Joelle Peters acts on TV and is the Interim Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts

Alumni profile

Joelle Peters pursues her dreams of acting

Joelle Peters acts on TV and is the Interim Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts

February 13, 2024

For as long as Joelle Peters can remember, she wanted a life in the arts.

“I don’t think I’ve ever realistically considered a different career,” she explained.

Originally from Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation), about 320 kilometres southwest of Toronto, Ms. Peters is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) actor, playwright and the Interim Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts – Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company.

“It went from summer drama camps as a kid, to community theatre productions, to high school drama classes and plays. By the time I was considering postsecondary, I knew it was going to be acting.”

Though Ms. Peters didn’t know much about Seneca’s Acting for Camera & Voice diploma program before she applied, she was drawn to the practical aspect of the courses offered.

“It felt like I’d get realistic training for film, TV and voice acting,” she said. “Another perk that I later discovered was the fact that many of the professors are working actors. A few of them are now colleagues.”

“[Seneca] was great for building my network and discovering ways into the Toronto acting community. Being surrounded by like-minded artists and work made it a bit easier to figure out where I could go after graduation”

Having grown up in a small town, Ms. Peters remembers being a little intimidated about moving to Toronto right after high school. However, she soon discovered that the tight-knit community of students and professors in the Acting for Camera and Voice program was exactly what she needed to thrive.

“It was great for building my network and discovering ways into the Toronto acting community. Being surrounded by like-minded artists and work made it a bit easier to figure out where I could go after graduation,” she said.

From voice, improv and audition classes to learning various acting techniques, Ms. Peters enjoyed the challenge and reward of going through the program and excelling at something she was so passionate about.

“The smaller class size in my cohort allowed us to bond more closely than in larger programs, and a handful of us still meet up regularly,” she said.

Since graduating from Seneca in 2014, Ms. Peters has appeared in the television shows Shoresy (Crave/Hulu) and Web of Lies (Discovery+), as well as in the recent film In Her City (Raven West Films Ltd). She also has an extensive list of theatre credits to her name, including roles across the country in plays such as Dreary and IzzyThe Election and Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth. Most recently, she made her debut in a play called Women of the Fur Trade at the Stratford Festival, about 160 kilometres west of Toronto.

“I love the stories and the people that work to tell them. I love sharing my own stories,” she said.

While Ms. Peters has been consistently acting and writing since her time at Seneca, she has also become heavily involved in the Indigenous theatre community, as is reflected by her current role with Toronto-based Native Earth Performing Arts.

Portrait of Joelle Peters

“Just this year, the world premiere of my first play Niizh took place at Native Earth in Toronto. We worked to bring youth from my community into the city and some of them had never seen Indigenous people on stage, let alone seen a play before. There is great power in seeing yourself in media,” she said.

“I’m also really proud of the work that the team on Shoresy (Crave/Hulu) is doing to accurately represent Indigenous people on the show, both on and behind the camera.”

Despite her busy schedule, Ms. Peters remains an active member of the Seneca community, serving on the Acting for Camera and Voice program advisory committee and helping ensure that classes and curriculum are relevant and up to date.

Ms. Peters said those hoping to break into the industry should trust their instincts and pursue the projects that get them the most excited as an artist.

“Success looks different to everybody, do what feels right for you.”

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