INTERVIEW: Actor, Sarah Podemski, Talks SyFy’s Resident Alien, Indigenous Representation and Totem Designs

As Indigenous representation continue to grow in movies and television, Sarah Podemski, an Anishinaabe/Ashkenazi actor, joins SyFy’s Resident Alien. Read more below about her role in the show as well as her own personal pursuits and goals as an actor.

Hi Sarah, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Tell us about SyFy’s comedy/drama series, Resident Alien. You play a character named Kayla, what kind of person is she and what role will play into the story?

This show is a mash up of comedy, sci-fi, heartfelt drama, and total insanity, it’s a real trip! The character I play, Kayla, is awesome! She is funny, and tough, a great mother, and a support for Asta at a pivotal point in the show.

Resident Alien’s premise is so funny and interesting, especially with Alan Tudyk playing the “resident alien”, Harry Vanderspeigle. What drew you to this unique series? What has been your favorite part about it?

I loved the way this role was written! It was written by an Indigenous writer named Tazbah Chavez, and she did such a beautiful job of creating a multi dimensional character. It’s very rare to find an Indigenous character written by Indigenous writers, unfortunately, so I was so happy to hear she was involved, and it made it that much more exciting to get the job! My favorite part of the whole show is the Indigenous representation. The show’s creator Chris Sheridan made it a priority to portray an Indigenous family, who are written with such love and care. It was so exciting to see on TV for the first time in a long time! 

What is it like getting to play alongside actors like Alan Tudyk, Sara Tomko and the rest of the cast members?

Everyone on the show is incredibly talented, and it was a lot of fun to go to work everyday, and laugh, and see what would come out of the performances! So many moments were unscripted, or improvised, and it was always exciting to see what would happen! 

When did you know you wanted to become an actor? What inspired you to pursue it as a career?

I went to an audition with my sister when I was 12, and they were actually looking for a young actor to play the role my sister was auditioning for but 5 years younger! We both got the role, and it was my first experience on set, and I loved it! I took some time off to go to high school, and enjoy being a teenager, and when I came back to it in my early 20’s, I realized it was more than just acting, I wanted to make sure I was representing Indigenous characters, and stories. It became a great platform to amplify Indigenous voices, and share our authentic narratives through film and television! 

Do you have any goals in your acting career, or a dream project you would like to go after one day?

I have been producing recently, and I absolutely love it. I love experiencing the building blocks of a production, and being on the other side, and seeing how important every single step is. It’s unfortunate society only recognizes the performers, because there are such incredible people behind the projects, building these stories and worlds for us, it’s a truly collaborative process and I would love to continue producing projects with a focus on Indigenous narratives! 

There has been a growing community of Indigenous creators within the movie and television industry and more and more are able to tell their stories on screen. For you personally, what do you hope to represent as an artist in mainstream media?

It’s a really exciting time for our community! My biggest hope is that we get a chance to share our unique perspective with a larger audience, and we get to be hired on projects that want to include us rather than exploit our stories. We have a saying, No stories about us, without us. That’s my hope for the future. More inclusion, and more stories where we get to just be us. A regular family, or doctors or lawyers, or a romantic love story. It’s important for us to address issues facing the Indigenous community, and use this platform to amplify these issues, but it’s also important for us to play everyday characters with everyday problems! 

You have your own business called Totem Designs. Can you tell us about it and why you started it? Where can people find your creations?

It came out of me seeing so many non-Inidgenous artists appropriating our culture, and I decided to stop complaining and do something about it! So I started making dreamcatchers! They have a modern twist, and I use semi precious stones for healing. I just launched my website, and the response has been great. I find so much joy in it, and it’s such a nice meditative practice for me to have for myself. Being an actor, I am very much at the mercy of people’s decisions, and having a business of my own where I can be creative in any way I like, makes it easier to balance the negatives of not so lovely parts of being an actor! and on Instagram @_totem_designs_ 

Lastly, if you had to pick one superpower and become a superhero, which would it be and why?

Love Spreader! We need so much love right now, this world is dealing with a lot of trauma, and it needs some healing and lots of love. Maybe like a special wand where I can point to someone, and they will be showered with love, and an amazing costume of course!

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