“Diggstown” an eye opening experience for Montreal actress Shailene Garnett (trailer)

Montreal-Actor-Shailene-Garnett-Diggstown-min

Montreal-born actress Shailene Garnett knew since the age of three that she wanted take up acting as a profession.

However, it was about seven years ago, when she was working in the rural Quebec town of Thetford Mines as a teacher’s assistant-turned-teacher, where she taught English as a second language, that she was scouted by a talent agent and was asked to audition for a part. Although she didn’t get the part in question, Ms. Garnett knew that this would snowball towards becoming a full time professional actress.

Since that discovery by that agent in Thetford Mines, she has appeared in a number of movies and TV series, such as The Dirties, Shadowhunters, Between and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. And now, she can be seen in the new CBC original drama series Diggstown, which has the distinction of being the first Canadian TV series to have a Black Canadian actor in a leading role. It stars Vinessa Antoine as Marcie Diggs, a former star Nova Scotia-based corporate lawyer who decides to shift the focus of her legal career by joining a legal aid centre in Halifax and working alongside a group of diverse legal do-gooders, cynics and scrappers in their respective quest for justice for their clients in the face of some of the burning issues in today’s society such as racism, poverty and gender bias.

Ms. Garnett’s role in this series is that of Iris Beals, the centre’s receptionist/intake worker. Iris is very clear about the do’s and don’ts of her job and how the centre is run; basically, she runs the show. Without her, the place would fall apart, she said in a recent phone interview.

Filmed on location in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Ms. Garnett believes that she learned a great deal of the hidden history of the province’s Black community while working on Diggstown. Having the series filmed on location in Nova Scotia made the most sense because it had to be as authentic as possible. (Show creator) Floyd Kane was a lawyer beforehand and he grew up in a town in Nova Scotia where he had no running water. He knew exactly what was going on with the Black community in Nova Scotia, and there was no one better who could have told the story that formed the basis of Diggstown, she said.

Working on this series was a huge eye opening experience for me, not to mention quite educational. I was used to the idea that Black culture in Canada evolved from the Caribbean. I never knew that entire Black communities in Nova Scotia were inhabited by people who were descended from slaves. That was something I didn’t learn in school, she added.

Diggstown also stars Natasha Henstridge (Species), C. David Johnson (Street Legal), Stacey Farber (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Brandon Oakes (Arctic Air). It airs every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on CBC Television.

By: Stuart Nulman – [email protected]
24.35 Montreal Times March 30 2019 Diggstown actor Shailene Garnett
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