Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Entertainment

Joe Frank – Native Actor

Joe Frank. Courtesy photo
Joe Frank. Courtesy photo

I have known Joe Frank for a few years now. He is Athabascan from Holy Cross, and now lives in Anchorage. I would see Joe and his daughter at events. I was mistaken for one of their relatives, and was their cousin for a bit. We laughed about that. Joe is a single father and works in Anchorage. He is the president of a village corporation, and has worked as a purchaser for many years. Joe is a former pilot holding a commercial, instrument and float ratings.

Although, you may not know Joe’s name, you might recognize his face in some commercials and educational videos in the Alaska Native medical facilities. Joe dreamed about acting for a long time, but kept telling himself that he couldn’t do it. He said, “One day, I thought, now is the time to do things I always wanted to do.” Joe’s role models include actor Clint Eastwood and comedians David Letterman and Johnny Carson.

Joe played Isaac, a lead role, in the “What’s the Big Deal” film focusing on colorectal cancer. He also played a couple small parts in the Everybody Loves Whales movie. You might also recognize his voice-over in “To the Arctic” film.

Joe Frank played a lead role in the "What's the Big Deal?" film. Courtesy photo
Joe Frank played a lead role in the “What’s the Big Deal?” film. Courtesy photo

Joe enjoys acting in short films focusing on disease prevention and education. He feels like he is making a difference in the lives of others by playing those roles. Joe plans to continue to pursue acting, but is also interested in music, motivational speaking and learning to play the keyboard. Joe would like to do motivational speaking with those who are struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

Joe grew up on Holy Cross, where they didn’t have televisions or telephones. They didn’t have running water and used wood burning stoves. They got their water by dog sled. Joe worked hard in the village on multiple chores, including chopping wood, feeding dogs and getting water.

Joe recently acted in a film, called Safe in the Village. The film was produced by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and it will be aired throughout rural Alaska. Safe in the Village is a current research project by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in effort to create effective and culturally sensitive sexual health and healthy relationships curricula. You can hear Joe’s voice-over in the trailer below.

I admire Joe for reaching for his dreams of becoming an actor. He serves as a role model for others, especially Alaska Native men. Best wishes Joe!