By Bailey Sutherland
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A 12-year-old girl from Sturgeon Lake First Nation is taking the entertainment industry by storm, paving the way for Indigenous representation in mainstream media and inspiring young First Nations children all over Canada.
Meadow Kingfisher will be debuting as Mel on Treehouse’s preschool cartoon series Builder Brothers Dream Factory, premiering in Canada on March 26. The series is inspired by HGTV’s reality show Property Brothers and features the show’s hosts Drew and Jonathan Scott as kids that use their imaginations to solve problems around their neighbourhood.
Mel is one of Drew and Jonathan’s best friends in the show and is portrayed as Indigenous in the series. Much like Meadow herself, Mel is a powwow dancer who loves her culture and teaching her friends about it.
“Meadow’s character Mel is such a cool kid. We have never seen an Indigenous character like her before and we think it’s going to be so exciting to have Indigenous representation like this in a cartoon that we know will be wildly popular,” said Madison Kingfisher, Meadow’s mom.
Madison mentioned that her husband Harlan, who grew up in Sturgeon Lake First Nation, became emotional when he realized what a huge step this is in terms of mainstream media representation and how much something like this would have meant to him as a child.
“Every kid who sees Mel in this show is going to think she’s the coolest,” continued Madison. “How amazing is that going to be for Indigenous children, to have someone who looks like them, who talks like them, and who shares similar cultural experiences as them, be this amazing inspiring character in a cartoon.”
Meadow said she loves the character she’s playing because she feels like it’s someone a lot of Indigenous kids are going to look up to.
“I’ve never seen an Indigenous girl on a Treehouse cartoon before and it’s really cool for me to be playing her,” said Meadow. “I love it so much.”
Meadow has been a dancer almost her entire life and only recently got into acting two years ago. After her mom saw a call out for Indigenous artists on Instagram, Meadow’s mom filmed her performing a lyrical solo in the living room of their Edmonton home and submitted it. The casting director, moved by how much emotion was in Meadow’s performance, asked if Meadow would be interested in acting instead of dancing, and the rest is history.
“We hadn’t really considered acting,” said Madison. “You always kind of assume, living in Edmonton, there’s not a lot of acting jobs. We didn’t realize we could travel so much for it, or that there would be interest in flying Meadow around to different jobs.”
Meadow has an agent that’s based in Vancouver and was the one that encouraged her to audition for Mel. Following that audition, Meadow participated in a Zoom callback, which landed her the role that she’s been working on for a year.
Meadow’s first acting job was a short story and music video called The Meeting Place, which can be viewed at Fort Edmonton Park. Two years ago, Meadow booked the lead role in a feature film called The Beehive that is set to premier this year. The family just recently arrived home from Greece, where Meadow filmed a supporting lead role in another feature film that is being prepared to submit to the Cannes Film Festival.
The dedicated 12-year-old has been doing three to four auditions a week for roles across Canada and the world and hopes she’s able to continue doing what she loves for the rest of her life.
“I just love acting on set, meeting different actors and telling stories,” said Meadow. “It’s so much fun.”
Acting has opened lots of opportunities for Meadow and her family and inspired her younger siblings to join her in the industry too.
Meadow is the second oldest of four children, with the youngest three represented by the same agent. Her older brother isn’t a performer but loves to play hockey, said Madison.
Performing has always been a huge part of Meadow’s life. From the time she was a baby, dancing in the living room and singing Disney songs, to going up on stage for dance competitions as a child.
Madison said her daughter was shy growing up but performing brought her out of her shell.
“She’d go up on stage and have this giant personality where she would be performing her little heart out, it was amazing to watch that transformation,” recalled Madison. “Through dancing, she stopped being that shy little girl that she used to be when she was a preschooler; it made her so confident.”
While the family was only able to share the news of Meadow’s role as Mel a few days ago, Madison said there has been an outpouring of support from everyone in Sturgeon Lake.
“Everybody from the community is sharing stories about it, sharing my husband’s Facebook post about it and just really cheering her on,” said Madison. “They’re really excited to have somebody from their community represent them on such a big scale.”
Bailey Sutherland is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the PRINCE ALBERT DAILY HERALD. The LJI program is federally funded.