April 09, 2007

Studios can't find Native actors?

Is Hollywood Clueless, Lazy, Political...or All Three? The Myth of the “Vanishing Indian”I was contacted to “help find Native Americans” for the last time a few weeks ago. This was for a MAJOR film production, they couldn’t “find” Native American actors and by the time they found out about me, they were desperate and out of money for the casting part of the budget.

This happens so much it is sickening. Desperate casting agencies trying to save their reputations and casting credits and production companies calling and emailing to ask how I find “them.” If it’s the production company calling, they sometimes have a tone in their voice doubting that I can because they’ve paid as many as four or five casting directors before me who claimed to “specialize in finding Native Talent” who came up with nothing, and who can blame them after all that? I can and so can all of you!


Rob said...

I don't know Tara Ryan's opinion of Sonny Skyhawk and American Indians in Film and Television or vice versa. Why don't you post a comment at the end of her column and ask her?

I posted a comment suggesting that NativeVue.org list casting directors and consultants who are sincerely interested in placing Native actors in roles. I can't say whether that includes Skyhawk and his organization.

While you're asking her about that, you can ask her about Native actors trying to influence producers and directors to curtail stereotypes. If I were a Native actor, I wouldn't be so eager to work in Hollywood that I'd sell out my fellow Natives. But then, I'm not a Native actor.

Rob said...

As with you and your career, I'm a writer, not an actor. Unlike you, though, I've never claimed to be an actor.

I haven't taken a position on the upcoming Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. If I had, you would have heard of it.

There's nothing inherently stereotypical about telling the true story of that terrible time in history. Unless, of course, you want to talk about the meta-message of keeping Indians in the past--of dealing with them as vanishing relics rather than modern-day people. But since you don't think movies have messages, you're not equipped for that discussion.

The idea that new stereotypes necessarily arise to replace old stereotypes is ridiculous on the face of it. We used to think the Irish fought and drank and Jews were calculating and greedy. Since these stereotypes have diminished, what Irish and Jewish stereotypes have formed to take their place? Good luck with your answer.

Rob said...

I doubt anyone thinks of the Irish as "politicians or advisors or financial contributors." Unless you mean the kind of back-room, cigar-smoking politicians that filled Tammany Hall a century or two ago.

My Irish girlfriend confirms that these old stereotypes persist and your new stereotypes haven't replaced them. I doubt you can prove otherwise with anything resembling documentation.

As for Jews owning businesses and controlling the media, that's a corollary of the "Jews are greedy" stereotype. Jews are greedy because they control businesses and vice versa--or so it's said. So that's the same old stereotype, not a new stereotype.

In short, I told you you'd need luck with your answer. I was right. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

As for your final comment, many people are surprised I'm not Native because I reflect Native beliefs and values so well. Compared to that praise, your "actor" aspersions are worthless.

Rob said...

Here, I've done the research for you, since I know it's hard for you. Below are three sites that mention Irish stereotypes. They include all the old, familiar stereotypes and none of the new ones you invented.




Again, "politician" isn't a new stereotype. It's an old stereotype I didn't mention.

Anonymous said...

TJR here guys, anyone who follows my company and career knows now what is public knowledge. I am in no way fool enough to think that any of us, even together can pressure anyone from doing anything they don't want to do. If you want to know my honest opinion and sincere only answer to this problem, it is very simple. The only answer to any business question is always competition. From our own brilliant independent filmmakers and, frankly from Native American Television. Our own voice. It's just that simple. Want more information, www.TijerLilyCo.com. Clearly this late comment, lets you know how busy all of us who are working this hard on changing the infrastructure are. I only found out this blog I posted on NativeVue found its way here from a tracker sent my way. Yes, Rob did answer the question, to have a chance for me to answer a question, is to ask!

Happy hyper blogging...

Rob said...

Hi, TJR aka Tara J. Ryan. Thanks for writing.

There's a prominent Newspaper Rock icon on each of NativeVue's blogs. Now that you know we're here, check us out.