Michelle Thrush (born February 6, 1967) is a Canadian actress and First Nations activist for Aboriginal Canadians and the other Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She is best known for her leading role as Gail Stoney in Blackstone, for which she won the Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role in 2011, and her recurring roles as Sylvie LeBret in North of 60 and Deanna Martin in Arctic Air.
Thrush, who is Cree, was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, by parents she admits were chronic alcoholics. She recalls being called "Squaw" at Bowness High School and bullied because of her parents' illness. In grade nine she changed schools and attended Calgary's Plains Indian Cultural Survival School. There she felt accepted for the first time. She learned about herself, her language, culture, singing and drumming. She remembers: "They filled in a lot of the voids that my soul was just begging for."
Her childhood hardships affected her profoundly. Though she acted in her first film at 17, it did not occur to her it could be a career. She planned to become a social worker and help children. She met Gordon Tootoosis, a First Nations actor, who told her: "[I]f [acting] is what your heart wants, you need to follow it and be true." At this point her parents were sober. With no other ties to Calgary, at age 20 she moved to Vancouver and found an agent.
Thrush has had a prolific career since its beginning in the 1980s. She began her acting career in film while attending high school. She got her first theatre job when she moved to Vancouver at age 20. She had a small part in the play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. She portrayed numerous recurring and guest roles in the television series Madison, Northern Exposure, North of 60, Highlander, Forever Knight, Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy, Moccasin Flats and Mixed Blessings.
She has starred in many notable films throughout her career, particularly in films that deal with issues about Indigenous peoples of the Americas, ranging from Canadian Aboriginals to Native Americans/American Indians (U.S.). These include Isaac Littlefeathers, Unnatural & Accidental, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Skins, Dead Man, Dreamkeeper and Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.
|1991||The Dark Wind||Shirley Topaha|
|1993||Madison||Charlene||Recurring Role: 4 episodes|
|1993-1997||North of 60||Sylvie LeBret||Recurring role: 10 episodes|
|1994||Northern Exposure||Pilot||Episode: "Shofar, So Good"|
|1994||Highlander||Sara Lightfoot/Little Deer||Recurring: 2 episodes, two separate roles|
|1995||Children of the Dust||Rainbow woman||TV miniseries|
|1995||Forever Knight||Marian Blackwing||Episode: "Blackwing"|
|1997||Unwed Father||Holly||Made-for-TV movie|
|1997||Viper||Grey Hawk||Episode: "Wilderness Run"|
|1998||Ebenezer||Ghost of Christmas Past||Made-for-TV movie|
|1998||The Crow: Stairway to Heaven||Jane Cogo||Episode: "Before I Wake"|
|1999||Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy||Esther's Sister||Episode: "Sex Lies and Narrow Escapes"|
|2000||North of 60:Trial by Fire||Sylvia LeBret||Made-for-TV movie|
|2003||Dreamkeeper||Morning House||Made-for-TV movie|
|2003-2005||Moccasin Flats||Laura||Recurring role: 14 episodes|
|2007||Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee||Four Robes||HBO Made-for-TV movie|
|2008-2010||Mixed Blessings||Kate||Recurring role: 15 episodes|
|2011-2015||Blackstone||Gail Stonee||Main cast|
|2012||Christmas Rescue||Rhonda||Made-for-TV movie|
|2012-2014||Arctic Air||Deanna Martin||Recurring role: 8 episodes|
|2014||Fargo||Sue Roundtree||1 episode|
|2017-2019||Tin Star||Jaclyn Letendre||Recurring role|
|2019||Molly of Denali||Shyatsoo/Aunt Merna|
|1984||Isaac Littlefeathers||Sally Littlefeathers||First media role|
|1991||The Legend of Kootenai Brown||Olivia D'Lonais|
|1995||Dead Man||Nobody's Girlfriend||First major film role|
|2006||Unnatural & Accidental||Pink Girl|
|2013||Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian||Gayle Picard|
|2019||Red Snow||Big Fran|
|2018||Inner Elder||Herself||One-woman play|
|2011||Gemini Award||Best Actress in a Drama series||Blackstone||Won|
|2013||Leo Awards||Best Guest Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series||Arctic Air||Won|
|2014||Canadian Screen Award||Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role||Blackstone||Nominated|