Kaniehtiio Horn started taking acting lessons when she was just 16 years old. For most of her childhood in Kahnawàke Mohawk Territory, just outside of Montreal, she knew she wanted to be an actor, but, in hindsight, she says, she probably started her formal education a bit too early. She was dealing with her own personal issues, as well as a bit of culture shock, and whenever her mother came to pick her up after class during her first year, Horn would say “I don’t know if I belong here.” But her mom had foresight: She suggested that maybe the aspiring actor should finish the semester before deciding to leave. That way, if she ever wanted to return, it would be easier. Around the same time, Horn and her father went to Ottawa to watch a one-woman show at the National Arts Centre, which kicked Horn’s competitive side into high gear. During the intermission, she turned to her dad and said: “I could do this better than her. I’m not going to quit.” So she didn’t. For over a decade now, Horn has been racking up credits, including fan-favourite character Tanis on Canadian comedy Letterkenny, the enigmatic Deer Lady on critically acclaimed series Reservation Dogs and, most recently, scene-stealing antagonist Feather Day on Rutherford Falls, one of the first American shows (along with Reservation Dogs) with a largely Indigenous cast and writers room. Sadly cancelled this past September, it was co-created by actor Ed Helms (The Office), writer/producer Michael Schur (The Good Place) and Navajo showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas. Oh, and her latest thriller, Alice, Darling (starring Anna Kendrick), just premiered at TIFF—nbd.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by kaniehtiio (@kaniehtiio)

Perfect timing

I always wanted to do comedy—it’s why I started acting. It’s fun and challenging. I wanted to be a part of Rutherford Falls because it was groundbreaking and exciting. They did the first season while I was pregnant, so I didn’t get to audition. But I feel almost grateful that that happened, because I got to join the second season and be Feather Day. That character felt like the perfect fit for me, and I wanted to show that I could bring something different and unique to what was already an amazing cast and crew.”

Growing pains

“When I first started playing Tanis on Letterkenny, I was in a very angry place—dealing with a lot of my own things— and I brought that to the character. I’m not saying this was a bad thing, but it’s something I can only see now in hindsight. [Playing Tanis] was a way to get out of that dark place safely. One of my first jobs after lockdown was a new season of Letterkenny, and I remember doing a scene and realizing I didn’t have any of that anger anymore. It’s been a lot of fun growing with Tanis. I just love her. She’s the badass rez bitch I have inside of me—but never unleash—dialed up to 11, and she comes very easily to me now.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by kaniehtiio (@kaniehtiio)


“When I saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective for the first time, I was in Grade 5, and I remember thinking it was hilarious. I didn’t get half the jokes, but it was more about Jim Carrey. That was [when I first] realized ‘Oh, this is a profession I can do.’ From that moment on, I wanted to [act]. I love making people laugh, and because I’m the youngest of six sisters, the way I got people to pay attention to me was by being silly or funny or doing Ace Ventura impressions. I’ve always felt really fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do at such a young age. Every choice I’ve made was because I had the goal of becoming an actor.”

All in the family

 “I come from a very driven family. When my sister [Waneek Horn-Miller] was a little kid, she told my mom that she wanted to go to the Olympics, and she did. One of my other sisters decided at a very young age that she wanted to be a doctor, and now she is one. We had super-supportive parents. My mom was always like, ‘Even if you want to be a dishwasher, you’re going to be the best dishwasher you can possibly be. No matter what you decide to do, just be the best you can be at it.’”

Up for anything

“I want to be known for is being an incredible actor. That’s the bottom line. I want people to think I’m really, really good. I want to be able to tell any story—as long as there’s meat to it or I’m making people laugh.”