Dustin Milligan can’t overstate how much the support of other Yellowknifers has encouraged him in his career.
The Yellowknife-born actor has appeared in scores of movies and television shows, including Schitt’s Creek – the CBC comedy that broke records for its nine Emmy sweep at the 2020 award ceremony and is nominated another 22 times at the upcoming 2021 Canadian Screen Awards.
Now living in Los Angeles, Milligan hasn’t forgotten his Northern roots.
“I think anyone who is reading this right now knows that Yellowknife and the North is a special place,” he said. “We are all lucky to either currently be living there or … to (have experienced) the community.”
Since saying farewell to Schitt’s Creek, Milligan has made his foray into the world of animation as super-agent Jon Le Bon. The show, based on a comic series from French Canadian cartoonist Alex A., features Milligan as crime-fighting moose Jon.
Voice acting in animation, Milligan said, is a medium he has always wanted to pursue.
“As a kid growing up, cartoons are such a heavy part of your formative years.
Working on Jon Le Bon has been such a fun and different kind of experience,” he said.
Due to stay-at-home safety precautions, however, Milligan has been recording the voice of Jon from a closet rather than the usual studio space.
“That’s where all the heroic hijinks originate from,” Milligan joked.
Premiering next week, Milligan will also star in the new sitcom Rutherford Falls.
He describes the comedy as a revisionist history from a white descendant of colonizers – a character played by Ed Helms – and his relationship with his childhood best friend, an Indigneous woman – portrayed by Jana Schmieding – fighting to have her history become more visible in the town.
Milligan plays a New York reporter who comes to cover what he thinks is a by-the-book story of the town and is surprised by what he finds instead.
Giving back to Yellowknife
Having flourished in Yellowknife’s arts community, Milligan is dedicated to helping pave similar paths for his successors.
For over a decade, he has run the ‘Enough Talk Hurry Up and Do it Already’ arts scholarship for graduating students of Sir John Franklin High School pursuing post-secondary studies in the arts.
“It’s tough sometimes to enter into a field where there’s no concrete, surefire way to succeed,” he said. “I just want to encourage kids, as much as possible, to explore that creative option. Because it is a real job, it can actually work,” Milligan assured.
For his 35th birthday last July, Milligan encouraged social media followers and fans to donate to Yellowknife charities since “there’s a lot of people doing a lot of good work.”
“I think we’re all better off if we’re supporting each other one way or another,” he said.
Though Milligan hasn’t been able to return to Yellowknife since before the pandemic, he said he looks forward to returning home, possibly during the Christmas holiday.
“I love Yellowknife. I can’t wait to get back home,” he said.