Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Casting Call for 1st Nations actors/actresses

It used to bother me--even when I was a small blonde child in a cowboy outfit--that the parts of Indians in the movies I saw weren't acted by native people. Jay Silverheels was an anomaly, kind of a big deal during my childhood. My dad told me, "He's really one." Still, it didn't escape me that he had to play a character whose name, in Spanish, means "Stupid." That's just not right, neither then or now. 

For this blog, I decided to post lots of pictures of 1st Nations actors, because I think these faces should be better known. Most of these performers I found on a list of "Hot 1st Nations Actors" --and so they are. There is one exception-- the magically expressive face of Tantoo Cardinal is widely recognized. I added her to my selection not only because I love her work, but because she'd made the perfect Elder/Shamen if my story ever received a movie adaptation. 

Tantoo Cardinal
   (Grandmother Drybones)

                                                       Eugene Brave Rock


The powerful face of Duane Howard from The Revenant.
Either of these might play Sascho's Uncle John, his teacher


Predictably, things haven't changed all that much for these actors over the last fifty years. 1st Nations People recently walked off the set of a Netflix movie during production. They'd had it with this particular film and with the over-the-top stereotypical stereotyping (yes, I meant that) even if the movie in question was intended to be an "equal opportunity offender." It was a line in the sand time for these actors, leaving me wondering when we're all going to grow up sufficiently to stop thinking making fun of ethnicity or race is acceptable.

Forest Goodluck
(Hawk/The Revenant) 

I know very little about 1st Nations actors and actresses, mostly because there aren't a lot of jobs for them in their chosen field. As I don't live in a city where indie or small budget movies can be often seen, it's difficult to view their performances. I have no doubt that the 1st Nations is a deep pool of talent. After all, people all over the world have stories they've been telling to one another for thousands of years, so art is no stranger to anyone. I'd enjoy seeing 1st Nations performers at work more often, and I'd like to see them playing meaty, genuine roles. (The modeling industry appears to be one place where their style and looks find a welcome.) 

Tanaya Beatty, Shannon Baker, Amber Midthunder, Roseanne Supernault and Eric Senseimer are below--left to right.

I mean, wow. Amazing faces representing many 1st Nations!

Most of these actors and actresses could not be cast as leads of Fly Away Snowgoose, because the characters are young teens: Yaotl Snowgoose and her sweetheart, Sascho Lynx. Perhaps:

                                                       Tristen Marty-Pahtaykan

                                                             Sascho Lynx

  Or, what about a younger version of Devery Jacobs (above) or Melow Nakehk'o (below)                      as Yaotl Snowgoose? Anything's possible, while we're imagining.

The two vulnerable preteens who end up attempting the journey home, Kele and Tanis Stonypoint, are even younger.

Sladen Peltier
(Kele's initial self-assurance)

Those parts should be filled by brand new, just-discovered young 1st Nations actors. How exciting it would be to see such a casting call, and to observe all the talented, charismatic kids who would audition.

~~Juliet Waldron
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  1. It's wonderful to see this showcase of first nation talent. I've always thought parts should be played by the correct ethnic group.

  2. Thanks, Diane--so much charisma here.

  3. You found a bunch of beautiful NA actors (I've been a fan of Tantoo Cardinal for ages). With a casting call, you'd probably be inundated. As you said, as a major part of their culture, they are story tellers. Who knows how many bright and beautiful young unknowns would clamor to be a part of this story.