L’xeis Diane Benson on acting and her work in ‘True Detective: Night Country’

L’xeis Diane Benson
L’xeis Diane Benson at a “True Detective: Night Country” watch party in Petersburg (Courtesy Orin Pierson)

The significance of Alaskan actor L’xeis Diane Benson’s character in the HBO series “True Detective” was revealed in the season finale earlier this month. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, we won’t be spoiling the ending here.  

Benson lives in Petersburg now, but she’s lived all over the state. And she’s done all sorts of things. She was a professor of Alaska native studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an activist politician and Democratic candidate for statewide office, a union tractor-trailer truck driver, and a dog musher. She’s a creative writer and a mother.

And Benson’s been an actor for nearly half a century. She started acting in her 20s, mostly in theater. She says her favorite projects are those that are fun, but have hard truths. They often represent the strength of women in tough situations. She says one of those is “When My Spirit Raised Its Hand,” a one woman show that she wrote, produced and performed. It eventually became a part of the PBS film about Elizabeth Peratrovich, “For the Rights of All.”

RELATED: Petersburg actor L’xeis Diane Benson is in HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country’

Last year she was cast as the character Bee in the crime drama’s fourth season, subtitled “Night Country.” The story is set in northwestern Alaska, just days into what will be three months of night. It centers around eight scientists, missing from a research center, and the seemingly connected cold case of a murdered Indigenous activist. The show explores the tension between residents of the fictional town of Ennis, and the nearby mine that is both sustaining the town economically and poisoning its water supply.

Benson sat down with KFSK’s Hannah Flor to talk about being in the crime series and her acting career. She says that she prefers the stage over acting for TV and film, because she enjoys the energy exchange with a live audience.

Editor’s note: A much longer version of KFSK’s interview can be heard below. The conversation contains spoilers, starting at the 15-minute mark.

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