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Doyon Foundation Student Profile: Bernice Dahl

Bernice “Avu” Dahl and her 13-year-old son
Malkolm worked together on the film “Doc West.”

Doyon Foundation student Bernice Dahl said working in the film industry has always been a dream of hers, but it seemed out of reach – until now. Dahl, also known by her screen name “Avu,” has performed in both theatre productions, as well as films. After earning a speaking part in Steven Spielbergʼs “Into the West,” Dahl became eligible to join the Screen Actorʼs Guild. She has since worked in several films as an extra, and plans to continue pursuing work in the film industry.

Dahl, who is originally from Beaver, Alaska and was raised in Fairbanks, is currently living in Albuquerque, NM, where she is attending the University of New Mexico (UNM) and pursuing a bachelor of fine arts in theatre, with an emphasis on acting. She previously attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, but transferred to UNM to pursue her bachelor’s degree.

“The biggest challenge for me has been the enormous population of the school itself. The student body is about 25,000, which I found extremely intimidating,” Dahl said. “When the feelings of intimidation would start to surface, I would think of the kids at home who might have an interest in working in film, and feel that I need to do this to show them that it can happen.”

Dahl was originally expecting to graduate in May 2009. However, for medical reasons, she had to withdraw from the spring semester. She plans to return to school for the fall semester and graduate in December 2009.

As a single mother, Dahl said funding support has been very necessary for her during her education.

“Without the funding from the Doyon Foundation and others, I would not have been able to attend school. School itself is very expensive and when you add living expenses, it seems unreachable. The more funding available, the less stress and more time for school work. I appreciate both the businesses and individuals that help to fund the Doyon Foundation,” said Dahl, who has three children, including one in Fairbanks, one in Seattle, Wash., and one in New Mexico.

“My 13-year-old son Malkolm lives here with me. He is attending the Native American Community Academy. He also works in film. We have worked in the same film twice, which we both really enjoy,” said Dahl, who is the daughter of the late Bertha and Dale Dahl, and the granddaughter of Turok and Blanche Newman, and William and Ethel Dahl.