November 15, 2008

Elijah DeJesus as Pearl

Here's Elijah DeJesus playing an unpopular Latina girl in Ugly Betty. (I saw this episode and it was good.)

Here are some photos of DeJesus as Pearl Carter Scott and the real Pearl.

According to this posting, Pearl's mother was half Chickasaw and half Choctaw. Her father was non-Native.

Since Pearl was only part Indian by blood, I guess it's okay for a Latina to play her. But it's a shame that only two Chickasaw citizens were cast among the 22 biggest speaking roles. (Another six Chickasaw citizens got minor roles--essentially extras.) And it would be a shame if her relatives or neighbors were mostly black and the movie changed them to white.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.


Anonymous said...

"She's an Indian Outlaw, Half West African and Choctaw!"

There has been a LOT of inter-marriage between members of the Choctaw tribe (of both Mississippi and Oklahoma) and blacks since the days of slavery in the American South.

During my many travels, I have met blacks who were part Choctaw, were federally enrolled, owned land and received sizable yearly lease payments.

Yes! I have a problem with...,

This Latina, who should have asked permission from the tribal elders involved or at the periphery of this particular production - in much the same way that Edward James Olmos approached the Grand Governing Council of the American Indian Movement for his role as an Indian in the 1981 movie, "Wolfen."

dmarks said...

Wow. I did not know that the battlestar fleet admiral was AIM-approved, too.

Anonymous said...

I believe that any Latino/Latina actor should be thoroughly vetted by whatever (major) Indian actors group that is currently active in Hollyweird. If they are not truly sincere in their desire to accurately portray an Indian person (especially an historical figure that is significant to our communities), then they should be strongly discouraged from engaging in the role.

Reason: There is very little Indian representation on the big screen as it is - and - there are millions more Hispanics in the U.S. than there are Indians.

In the 1978 tv mini-series, "Centennial," the Mexican actor Jorge Rivero played a notable Cheyenne war chief - and he was absolutely ridiculous with his very thick accent.

There was even some serious talk in Los Angeles's Indian community at the time of somehow publicly targeting the serie's producers for fraud on this one count.

dmarks said...

I'd hope that the objections don't go as far as frivolous lawsuits, however.

Rob said...

As I noted in Pearl the Chickasaw aviatrix, the Chickasaw Nation is producing the film. I presume the tribe's leaders were involved in the casting decisions.

Which is not to say they consulted their elders about who was cast. With money at stake, it's likely they persuaded everyone to go along with Hollywood's choices.

P.S. Robert Beltran as Chakotay in Star Trek: Voyager is another example of a Latino's playing an Indian. He didn't ask anyone's permission since the writers invented Chakotay's tribe.

Unknown said...

Hello all, I'm King Hollis the director of the film Pearl. Some of the comments made here are not based in fact at all. If anyone would like to know how this film was actually put together feel free to contact me at Thanks for your interest.

Unknown said...

And by the way, in the picture of Pearl, and her parents in front of the Curtis Robin, Pearl is the one in the middle. Lucy and Mr. Carter are at her side.

Anonymous said...

I am the movie's producer and I am Chickasaw. Pearl IS the person in the middle of that particular photo, woman on left is her mom. This movie was produced by the Chickasaw Nation, there was no "Hollywood" money or involvement. It is based on actual interviews we did with Pearl while she was alive, and interviews with her brother and children. By the way, her son and daughter were on set during filming and very much approved of Elijah in that role. Those of us who knew Pearl feel that Elijah portrayed her wonderfully. EVERY effort was made to include Chickasaw and native actors where ever possible. We auditioned over 600 people all over the US and Canada and chose the best for each role. Even though Elijah closely resembles Pearl at that age, the primary reasons for her choice were her spirit and talent. I stand by that choice. I hope you will make an effort to see the film before you pass judgement on a very talented and hard working actress.

Anonymous said...

i respect the decision on choosing elijah to be in the film pearl. but i dont respect her. i went to her school and she has a bad attitude many of her classmates agreed