“Frontier” Star Jessica Matten Discusses Her Character, Honouring Her Culture & Working With Jason Momoa
Jessica Matten, a Canadian born actress from Edmonton, Alberta is devoted to honouring her native culture as she stars in Frontier. While playing an inspiring role of Sokanon, an Indigenous warrior, Matten brings fourth an interesting edge that is rooted from her own personal identity. With the recent release of Frontier’s second season, Real Style got a chance to speak with Jessica Matten about it.
Real Style: Can you give us some insight on your character on the Frontier?
Jessica Matten: I play Sokanon, who is an Ojibwe warrior. Her family was brutally murdered when she was young. She is raised by a collected group of warriors known as the Black Wolf Company; a mix of frontiersmen and fur tradesmen. With season two, her path begins to change and shift as she questions the underlying motives of the people around her. A major theme throughout the season starts when she encounters a young Ingenious girl who is involved in human trafficking. That is where Sokanon’s path completely changes and she realizes what her purpose in life is.
Real Style: Are there any personal connections that draw you to Sokanon’s character?
Jessica Matten: Absolutely, when I was pursing acting, or even before my acting career, I was always constantly working with the Ingenious youth. My mom and I have a company called Lemon Cree, and we have been travelling to isolated communities across Canada, trying to empower the youth and getting the adults to focus on their health and well being. My purpose in life has always been about helping our people find justice. And so, in a lot of ways, with the show and this character, I feel like I’m helping play a part in showing justice in what it means to be an Ingenious woman. Even if its a character in the 1800s, I feel like the role has helped humanize the experience of being an Ingenious person in North America.
Real Style: How do you typically prepare for the role?
Jessica Matten: The role is physical and I’ve always been involved in sports and maintaining that outside of acting. So, that’s always been there. In terms of separation, I just feel like any frustration that I’ve felt in our current political situation, including the missing murders of the Ingenious women and what our people are going through, I just find that stuff is so easy to connect with Sokanon because she is going through very similar experiences.
Real Style: What do you think of how the Indigenous people are represented in our general media?
Jessica Matten: You know, the good thing is that from what I’ve seen in the last couple of years, with the help of social media, people have been able to voice their opinions and the Ingenious people have been able to have more of a voice. That has immensely helped to break prejudices, stereotypes, putting pressure on the depiction of the Ingenious people on screen, and has helped to shift how we are being represented. I think it is a beautiful time to be a part of that movement. I still think there is one hundred percent room to grow but it is happening. I was fortunate to play a couple of roles last year in another project, one of them was a 20th Century Fox film coming out hopefully next year, where I was booked not because of my Indigenous heritage but because I was just the right actress for the role. So, you know, these things are shifting. There is a huge shift within the writer’s realm, and with the creators of the shows too. I just applaud the fans, and audiences are being vocal on social media to help make this change happen.
Real Style: Is there is a specific genre you like working within as an actress?
Jessica Matten: I am definitely all about the drama. I love action as well, but I’ve always been attracted to art house type of films. Before I knew I ever wanted to become an actor, I watched classic films growing up. We weren’t allowed to rent cartoons or anything like that. I’ve always had this appreciation for film and cinema, so definitely the genre of drama and any stories that touch on whats going on in our world have always interested me the most.
Real Style: What would you say was your favourite role to play?
Jessica Matten: Definitely so far Frontier. Again, because I get a mix of both the best worlds. You know, action and drama. I am working with an incredibly supportive group of writers and producers who are so open and willing to support the Ingenious experience. So, there is a lot of room for input and they are so willing and open to that.
Real Style: What is it like to work with Jason Mamoa?
Jessica Matten: From day one, we hit it off with this brother-sister kind of energy and that’s the dynamic we have on and off the show. He has just been super supportive and a joy to work with. He is such a leader. He is very giving and a big family man. He is always on the phone with his lovely wife. He is all around a good guy and full of energy.
Real Style: Is there anything else we can expect in this season of Frontier?
Jessica Matten: I learned two languages in a month for it. I had to learn it pretty quickly. I learnt Cree and Ojibway. I love languages and that has always been a goal of mine to speak another one. This show has been a blessing and I’ve had the opportunity to do that. I am not too sure how many television shows have shown Ingenious people having full out conversations in their language. I know a lot of movies have shown that, but again, I applaud the team for including this into the season.
Frontier airs Wednesday on Discovery Canada.
Photo: Discovery Canada
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