June 01, 2015

Randy Mantooth, Native actor

When I was watching the Murder Digs Deep episode of Murder, She Wrote, I thought the actor playing Two Crows looked familiar, but I couldn't place him. He looked borderline Native, a bit like Wes Studi, so I wondered who he was.

Turns out it was Randy Mantooth of Emergency! fame. Coincidentally, Indian Country Today just ran an Q&A with him:

Randy Mantooth of 'Emergency!' Looks Back and Forges Ahead

By Vincent SchillingMantooth, who is of German, Seminole and Cherokee descent and has continued to do well in the acting world, is also a proud public speaker who addresses firefighters and paramedics all over the country every year.

In a conversation with ICTMN, Mantooth discusses his successful career, his love of speaking and how he's addressed the challenges unique to being a Native actor.
And:You have also said in your career that you had an aversion to selecting Native American roles, can you explain that?

When I say they had no imagination in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I am not kidding. My biggest fear is that if they viewed you as an "ethnic" actor you were dead. I resisted it at first, but I certainly didn't resist being who I was. I didn't want to be known as an "Indian actor" or sadly, I wouldn't get any work.

As I got older and I established myself as an actor, I became less and less afraid of that sentiment and I became more vocal about such things as Italians playing Natives in the industry, which has always annoyed me.

My dad, my grandmother, and my grandfather are Indian; my mother is German. My grandfather's Cherokee and my grandmother’s Seminole and Potawatomie. People ask me how I'm so many tribes. How do you do that? Well, you go to Oklahoma.

I have since become very vocal about non-Indians playing Indian roles which, as I said, has always bothered me. They say to me well, there are no Indian actors. I have responded with, "Go to Canada, because they have a lot of resources."

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