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North of Hollywood North

Becoming a professional actor can take years of hard work. Training isn't cheap, and the work generally doesn't pay well. The taxing roundabout of auditions and constant rejections can take its toll.

Becoming a professional actor can take years of hard work.

Training isn’t cheap, and the work generally doesn’t pay well.

The taxing roundabout of auditions and constant rejections can take its toll.

Many actors end up tending bar or waiting tables just to make ends meet while they pursue their dream.

Then there’s the path of Kestrel Martin.

The 12-year-old actress, who made her feature film debut in The Mountie at age 10, was simply in the right pace at the right time.

“They wanted to cast her right away,” said her mother Josie Martin.

It didn’t hurt that she had an in with the local casting director.

Martin was taking an acting class at Yukon College as a requirement of the education program she was taking.

Her acting teacher was casting local actors for the film

“She knew I had kids and asked if Kestrel wanted to come and audition,” said Martin.

While many actors put auditioning right up there with a dentist appointment, Kestrel had nothing but good things to say about it.

“It was fun,” she said. “I met some really nice people.”

Actually making the film was a little more gruelling.

Other than memorizing her lines, Kestrel had to stop washing her hair for days at a time to prepare for the role.

“They like killed my hair they made it really fluffy like I hadn’t brushed it in a while, and they put dirt on my face and they made my teeth black and stuff,” she said.

The filming took place pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

To get to the set it was a two-hour drive to the end of the Annie Lake Road, and then a 30-minute hike after that.

There were quads that ferried people and equipment to the set, but when it rained “the mud came up to your knees,” sad Martin.

Despite the remote location, both Kestrel and her mother enjoyed their time on set.

Martin had to be there on set with Kestrel as a guardian.

She arrived everyday with her infant daughter, Kenyon, in tow.

“As a mom with Kenyon, I was looked after,” she said.

With shooting running off and on for an entire month, Martin had to effectively quit her job at a local preschool.

It wasn’t a tough decision to make, she said.

“Without the parental support an opportunity could not be created for Kestrel,” said Martin. “I lost a little bit of wages, but that was no big deal.

“For me, there’s no price for that sort of an opportunity, especially up here in the Yukon.”

It’s led to some other potential opportunities.

Martin has spoken to Andrew Walker - the star of The Mountie - about the possibility of Kestrel playing the role of his daughter in his next film.

Casting for that film will be much more competitive, but it’s not something that Martin or Kestrel are loosing any sleep over.

“If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t It doesn’t,” said Martin. “It’s not one of those things that’s a big push for us.”

Since she filmed The Mountie, Kestrel also landed roles in two other locally produced short films.

When she was cast in Fragments, a short horror film, the blood and guts gave Martin pause.

“When Neil (the director of Fragments) approached me, I had a slew of questions for them about actors acting in horror movies and the psychological after effects,” she said. “They just assured me that it ends up being more humorous than anything for the actors. It’s more like a big Halloween show.”

For Kestrel that’s exactly what it was.

She’s even kept some of the prosthetic blisters with plans to use them for her Halloween costume this year.

The only traumatic part was when she had to put fake blood up her nose.

“It was really nasty,” she said. “I didn’t like the nose stuff.”

Most actors claim they hate to watch themselves on screen, but Kestrel wasn’t fazed by it when she went to the premiere of The Mountie in Whitehorse.

“I was a lot better than I thought I was going to be,” she said.

At the screening she got a little taste of the limelight.

She tried to keep anonymous by wearing a hat with her hair down, but it didn’t work.

Everyone recognized her.

“I was the only kid there,’ she said.

Kestrel prefers dance and drawing to acting, but doesn’t have any plans to becoming a performer or artist.

When asked what she wants’ to be when she grows up, her ambitions include everything from psychologist to animal trainer.

Waitressing wasn’t anywhere on her list.

Contact Josh Kerr at