Talent on Tap – Alana Hawley Purvis Takes the Driver’s Seat In Range Roads

When you’re young, you can dream big. Your mind is experiencing everything for the first time and your being inspired with moving pictures, landscapes, music and people. What will stick and what will be ignored is a parent’s best guess. The more experiences the more chances of a young mind latching onto an interest and molding it into their own. Some young children become musical prodigies, mathematicians, artists and actors. At a young age, you already know that one thing that keeps you up at night, that you can’t stop thinking about or doing at every free moment. For me, it was cartoons but for Alana Hawley Purvis, it was acting. At three years old, she had convinced her sister to direct her in a make-believe film, but her sister always gave Alana the role of the dog. She would have to wait until she was 9 yrs. old to take her acting to the next level. She participated in the Speech – Arts – Drama program in Prince George, BC and never looked back.


Alana is in the newly released feature, Range Roads, written, directed by Kyle Thomas. It’s about an actress who tries to reconnect with her estranged brother after their parents die in a car accident. I’ve only seen the trailer and Alana’s performance is outstanding with heavyweight contention. Although she’s only performed in two feature films, she was already nominated for a CSA Award for a performance by an Actress in Leading Role in Range Roads. Alana is still navigating the TV and film waters but she developed her acting craft on stage… in theatre.  I believe you can always tell when an actor in a film has a theatre background. Their performance is cut from another cloth. When Alana started production on Range Roads, she had just given birth to twin girls. They were 8-mths old when she started filming. Certainly, not an easy task but one chosen for the love of the arts.


RANGE ROADS is available on the Super Channel, Hoopla and US Prime this week and in Alberta theatres this May. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to reach Alana at her home in Vancouver, to ask her all about the nomination for her stellar performance in this soon to be classic film. It was a lot of fun and incredibly engaging. Roll the tape!


HNMAG “Congratulations on your nomination for your performance in a leading role on Range Roads. You must have really loved this story, to bring out such a strong performance.”

ALANA “Oh yes, even at the start of it, Kyle Thomas, who’s the writer, director, producer on the film had approached me long before we started making the film. We were able to carve out the story and create the character together. It was an actor’s dream to be able to mold the creation of the film alongside the director. We had worked on a previous film together.”


HNMAG “This was quite a dramatic performance that you needed to bring.”

ALANA “There are so many people that are beautifully supported but the reaction from some have said that it was a hard film to watch. It’s a slice of life about people/Frankie in particular, confronting their past. It’s dealing with depression, facing one’s fears and learning to love yourself again – it’s pretty dramatic.”


HNMAG “How did you feel after you were completely finished shooting? Was it emotionally draining?”

ALANA “It really was, I was surprised with twins prior to filming, so they were 8-months old during the filming of this movie. It was one of those crazy decisions, where you dive into this character, who’s the anti-maternal (laughing), then go home to infant twins that you’re breastfeeding. It was quite a big head spin during the shooting of it. When it was done, it was a very strange adjustment to let that go, considering we’d been working on it for years. To go back to a life that is quite opposite of the one Frankie would be living. I believe I’m in every scene of the film, which is a gift as an actor but when you’re that committed, you’re so connected to the crew, the actors, the producers, the director Kyle. Saying goodbye to that was so hard – I cried (laughing).”


HNMAG “I’ve only had the opportunity to watch the trailer but the film has amazing production value.”

ALANA “It was still a very small budget, so it was just amazing what they were able to do. Our cinematographer (Mike McLaughlin) was amazing and as a person familiar with the NDC and the budget, it turned out amazing! It also speaks for the talent behind it. It was a product of love and we’re very proud of where it’s gotten to.”


HNMAG “Where did you shoot the film?”

ALANA “We shot it all over rural Alberta; Carstairs, old Alberta, we were in Drumheller, Calgary and on our Call Sheet, it would say, ‘meet at intersection, range road 524 and range road 17 (laughing). It was rural Alberta and at the heart of it, is rural Alberta. It was a beautiful and amazing landscape to be shooting in and it’s so interesting to be part of those communities, especially when you’re in a café run by Sally and Joe, who were born there. It was very cool to find that aspect of Canada, which I’m very big into.”                


HNMAG “Have you done much work in Toronto?”

ALANA “Yes, I actually started my career out there with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival out in Stratford, Ontario. It’s the biggest theatre company in Canada and I got to work with people like Christopher Plummer. It’s a really amazing theatre with a bunch of Shakespeare nerds. It’s my obsession. When I finished my undergrad, I started out in Stratford. When you’re in Stratford, you’re basically in Toronto and I’ve had the pleasure of working the stage there. I spent the first 4-5 years of my career out there, then moving around Alberta before getting my Masters in the US. Since I had the kids in Vancouver, I’ve been dabbling in more TV and film work – I love it and I’m so happy to be here, especially given the art community and the film/tv community. It’s amazing what they’re able to do.”

