Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat is an actor/musician from Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Harlan got his start in entertainment in the music business, playing the guitar, bass and drums. He also sings backup vocals, unless he’s singing karaoke. Then he’s the lead.
Harlan got his start in television, appearing in an episode on the Canadian crime drama Tribal. His next two roles were much bigger. He recently appeared as Sanguinet on the Letterkenney spin off Shoresy. Next, Harlan can be seen in the latest Predator film, Prey.
I got an opportunity to meet Harlan and talk a little about how he was discovered and how much fun he’s having in the TV and film industry.
Noetta Harjo: Hi Harlan, How are you?
Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat: I’m good.
NH: I’m excited to talk to you.
HBK: I’m excited too! I’m glad to be a part of this.
NH: Let’s start by telling me how you got into acting.
HBK: I love telling this story. It’s kind of a long story. So on my reserve, there’s a provincial park here that has a golf course. I was working at a golf course as a bartender/server. somebody just comes in one day with their father, having lunch. I’m cracking jokes with them and it turns out that this person is a scouting agent. His name is Joel Sturrock, his dad’s name is Dan. He wasn’t out looking for talent that day, he was actually there just to have lunch with his father. His father was nagging him, telling him, “talk to him. He has that celebrity look. And he’s charming.”
In the end, when I’m ringing up their bill, he asks me “hey have you ever acted before? Have you ever been in this industry of any sort?” I said no. The biggest thing I had done was just being on stage playing guitar with my band at the time. I told him I did drama like grade 10 but that’s about it. He told me he had this audition for Outlander, shot in Scotland. I gave him a call and we chatted a bit. I told him I’m interested. This was back in 2019, before Covid, so I’m still fairly new to the industry.
A year later I auditioned for this TV show called Tribal. I booked a different role than the one I auditioned for. It just started from there and now I’m doing interviews.
NH: Now you’re on Shoresy and you have a film coming out soon. Correct?
HBK: Yeah I actually just got the go ahead to talk about his film it’s called Prey. I actually auditioned for Shorsey while I was shooting Prey and it’s just surreal. I didn’t know what I was auditioning for at the time though. I knew it was called Shoresy … you know … Letterkenny …
My audition was with Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney, Wayne and Glen on Letterkenny. Glen is my favorite character, obviously I was super nervous. But they were super easy to talk to. We just dropped all the professional stuff and just hung out. The next thing you know, the audition is over and I’m like, “Oh!, OK, See you guys later.”
NH: That’s neat. And auditioning for the Shoresy and filming Prey at the same time … that’s an interesting dynamic to jump to.
HBK: Yeah, a really big jump because … in the synopsis, Prey is based on like 300 years ago and Shoresy is based in modern Canada. It was a really big jump because I had to change my tone. I was used to talking like how my character talks in Prey. And then having to jump to … I tried to make Sanguinet sound a little more innocent than how I do now. It was a big jump for sure. I don’t know if it’s jumping down from something or jumping up to something more elevated. It’s either one of the two. That’s how it felt.
NH: Let’s talk about your character on Shorsey, Sanguinet. What is the best thing about this character?
HBK: Oh. His braids. And that suit. Sanger in that suit! Our producer, Kaniehtiio Horn, who plays Tanis in Letterkenny; she’s the one who was like, “Yeah, the girls will go crazy over the braids and the medallion. So, thank you auntie Kaniehtiio!
NH: The suit and the braids looked really good. The thing I like about Sanguinet is that he’s no to embedded in Indigenous culture. He’s just one of the guys on the team who gets this amazing opportunity to be the coach. How did you make him stand out?
HBK: It’s like you said, he’s there just like in real life. We’re here. You’ll find Indigenous players that play for a team that is mostly white or other cultures. And there’s a few Indigenous people. We’re there. In real life. I think what’s really important about it is there’s no political message. There’s no, ‘power to the people’ kind of thing. It’s just … we’re there. We’re all coexisting. And that’s the part that I really find important about it and great about Sanguinet. He’s there. And all of sudden he’s best friends with this Shoresy dude.
NH: I like seeing Sanguinet’s growth. When you meet him he’s pretty quiet, which is true to life for most Indigenous people until you get to know us. It was nice seeing him burst out of his shell.
HBK: I think that’s one part that was great about it. In real life, I learned to be more outgoing because of being a bartender. Before that I was pretty much Sanguinet in the first two episodes. I was always trying to get a word in but being built to shut up. It totally makes sense. And I’m glad it’s like that because a lot of Indigenous folks will relate to it, I hope.
RELATED: Read all about Harlan’s character Sanguinet in our Shoresy recaps!
NH: I know that Shoresy just premiered, but have you heard if we’re going to get a season two?
