January 18, 2010

DeLanna Studi in August: Osage County

Studi moral center of 'August: Osage County'

By James D. Watts Jr.Studi plays Johnna Monevata, a young Cheyenne woman who, in the opening scene of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tulsa native Tracy Letts, is hired by the patriarch of the Weston clan to serve as a caretaker.

Johnna is ostensibly there to cook and clean for Beverly Weston, who has discovered that the mundane activities of keeping house have "gotten in the way of my drinking," and his pill-popping wife, Violet.

But when Beverly goes missing and the Westons' three daughters and their families and companions descend on the three-story house outside Pawhuska, the role Johnna plays takes on a new dimension as the family's secrets and lies erupt like Mount Vesuvius.

"She becomes the moral center of the entire home," Studi said, speaking by phone from Tempe, Ariz., where the national touring production of "August: Osage County" stopped earlier this month. "She is there to do a job, she does it well, and she does it without expecting anything for herself.
How Studi got the job:Studi, a native of Muldrow and niece of actor Wes Studi, has worked in theater (she's created and performs two one-woman shows: "What's an Indian Woman to Do?" and "Kicks") and in films such as "Pow Wow Dreams" and "Dreamkeeper," where she became friends with actress Kimberly Guerrero, who originated the role of Johnna Monevata.

"Kimberly's also from Oklahoma, and she thought it was very important to find a native Oklahoma woman for this role," Studi said. "So she submitted my name for consideration. And out of courtesy to her, they called my agent and I did an audition."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Pix of August: Osage County Premiere and Indian Actress in Broadway Hit.

Below:  "Beverly Weston (Jon DeVries) waxes a bit poetic as he talks about the caretaking job he's offering to Johnna Monevata (DeLanna Studi) in this scene from August: Osage County." (Robert J. Saferstein)

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