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Vancouver’s Carmen Moore previews the fourth season of 'Blackstone'

Several months have passed since Carmen Moore wrapped on the fourth season of Blackstone , but the experience – exhausting as it was – is still vivid in her mind.
Carmen Moore

Several months have passed since Carmen Moore wrapped on the fourth season of Blackstone, but the experience – exhausting as it was – is still vivid in her mind.

“We shoot eight, one-hour episodes in six weeks, and it’s an adrenaline rush for the whole six weeks that we’re going,” says the Vancouver actress in a recent phone chat. “And then, it ends, and then you have time to process your emotions and what you’ve been through, and then you sleep for two weeks.”

Blackstone’s shooting schedule is frantic, but the breathless pace is very much in line with its heart-thumping, gut-punching on-screen intensity.

APTN’s flagship series is set on a fictional reserve in Alberta and follows the complex and intersecting lives of many of its residents.

Filmed in and around Edmonton, the drama – gritty, violent, and peppered with salty language – has never shied away from exploring the emotional thrust of weighty issues, including sexual and domestic abuse, drug addiction, and the tragic legacy of residential schools.

“Every storyline that we deal with on Blackstone, our writers have taken straight from the headlines,” says Moore. “The things that we deal with on Blackstone are things that are happening or have happened recently.”

Season 4 – which kicks off on Nov. 11 – is no different. Upcoming storylines will take viewers into the foster care system and Canada’s prisons.

“We only make up four per cent of the population of Canada, but seventy per cent of the incarcerated population is First Nations,” says Moore, who is of Wet’suwet’en, Scottish, and Irish ancestry. “That’s a big deal.”

On Blackstone, Moore is Leona Stoney, a school counselor who, in the first season, is elected to serve as chief.

“It was kind of cool because not only did Leona not know what she was doing in the first season, but I didn’t, either,” she says.

Moore knew very little about band politics. She hadn’t grown up on a reserve. “So it was a learning process for me as the actor, as it was for Leona being thrown into the role of a new chief on the block,” says Moore. 

She’s loathe to pick a favourite storyline (“When you’re dealing with this kind of subject matter, it’s hard to say, ‘oh, that was my favourite’”), but when pressed, she says that she enjoyed the romance with current chief Victor (portrayed by Nathaniel Arcand), and playing all the notes in the relationship between Leona and her sister, Gail (Michelle Thrush).

“I’ve known Michelle since I was 17, and there was that chemistry and familiarity with her when we first started working together, but we’ve become so close playing sisters that we’ve almost become sisters,” says Moore, who’s taken home two Leo Awards for her portrayal, including one earlier this year. 

Moore grew up in Burnaby and cut her acting teeth in Vancouver theatre productions (“There’s nothing like stepping on to a stage and absorbing the energy from the audience and then feeding that back to them”). Her breakout role was on Citytv’s Godiva’s, where she played Simone, a sarcastic and mysterious bartender.

Her credit list includes scene-stealing roles on Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Andromeda, and Flash Gordon, as well as a Leo-nominated run as tough-as-nails office manager Loreen on CBC’s Arctic Air, which ended after three seasons this past spring.

For now, the Vancouver-based actress is auditioning, working on her fitness, raising her teenaged son, and looking forward to hearing what Blackstone’s fans think about the new season.

“Anybody can relate to anything that’s going on on Blackstone,” says Moore. “Anybody can relate to dysfunction in the family and the issues in relationships. Anybody can relate to having someone in their life that is a drug addict or an alcoholic. Anybody can relate to corrupt politics. Anybody can relate to knowing somebody in the foster care system. All of these themes can be seen in any culture, anywhere.

“We just happen to be set on a reserve.”

Blackstone airs Tuesdays at 9pm on APTN.