Indigenous people have been underrepresented and misrepresented in the film and television industry for years. Most recently, this has been changing and there have been more opportunities for Indigenous people to be involved. Olivia Kate Iatridis is a young, Indigenous actress who has been successfully working in the film and television industry for the past eight years, since she was thirteen years old.
Olivia is an Inuvialuk, a member of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Western Arctic. She was born and raised in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories but moved with her family to St Albert, Alberta when she was a teenager. Olivia grew up performing in front of others. Before she started acting, she was a competitive dancer and figure skater.
Olivia began her acting career in Alberta after she participated in a talent competition where she had to act in a number of showcases in front of talent agents. She performed a monologue, one-liner, commercial, modelled and danced for the judges. At the event, Olivia placed in the top ten among hundreds of children from all over the world and she won the Facebook Photo Contest. This inspired Olivia to pursue her passion of acting in film and television. With the support of her mother, she started by seeking an agent, participating in actor training and building her work experience. She did all of this during her free time after attending school, dancing and figure skating full-time.
Olivia started auditioning for roles and began acting in short, independent films, promotional videos, commercials and feature films being made in Alberta. In her pursuit of acting, she had to overcome several challenges that made it difficult for her to build her resume. It was hard to find roles available for her age. There were times where Olivia was able to book roles for older characters as she looked more mature than her age. Most times, she volunteered on films in exchange for movie credits and film clips that she could use in her demo reels. Olivia worked on film sets some days for up to fourteen hours at a time. If she had to work during the school week, she would have to make up for any classes and assignments that she missed. This did not discourage Olivia from progressing and building a strong acting foundation.
In 2019, Olivia had her first co-starring lead role in a feature film called Abducted. The film was written and directed by Métis Director, Daniel Foreman. It is about an inner-city teenage boy’s life that is turned upside-down when his drug-running sister goes missing. Olivia played the role of the missing sister, Lakota Sampson. The film touches on important Indigenous topics such as Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and Girls, residential schools, and intergenerational trauma. Olivia was proud to play a part in bringing to light these important topics through this film. She was nominated for an award as Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the Red Nation International Film Festival in Los Angeles for her role as Lakota.
Once Olivia graduated from high school, she moved to Vancouver at the age of eighteen with the goal of pursing acting professionally. She was so determined that she did not let Covid-19 stop her from making the transition. Once in Vancouver, Olivia continued to take acting training. She also obtained a new agent, Trisko Talent Management, to represent her for higher profile principal roles. Throughout Covid-19, and even now, she auditions regularly for roles through the submission of self-tapes.
Olivia said, “One of my greatest memories working on a project is when I booked my first job in Vancouver. It was my first big job and when I showed up to set it was like a dream come true. They had huge, beautiful sets and cool costumes and it just reignited my spark for acting all over again.”
Over the past years, Olivia has won three Joey Awards, Young Canadian Performers Awards, for her acting. At the age of 15, Olivia won the Best Supporting Actress in A Short Film for her role in Indra’s Awakening. The short film also won the Audience Choice Award for Best Dramatic Short at the Edmonton International Film Festival. At the age of seventeen, Olivia won the Best Actress in a Commercial Award for her role as a goth girl in a Mattress Mattress commercial.
Most recently, in 2022, Olivia won the first ever Joey Award in a new category called Outstanding Indigenous Performer Award. In her acceptance speech, Olivia dedicated the award to her Nanuk (grandmother) Sarah Nasogaluak and spoke about the lack of Indigenous representation in the film industry.
Olivia now has eleven acting credits to her name on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) which is the largest source of information for movie, TV and celebrity content. She is listed as part of the Top Cast alongside Hilary Swank in episode five of Alaska Daily which aired in 2022 on ABC and Disney+. Recently, she also played a principal role as Sadie in a Hallmark Movie called Sweeter Than Chocolate which aired on the Hallmark Channel as part of Loveuary 2023 Movies and in celebration of Valentines Day.
When asked what advice Olivia would give to Indigenous youth interested in acting, she said, “If you are interested in acting, you can absolutely do it. These days, it is so much easier to get into the industry. If you want to be an actor though, you have to work hard for it. You have to truly believe that you can do it and work your butt off to get it. If this is your dream then the hard work is definitely worth it!”
You can follow Olivia at:
Instagram – oliviakatei
Facebook – Olivia Kate Iatridis
IMDb – www.imdb.me/oliviakateiatridis
By Kinnukana, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 07, 2023