I can definitely echo Alana’s statement, in that Vancouver has a wealth of talent – within film crews or acting talent. It’s a major hub for film and television, such as other major cities like Toronto, New York and LA. Vancouver should be on the tongues of all location managers.  


HNMAG “You’ve lived in each corner of the country. Vegreville – AB, Truro – Nova Scotia, and Prince George, BC. When would you say you developed the acting bug?”

ALANA “It was probably in Prince George, my sister said when I was 3, I would get her to direct plays and she would always get me to play the part of the dog. I’ve always been a little obsessed and when we moved to Prince George, there was this program Speech, Arts and Drama which was a great extracurricular activity that people of all ages still do. You can participate in monologue, competing, provincial festivals; it’s a very cool outlet that has a competitive tone. I was 9 yrs. old when I was introduced to it and became obsessed; I never looked back. My parents were incredibly supportive, even though I come from a family of scientists and doctors. Wherever there was a summer camp, they would take me to it and encourage my involvement in it. I later went to university and eventually earned my Masters. It’s not a career for the faint of heart, it’s up and down. My partner is a fight director, stunt man, actor and dancer, so to live a life together as artists is such a blessing and also a journey of instability, but I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love. Theatre is my go-to and Range Roads is only my second feature film. Film is something that came to me late and I’ll always love theatre but Range Roads really sealed the deal for me. I’m obsessed with the fact that the art and the heart of acting is the same in television, theatre and film but the craft is so different. I think it’s great at my age that I still have so much to learn about the craft of acting onscreen. I’m really digging into that and trying to rekindle that student feeling and someone’s who’s ever learning.”


HNMAG “Do you ever see yourself returning to theatre?”

ALANA “Oh yeah, 100 percent. I was even harassing our artistic director the other day to cast me in a play. Theatre will never leave me but to be quite honest, with 3 yr. old twins, it’s a tough gig. As a parent, the theatre schedule is brutal and film and TV is much more accessible and it’s working beautifully. However, film and TV are one of those things where you keep trying for and you’re really lucky when it comes your way but you can’t rely on it. You even hear about the A-listers that win an Oscar but never work again (laughing). It’s one of those things, where you have to accept the reality of it but I’m feeling very grateful for the opportunities that have happened so far and I’m excited to keep learning.”


HNMAG “When you’re nominated for a CSA, does it give you that fuel to keep going?”

ALANA “Yes, it does. I’ve been building my Imdb credits for the last couple of years because I’m still very much a small fish in that big pond. My agent was thrilled about the CSA nomination because he’s now able to get me into higher audition doors. The flip side to that is there’s other parts I can’t audition for now. A Jerry Bruckheimer film came across, a film Will Ferrell is producing, a Sony Pictures film is happening and you’re going out for number 1, thinking – they’ll never cast me. It’s a blessing and a curse but the opportunities have changed and if a casting director doesn’t know you, why would they give you a chance if there are others knocking on their door. If you have a CSA award, your agent can use it to encourage them to see you. I just want to be able to continue doing what I love and if the nomination leads to more work, it would fill my heart with joy.”  


HNMAG “Has Range Roads already come out on the Super Channel?”

ALANA “Yes, it’s out on the Super Channel, Hoopla and Amazon Prime, but that might be in the US. It’s also going to be making a little theatrical release in Alberta and across the country. Covid has really delayed so much of the stuff going on with the film.”


HNMAG “When did you shoot the film?”

ALANA “We shot it in 2019 and finished in 2020, so it’s finally coming to light now. We held it back for 1 year and we’re going to hold it another year but Kyle wanted to release it.”    


HNMAG “What would be your dream role, if you had the power to influence a writer?”

ALANA “Oh god, I usually only think about that with theatre. There is that show called The Good Doctor and I’ve been very fortunate for the casting directors to bring me out multiple times to audition for it. There are  many times when it’s playing and it’s about mothers in distress. It might sound horrible but as a mother with 3 yr. old twins, I’m fascinated by how much I’ve changed since becoming a parent. If I could have the opportunity to say, ‘hey writer… can you write this for me’,  I’d really like to break into a role that really examines defining oneself after the crashing responsibility of that child in your arms happens. I’d like to look at relationships between couples once they become parents. I’d even like to dig into mothers that deal with grief; I’m really fascinated by the shift in a humans’ personality that comes from being a parent. It’s a little vague but that’s the stuff that I love to do. Frankie in Range Roads is the exact opposite, so I’d really like to explore what that might be.”  

Alana Hawley Purvis has always known that she wanted to act, from a very young age, even if it was a dog. The seed was there and it blossomed into a garden of performances. As Alana continues to breathe life into her characters, her portrayals will continue to breathe life into the story. Please watch this much anticipated rising star in Range Roads.  

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