September 15, 2007

Navajo grandma becomes actress

A surprise movie star:  Shiprock grandmother makes it to silver screenEthel Begay never meant to be a star.

The 78-year-old Shiprock resident didn't even know she auditioned for a movie until Travis Hamilton, director of "Turquoise Rose," cast her as the grandmother in his film about an urban Navajo girl who returns to the reservation.
How she got the job: "They said down there they needed a grandma and they didn't know who they could get," said Ethel's daughter, Ethelene Begay. "So we came back up and got grandma ready."

Begay, who has 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, was a perfect fit, Casting Director Pyn Francisco said, and competition was fierce. After holding auditions all over the Navajo Nation, Hamilton chose Begay over 46 other grandmothers.

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