Red Deer’s Cornerstone Youth Theater actor is branching out into feature films

Lacey Oake went from starring in Cornerstone Youth Theater musicals to acting in feature films.

The 13-year-old Red Deer resident appears in two Alberta-made films that will be shown in the coming weeks.

Before I change my mind is from director Trevor Anderson, a Red Deer native who now lives in Edmonton. Lacey plays one of the lead roles. Her character, Izzy, is friends with a non-binary person who has identity issues growing up in the 1980s.

“As the other students debate whether little Robin is a boy or a girl, Robin (makes) increasingly dangerous choices to fit in,” the official plot summary reads.

“It’s a coming-of-age story,” added Oake, who recently graduated 8th grade at Westpark Middle School.

This film was shot in central Alberta last summer, including exterior scenes in Red Deer. Oake thinks viewers will definitely notice the “green onion” water tower in some shots, and might also recognize some neighborhoods where bike scenes were filmed.

Before I change my mind will make its international debut at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland on August 10. It was voted “one of the 10 best films to see”, with Anderson nominated for a Golden Leopard Award.

The film was also selected for the “Alberta Spotlight” section of the Calgary International Film Festival, which runs from September 22 to October 2.

Oake entered her first professional film role as Aela in the horror film Jikirag, directed by Vancouver-based Constellate Films. This film will be distributed in American theaters this fall by Vertical Entertainment, and she thinks it will also be shown in Canada.

“Doing my first horror movie was a little scary, I’m not going to lie,” Oake said, recalling all the gory makeup. “But now that I know how it’s done, I’m not going to be scared when I watch it,” added the teenager, who will be starting Grade 9 at Hunting Hills High School this fall.

This feature film is about pagan villagers who must fight “madness and macabre” to save themselves from a monstrous creature. It was shot just outside of Rocky Mountain House. Oake believes it has an underlying ecological message: “If you take too much from the forest, the forest will take it back.” It’s about how there are consequences to actions.

The trailer is viewable on YouTube.

Oake said she found her love of theater at Cornerstone Youth Theater. Since joining at the age of nine, she has performed in 10 shows, most recently appearing as the lead role of Red in Grimm – A Mixed Musical Adventure.

Several years ago, family friend Christy Marchuk, who was studying film arts at Red Deer Polytechnic, asked Oake to appear in several of her student shorts. Through these experiences, Oake discovered that she really enjoyed downplaying her emotions for the camera.

“Honestly, it wasn’t too difficult. It was something natural…”

Since then, she has signed with two talent agencies, in Alberta and Vancouver, which introduce her to various filmmaking opportunities.

“It’s so amazing that a girl from Red Deer is doing so well in the acting world, I’m so proud of her,” her mother Tracey Oake said.

Lacey said she would like to pursue an acting career one day, but if that doesn’t work out, she plans to become a real estate agent/home decorator like those on HGTV.

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