Alaska Daily's Grace Dove Was a Teen Reporter Before Playing One on TV – PEOPLE
Glenn Garner is a Writer/Reporter who works heavily with PEOPLE's Movies and TV verticals. Since graduating from Northern Arizona University with a dual major in journalism and photography, he got his professional start at OUT Magazine, The Advocate and Teen Vogue, and he's since consistently kept his finger on the pulse of the LGBTQ community. His first book The Guncle Guide was released in 2020 and was featured on Katie Couric's list of 100 recommended books of the year.
Grace Dove has a lifetime of preparation for her latest role.
Ahead of Thursday’s Alaska Daily fall finale on ABC, the Secwépemc actress reminisces with PEOPLE about working as a teen journalist for her own local paper and what it’s like sharing the screen with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank.
"I was a very, very small part of the system. But at 16, I wanted to be a reporter," says Dove, 31. "I was very interested in getting out of the food industry and getting a real job and sharing my experience and my voice."
She was asked to come back in a year when she had a driver’s license, and she did just that, becoming a community reporter at the local paper in Prince George, British Columbia.
"It was very light," Dove noted. "But I think it shows my drive as just an entrepreneur and someone who just wanted to grow up faster than I was allowed to."
Dove was even offered a full-time job at her local radio station, which she considered taking until her aunt helped convince her at age 20 to pursue her dream of acting.
"That's always been my dream but everyone said it wasn't possible. Every single person that I talked to outside of my family said that was hilarious," says Dove. "As a Secwépemc girl to move from Northern British Columbia to L.A. and become an actress was so far-fetched that it was near impossible, and I said, 'I'm gonna do that.'"
Fast forward to 2015, when Dove landed her breakout role as the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s real-life character Hugh Glass in The Revenant. The movie won DiCaprio his first Academy Award for Best Actor.
"I had no nerves," she recalls of sharing scenes with DiCaprio, 48. "I had nothing but presence and I felt so grounded. And I thought, 'I'm meant to be here.'"
Dove says she’s “just shell-shocked” to have since worked with two other Oscar winners, having starred alongside Forest Whitaker in Netflix’s 2018 apocalyptic drama How It Ends, in addition to her current work with Swank, 48, on Alaska Daily.
She recalls being “so inspired by [Swank’s] ferocious presence and her strength” during her Oscar-winning performance in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby.
"I saw myself in her. And I used to watch her movies with my dad, and — I can't make this up — but we used to study her work and, and see myself in that way," she admits.
"And so to work alongside one of my heroes — don't tell her this, but it's one of the peaks in my career and in my life. I watch her every day on set and we're not chummy, we don't talk about the weekend or hug, or have good times. We do the work," Dove explains. "And I love that about her. She's so driven and focused and profession and it, there's no doubt in my mind why she became who she is."
On Alaska Daily, Dove’s budding young journalist Roz Friendly reluctantly teams up with Swank’s Eileen Fitzgerald, a former high-profile journalist from New York City who moves to Anchorage for a fresh start. Together, they begin investigating the very real crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) after the disappearance of one of Roz’s loved ones.
"It's just such a prevalent fight with our existence. As an Indigenous Secwépemc woman, this has been my life since I was born," says Dove. "So I have lived it, I've experienced it and to finally have it shown in such a broad spectrum, it feels validating, and it feels like we're doing something so much bigger than I've ever seen before."
Dove will explore the topic further in her upcoming project, which she’ll begin after wrapping Alaska Daily. The movie is about Highway 16 (a.k.a. Highway of Tears), a 450-mile stretch of road near where she grew up that has been the last known location for many MMIWGs since the ’70s, as well as Indigenous boys and two-spirits.
The actress will surely bring some of Roz's passion with her as she helms her feature directorial debut. "Roz is feisty and she's powerful and she has a voice, and people listen," she tells PEOPLE. "She's educated, she's sassy, she also knows when to listen."
Roz, notes Dove, is "who I've always wanted to be when I grow up."
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Alaska Daily's fall finale airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
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