HBK: No, right now we’re just waiting. I’m in the same boat. I feel like Sanguinet has more of a story to tell now that he’s out of his shell. I mean, he’s yelling at these pros, who are pros in real life. We had ex NHL players, pro-players from the Quebec senior league. And then there’s me, not a hockey player. I’m a volleyball player. There’s one scene where I’m having to shout at these pros. It was pretty scary. But at the end of the day, they were like, “Harlan, it’s hard to get hockey players pumped up like this in real life.” And in that scene, they all felt really like, “Let’s go! Let’s go play some hockey!” And when they yelled “cut,” the energy just died down. I was like, “Oh, that’s right, we’re acting. I’m not a real coach.”
NH: I’m hoping with the Letterkenny connection people kind of gravitate towards Shoresy and be like, “OK we need more,” and just demand it.
HBK: The creators words themselves, with Letterkenny you can just jump into any season in any episode. You don’t need any prelude to it, because they’ll reference anything and they’ll also just explain it at the same time. But with Shoresy, if you hope into episode three, you’ll be like “wait, when did these guys get here,” “when did Sanguinet become the coach.” You have to start from episode one. It’s more episodic and story driven.
NH: You mentioned the film Prey. Where I’m from, that movie is already a big deal because I live close to the Comanche Nation. Tell me what you can about that film. Starting with where was it filmed?
HBK: It was filmed around Calgary by the mountains mainly. We shared a few locations with the Hell on Wheels and The Revenant actually. It was a great experience but when you’re by the mountains, it can be either really hot or really cold. But, I learned so much stuff, like hand to hand combat and how to use a bow and arrow but … not, like for hunting.
I was in the teaser trailer, in the war paint. I got the trademark three lasers on my forehead .. that’s me. That’s my character. I can’t say the character name right now, but yes I’m that guy.
NH: That’s great. Were there cultural advisors on set for Prey and Shoresy?
HBK: Yes, that’s what Kaniehtiio’s role was. She was the Indigenous consultant for the Indigenous characters. On Prey, we had Jhane Myers. She worked on The Magnificent Seven with Denzel Washington, when he had to speak Comanche in that film. She was great! She brought some dried jerky that was awesome! I felt like I was at home.
NH: Have you done any work behind the camera? If not, do you have any aspirations to do so?
HBK: Actually yes. Me and my brother, we’ve been talking a lot. We want to find the rights to these stories and see if we can write our own screenplay. And we can co-direct it or he can be the director, I can be the producer or vice versa. Or even if we both star in it. We want to be able to tell stories.
There’s this book called Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. That’s one story that we feel would be powerful for not just the world, but also the Indigenous community. If you read the book, you’ll understand what I mean.
NH: Who are some of the Indigenous creatives that you would like to work with?
HBK: Right now, Adam Beach is one of the big ones. That’s why I rock my hair down, like Victor in Smoke Signals. When I had the braids, I put on glasses, so I can look like Thomas and Victor, all in one person. Evan Adams, who played Thomas. I’d like to work with him too, for sure. And obviously, Sterlin Harjo. Reservation Dogs. Them. The whole crew and cast. Our producer, Kaniehtiio, Auntie Kaniehtiio.
NH: Yes, Kaniehtiio played Deer Lady in Reservation Dogs. My next question was if there was a show you wanted to work on, but you answered that. Are there any film franchises you’d like to be a part of?
HBK: Lord of the Rings. I’m wearing the Evenstar necklace right here. And Star Wars too but … they have so much content coming out. They have this show coming out that’s based hundreds of years before the prequel era that we know. I’m a nerd, geek myself … hard core. Ha ha. Oh! And Power Rangers! I’ve heard they’re coming out with a new universe on Netflix. Not just the TV series but movies as well. So, those three: Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. That’s the trifecta right there
NH: Do you have any advice for the Indigenous youth who want to be in television and film?
HBK: Keep trying stuff. Don’t settle on one path. It’s OK to stray away from your path. And if that doesn’t work out just go back to your roots and keep going forward. Because you know, if that doesn’t work out then you have a lesson to share with the other youth and a story to tell like myself.
I thought I wanted to be a teacher I tried university. I wanted to be a professional volleyball player and that didn’t workout. And I dropped out of college. Now I have these stories to tell like that. I did go back to college but it was to be a bartender. I started bartending. I thought I wanted to make that my life because I know that bartending can make good money with tips and paychecks, especially in cities. That all led me to what I’m doing now which is great and I wanna keep doing this. I tell people I’m an actor but I’d rather say I’m an artist.
Just try new things. Don’t be shy. If an opportunity presents itself, take it. And if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Just keep trying. As Yoda says, do or do not, there is no try.
NH: Yes, famous words from a wise elder. Ha ha! Where can people find you on social Media
HBK: You can find me on Instagram, @harlankytwayhat and on Twitter @HKytwayhat
NH: Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you!
HBK: My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Take care!
You can catch Harlan on Shoresy Season 1, now streaming. And in the film Prey, premiering on August 5, both on Hulu.
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