By Rick Littlechild
Andrea Menard was born in Flin Flon Manitoba, attended the University of Saskatchewan majoring in dramatic arts. Her goal was to be a teacher but before she graduated, Andrea had decided acting was her career of choice. It would prove to be a wise decision, her first role was in SACRED PLACES, staged in Saskatoon.The play was a success and she was praised for her performance. Andrea had a choice she could have moved to Toronto for the acting opportunities, but instead she remained in Saskatoon to stage ‘The Velvet Devil’ a play she had scripted and co-wrote all of the music.
The play was based on Metis woman from Batoche, Velvet Laurent who moves to Toronto, circa 1940 to pursue her career as a jazz singer. Velvet returns twelve years later to attend her mother’s funeral and tries to reconnect with her community.
The Velvet Devil was a huge success, it made it to television a few years later and was nominated for a Gemini award. The sound track was released on C.D. to national acclaim and Andrea Menard’s star was on the rise. Director Ruth Smillie described her acting in glowing terms, ‘’ She’s an astonishing performer, you can’t take your eyes of her when she’s on stage. Watching her makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.’’
A gifted singer who is comfortable in a variety of music styles, she followed her debut jazz influenced C.D with ‘Simple Steps’ a folk with country influences project. The C.D. produced by co-writer Robert Walsh her musical partner has accumulated several awards since it’s release. ‘Outstanding Aboriginal Recording’, ‘Best Folk album’, 100 Years won for ‘Best Single’. These are the kind of accolades that would send most singing careers in flight, for Andrea it was an endorsement she never expected, music showcased her depth of talent but her first love will always be acting.
‘’Singing helped develop my confidence on stage, but it’s something I do for fun when I’m washing dishes. Acting is really what I want to do. My whole reason for being in theatre is to touch people’s lives and possibly make them look at themselves in a different way.’’
The Velvet Touch served as a springboard for her career, her next role was in the groundbreaking series MOCASSIN FLATS, her role as detective Amanda Strongeagle garnished a Gemini nomination for best actress and lasted for three years setting the stage for her new television series RABBIT FALL.
Andrea’s character Tara Wheaton a policewoman who is banished to the small town of Rabbit Fall because of a professional indiscretion. In the opening scene of the first episode she stops by the roadside to take a picture of herself in front of the Welcome to Rabbit Fall sign. When she checks her digital camera to check out the picture, she notices a dark figure in the background watching her.
Unaware of what kind of trouble she’s getting into, she goes looking in the woods for him, she doesn’t find him but when she returns to the roadside her SUV has been stolen.
Tara is given a ride into town by constable Bob; a rather shadowy policeman whose wry wit serves as a mask that will come off before the series ends. When Tara arrives in town, she finds her SUV parked in front of the police station, her first omen that something strange is going on in Rabbit Fall. She is given her first case, a missing local girl with a distraught brother who is constantly reminding the police of their failure in finding his sister. Her second case is a house party that ends in murder. The investigation leads Tara into the forest where she makes a disturbing discovery, one that links both cases and ties Tara directly to them.
RABBIT FALL promises to be the frontrunner for APTN ‘s new season and it is the first time Andrea Menard has the lead role.
‘’Over the years I’ve had a lot of experience which has made me ready to take on the lead role.’’ Said Andrea and judging by the first episode, Rabbit Fall may take Andrea Menard’s career to the next level and consolidate APTN as the avatar for developing Native and Metis talent.