October 29, 2006

Roscoe Pond responds

A comment from Roscoe Pond on the numbers in his article:A lot of people are discussing my article that appeared on Indian Country Today newspaper. That's great. But....People are arguing about the Percentage of Natives working in Hollywood and whether I'm accurate or not. Well....According to the Screen Actors Guild this year 2006. Natives represented on TV and in FILMS was less than 1%...50 people! And most of that work was GUEST STARRING ROLES. I've counted only 9 on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX and the CW. There are no reoccurring roles, no supporting roles or GOD forbid, lead roles for Natives in Hollywood!

Last year's SAG report was less than 2% because we had more than 500 Natives working on "Into the West" or "Apocalypto" and most were Background Extras! The Census doesn't matter with 4.0 million Indians in this country. What matters is Natives in Mainstream Hollywood!!! We are invisible!!!! And where are the Native actresses? We only had two LEAD FEMALE ROLES last year on "Into the West" and that was only a mini-series and not on a major Network.

Even if it's 2%. It still means we NATIVES are NO-WHERE on Mainstream TV and in FILMS! That doesn't count Independent films which are never seen by the mass public....

I suggest you call SAG and get the percentages. It won't be pretty. WE are Nowhere and if we are it is only in Westerns or Period Pieces! 100 years of filmmaking and WE are not modern Indians in 2006 on TV or Films!
For news on the annual diversity reports issued by minority coalitions, see Diversity Lacking in Television.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
It's the oldest of the Catch-22s in the entertainment industry. You can't get a (sale) (role) without a track record, and you can't get a track record without a (sale)(role). After becoming the first of 300 'apprentices' to sell from the WGAw Open Door in 1969, writerfella waged well and far just being a writer, with only half his scripts having any Native material and all but two being his own brand of science fiction.
For a few years in the 1980s, writerfella (Kiowa) was a Native actor in the Miami, Florida arm of the film industry purely and accidentally by being in that area at all. In seven roles, he played Native in six, the most prominent of which was in PORKY'S 2, and the one that was Native only because writerfella got the part was in BLUE SKIES AGAIN. writerfella got every role for which he auditioned because he worked hard in their pursuit and was fortunate to have an agent who worked just as hard or harder. In fact, his first role in a US/Sp./It. jungle picture came because no Native who read the script wanted the part. But it opened yet another door and writerfella went inside. The statistics were no better then, so what has changed? Is it the case that roles still are being turned down because the worker doesn't want THAT kind of work? Do agents balk at sending Native clients up for non-Native parts? Is it a case of the workman cursing his own tools?
APOCALYPTO may fly or it may tank, but Rudy Youngblood (Comanche-Cree) does have that gods-forbidden lead role. Adam Beach (Salteaux) is getting Oscar-buzz for his role as Ira Hayes in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Perhaps both events in the same year are coincidental, or perhaps not.
As Adam Beach has said, there is no one else Native where he is at this space and time that he can ask for advice, or even 'what do I do now?' In the 70s when writerfella won his writing Emmy and in the 80s when he for a time always got call-backs, there also almost was no one Native around to ask for advice or for what to do next. That apparently has not changed, either.
All Best
Russ Bates

Anonymous said...

Don't 'we' Native Americans only make up 2% of the population anyway?