November 21, 2009

Tinsel Korey = Harsha Patel?

Another person claims Tinsel Korey isn't Native--this time with photo evidence to back up the claim:

Welcome to Harsha PatelTwilight is one of the biggest films right now, most of the stars from this movie were beginning actors and now they are A-list stars. Among the most famous in the World. Robert Pattison and Kirsten Stewart are household names.

New Moon, the second film of the 4 book series is coming out on November 20th. One of those stars is none other than Tinsel Korey, a Canadian actress who has been in such films as Steven Spielburg's Into the West, Tin Man and The Lookout. She has been slowly climbing the ladder of fame, and now she is is portraying Emily Young in New Moon.

Tinsel Korey. Proud Native Canadian.

Harsha Patel. Embarrassed East Indian.

What do these two have to do with each other?

They are the same person.

She was born Harsha Patel to a wealthy doctor and his wife in Ontario, but an estrangement from her family, a move across the country after graduating from William Lyon Mackenzie CI she gave herself a new name, and background (claims she is Ojibway), all fueled by ambition. The movie industry is not easy to break into, there are more doors closed than opened, but Harsha saw what she felt was a loophole. She decided to do what many other people have done to aboriginals in Canada and North America, and that was to exploit them for her own chance at fame. Rather than using her own Indian heritage and drawing on Hinduism for support, she instead rewrote her background to Native America, believing that she could garner more roles.
Why this matters, again:Her part is small, but it’s a role that was stolen from a true blooded aboriginal woman….A commenter in another posting makes the same claim about Korey's being Patel:Anonymous said...

great stuff! what tribes is Tinsel tied to? From what I've read she's done a lot of work in the Native side of the industry.

Anonymous said...

She started implying Cherokee in about 2005, then Ojibwe, Mohawk, and now claims Anishinaabe. She also claimed she was adopted at 2, then as an infant, and implies that her step family are Jewish-Russian--claiming that her real parents were hippies in explanation of the name she gave herself as a teenager. She was in fact born and raised Harsha Patel to East Indian parents on 25 March 1980 so there aren't too many groups of people left for her to trivialize, appropriate from or insult.
Comment:  As a reminder, I don't know the truth of this claim. That's why there's a question mark in the title.

The picture apparently is from Patel's high-school yearbook. It's labeled "Grade Twelve/O - A - C" at the top.

Unfortunately, the picture only resembles Korey. I wouldn't say it's a conclusive match.

Also, let's note that Ojibwe is a variation of Anishinaabe. Switching from one word to another is the same or a similar claim, not a brand new claim.

Therefore, I'd say the question is still up in the air. We're still waiting for definitive proof one way or another.

But Korey's refusal to address the issue remains suspicious. Most Natives are proud to discuss their particular Native ancestors. E.g., "My mother's grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee who was born and raised in Tahlequah." The people who refer to mysterious Indian ancestors (often Cherokee princesses) and can't or won't say more usually end up being frauds or wannabes. (That means you, Ward Churchill.)

Incidentally, we've had enough debate on Tinsel Korey in this blog. Supporters will say, "How dare you attack this proud Native actress? She doesn't have to prove herself to you. Stop being so jealous/negative/racist." Critics will say, "Thank you for posting this. How dare she pretend to be Native? She's making a mockery of all the hard-working Natives who have struggled to overcome obstacles."

In other words, we've heard it all before. If you have anything new to say on the subject--especially corroborating evidence--e-mail it to me. I'll decide whether to post it.

For more on the subject, see Tinsel Korey Answers Critics and The Truth About Tinsel Korey.