a special division of the Canadian Air Force as a Cree code talker in World War II.

Away from movie and TV sets, Grace facilitates her youth-empowerment program “Thunderbird Dreams” in communities directing short films that are unique to each Nation.

“I had the dream of becoming an actress, and to tell stories of Indigenous resilience. I created the vision, and I didn’t let anyone tell me it’s not possible,” she says in a press release about her career so far.

We had the chance to speak with Grace Dove about why she believes ‘Alaska Daily’ is taking on Native representation the right way, how she is excited to see the stories of MMIW on network television, and what she wants audiences to take away from this compelling story. 

We are excited to see you in action in ‘Alaska Daily’. How are you feeling about the release? 

I’m feeling great seeing Indigenous representation on network television has been such a dream and it’s really exciting to see each episode come out and watch it for the very first time and be reassured and just be really grateful for the work. 

Can you tell us where your acting career began, and what drew you to the industry? 

I had a TV show when I was 9 where I grew up in Prince George. It was a children’s TV show called ‘Splatterday’ where I was the host and I would go and film every Monday morning before school and I think that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do. I tried to get my dad to move me to Hollywood after that and he asked me to graduate from high school. So I did that and then finally was able to pursue acting school and I’ve always felt that this is the work I am meant to be doing. 

‘Alaska Daily’ is breaking a lot of ground in the way it is focusing on real life MMIW and MMIP stories. As an Indigenous woman, what does this mean to you personally?

MMIW has been something that is very close to my family and my community. I grew up along the highway of tears in northern British Columbia. So as an indigenous person, this crisis and these women that have gone missing is very deeply personal so it is amazing to be able to be a part of bringing this to network television and probably to the TV screens of people who have never even heard of MMIW, to be able to not only be a full time actor on an incredible show but also share these true stories.


For those who are unfamiliar with the numerous Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons/Women, what should they know about this, and why is it important to have a series on a major network covering this issue? 

When it comes to MMIW, this is happening all across North America in all of our communities. So its a huge crisis that no one is doing anything about and I think that the more awareness that we can bring the more there will be compassion and understanding and the more that non-Indigenous people can educate themselves on the true history of Canada and the United States and what we are still facing today as Indigenous peoples when it comes to colonization and the removal of our lands and our language and our culture.  

Although Hollywood is slowly moving toward a more equitable and diverse direction, sometimes it doesn’t always get it right. Can you talk about how ‘Alaska Daily’ fares in terms of Native representation both on screen and off? 

Alaska Daily has Indigenous writers in the room. There’s only so much I can do as a performer. We really need to start in the room when we’re writing these characters to be accurate and to make the stories accurate. I think that is something incredible that Tom McCarthy has done. He has really made sure that there are voices from Alaska natives, so by the time I get the script, there is already so much groundwork done. And then hiring Indigenous actors is still a big deal. My big break was doing The Revenant in 2016 which was a huge turning point for Hollywood in a really positive direction. And we’re seeing it get better and better when it comes to actually hiring Indigenous actors, but I think it’s so important to have Indigenous creatives right from the beginning. 


Along with your own soaring acting career, you facilitate a youth empowerment film program in Native communities. Can you tell us more about this, and why empowering Native youth to tell their own stories is important? 

I felt like I was given a huge platform after ‘The Revenant’ and started getting a lot of invitations to visit communities and speak to youth. I felt like it was really important to use my voice and share with these young people who still live on reserves and reservations and who might have very limited access to opportunities and to go in and share my story of where I’ve come from and how hard and I’ve worked and that following your dreams is possible. I think a lot of Indigenous youth don’t know that these opportunities are out there. So it’s more of just trying to use this platform I was given in a positive way and share with the youth that their dreams are worth pursuing.  

You are also a director, and your short film ‘Kiri and the Girl’ is streaming on AppleTV+. What do you love about directing, that is different from acting in front of the camera? 

I never realized or thought about getting into directing but now that I’ve been in the industry for a decade, I was starting to feel like there wasn’t enough Indigenous voices in these positions of power. So I really wanted to take this into my own hands and be able to share my experience because I’ve worked with some incredible directors up until now and so I want to be able to be more involved in telling important stories. Ive worked with two female Indigenous female directors on my last couple films, including Loretta Todd and Marie Clements, and seeing how hard they fought for me to be here is really inspiring. I want to continue that, to continue opening doors for the next generation of actors and storytellers. 


‘Alaska Daily’ is not the only series you are involved in that centers around a topic affecting Indigenous people. Can you tell us about ‘Bones of Crows’, and the dark history of colonialism it covers? 

We just premiered the feature film version at both TIFF and opened up VIFF here in Vancouver. There is also going to be a 5-part mini-series coming out on CDC in the spring. I am the lead of this project and it follows my character throughout her entire life. So I play 16 through 60, there is also a younger child version of me and an elder version of me. It follows my character as she experiences and survives the residential school system and struggles that brought as she got older as she tries to raise her family. I think it brings together a lot of shared experiences for this generation and for the older generations that had to survive this system. 

What do you want audiences to learn/love/remember most about ‘Alaska Daily’, and your work as Roz? 

I love Roz because she’s such a fighter and I think that she’s probably been fighting her whole life to be seen and to be heard. I really connect with that. I want audiences to be open to an Indienous experience and hopefully learn something new and also just enjoy the beauty of these Alaska native stories and the importance behind journalism. We need to keep journalism alive so we can share these stories. 

You can watch Grace Dove in action on ‘Alaska Daily’, Thursdays 10/9c on ABC. Follow Grace on Instagram and check out more of her work on her website.