By Eva Thomas
This joint event featured a panel discussion exploring contemporary American Indian life, opportunities and challenges for American Indian creative professionals in the entertainment industry, as well as current and future media representations.
Panelists included Nancy Miller, creator/showrunner, “Saving Grace”; Gregory Cruz, “Saving Grace’s” Bobby Stillwater, who portrays one of the few American Indian characters featured on a primetime TV show; Jason Gavin (Blackfeet), currently a staff writer on “Royal Pains” and formerly on the critically acclaimed series, “Friday Night Lights,” and a member of the WGAW AIWC; Angela Riley (Potawatomi), visiting professor of law at UCLA School of Law and newly appointed acting associate director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.
The evening was moderated by WGAW AIWC member Brian Wescott (Athabascan), co-writer (with Leslie Clark) of the documentary miniseries “American Century.” The audience included industry folks and Native writers, actors, producers and directors. “American Indian 101” was an attempt to encourage better representation of American Indians in film and television.
“The first thing we would like you to know is that American Indians are extremely diverse,” Wescott said. “There are over 500 American Indian tribes. Tonight, we invite you to open the door and see what kind of Native stories you can tell and what kind of Native talent you can use in your projects.”
Hollywood's audience refuses to let go off it's "injun" image. They find it better to "know" us more than we know ourselves. The archetype is $$$$ to their eyes, any change is blasphemy. Or, in their words: "not profitable." Panel Discussion? Hollywood's reps RESPONSES are BLARINGLY ABSENT!
Rob Schmidt wrote ...
Yes, it would be interesting to see a panel of studio execs explain why they don't use Native characters and actors.
Anyway, I'm not sure anyone said anything we haven't heard before. It's kind of like Charlie Brown's trying to kick the football Lucy's holding. Indians do everything right but get screwed by the system.
I did like this note:
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies and Diversity Lacking in Television.
Below: Friday the funny-looking "Caribbean Indian" (Tongayi Chirisa on NBC's Crusoe).