July 01, 2010

Indian TV and film center flops

Roscoe Pond reports on the following subject:

Failure to Launch the American Indian National Center for Television and FilmIt was an extensive search in 2007 for the director of the American Indian National Center for Television and Film. The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) headed that search and hired Jhane Myers. The two main offices were located in Santa Fe at IAIA and in Los Angeles at the ABC studio lot. 2008 arrived and there was no announcement about this center except a news report on the ABC affiliate KOAT 7 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. No one heard about this until Jhane visited Los Angeles.

The National Center is not a new idea. Diversity had already reached out to Native Americans. In 2004, rumors were swirling that Dawn Jackson who is the Vice Chairman of the First Americans in the Arts Awards (FAITA). She wanted to create a resource center to involve the Indian Tribal Casinos with diversity and the TV networks. Rumors or not, the idea came to fruition with elder actor Apasanequat (AP) as the director of this new center. He was to serve as a liaison from the Tribes to the networks and back again. His office would be on the ABC lot in Los Angeles.
Comment:  I heard about this effort back in 2007 and 2008. Now I've found out what happened to it.

AP was charged with sexual harassment and left. Jhane Myers helped arrange one or two events and one payment from a gaming tribe. And...that's it as far as anyone can tell.

Back then I suggested writing an article on the center to Myers. I think she responded once and then stopped responding. Not the smartest approach when someone's trying to help publicize your work.

A center could help, but....

The idea of a dedicated resource center for Hollywood Indians is a good one. A center like this should be doing fundraisers, studio meetings, casting calls, workshops, industry mixers, press releases, websites, etc. If it isn't announcing one or two initiatives per week, it isn't doing the job. One or two initiative per year isn't close to what Indians need to break through the buckskin ceiling.

As you may know, I help with the NativeCelebs Facebook page and website. These are the best resources I know of for keeping up with Hollywood Indian news and casting calls. Creating websites like these should've been a small part of the center's work. Yet the center didn't do anything like them.

Obviously, a job like requires a high-octane person who can do a dozen things at once. That includes returning phone calls and e-mails promptly. If Myers or whoever can't do this much, find someone who can. Don't expect the idea of a dedicated resource center to work until you do.

For more on the subject, see Video on Hollywood Indian Center and Winners of the 2008 FAITA Awards.

Below:  Apasanequat.

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