Windspeaker: What one quality do you most value in a friend?
Wesley French: Honesty.
W: What is it that really makes you mad?
W: When are you at your happiest?
W.F.: When I’m with my family.
W: What one word best describes you when you are at your worst?
W: What one person do you most admire and why?
W.F.: Hunter S Thompson. He tried to tell the truth. His words sent me on a path of discovery. He defined our culture but affected it as well. For good or ill he became more than a man, but a force.
W: What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
W.F.: Leaving the reserve, my home.
W: What is your greatest accomplishment?
W.F.: My Family.
W: What one goal remains out of reach?
W: If you couldn’t do what you’re doing today, what would you be doing?
W.F.: Unearthing the secrets of mankind.
W: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
W.F.: The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
W: Did you take it?
W.F.: I’m trying.
W: How do you hope to be remembered?
W.F.: As someone who tried to make it a better place.
Wesley French was born and raised on the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation near London, Ont. He and his extended family lived on the reserve, but early in his life he was sent to school off reserve. He was an avid fan and player of minor league hockey as a youth but an injury had him reassess his ambition to play professionally. By the time he reached high school he found himself somewhat lost in the sea of faces he recognized from the reserve, but didn’t grow up with it in the school system, leaving him lost between two cultures. French said he was a loner and self-conscious of himself in high school. He did not have a direct affiliation to one group or another and found himself unsure of his direction. His academic standing suffered quite a bit until his later years in high school where he ran for Vice-President of the Student Council and won, as well as bringing up his marks to a respectable level to pursue post secondary education. His school population was 2,500 students, so winning the office of VP was no small achievement on his part.
In his senior year he became involved with the drama department and performed as Donald in the school production of You Can’t Take it With You. This is where French found his niche. As his high school years came to a close he decided to apply to Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre School. Once again, against the odds, he was accepted. He was competing with over 800 applicants for only 34 available spots in the program. He graduated in 2001 after performing in plays such as The Grapes of Wrath and Emile Zola’s Nana. French is presently enjoying playing the part of Justin Tommy on APTN’s Cashing In, a half-hour comedy/drama set on the fictional Stonewalker First Nation in southern Manitoba. French plays the wealthy and spoiled son of casino owner, Matthew Tommy. Cashing In has been on the air since 2009 and is shot on a tight schedule of six to seven weeks in Winnipeg, leaving French time to pursue other acting opportunities. French lives in Toronto with his wife and young daughter when not on location.