January 30, 2011

Native actors in Skins calendar

Showing Some Skins:  Shaunya Manus, Producer of the 2011 21st Century Skins CalendarINDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA NETWORK: Your calendar’s cover model is Kiowa Gordon, who is one of four Native American actors in the “Wolfpack” of the phenomenally successful films Twilight: New Moon and Twilight: Eclipse. Consensus on the Wolfpack is divided; some feel the actors are a leap forward for Natives on screen, while others find them to be a modern gloss on an old stereotype. What’s your feeling?

SHAUNYA MANUS: It’s a double-edged sword. We want to be culturally sensitive, but we also want Native Americans to succeed. I work with struggling actors, and I support their struggles. So I’m happy to see actors succeed as the Wolfpack guys have. Native actors need to be seen, even if it means considering some roles that are not culturally sensitive. I don’t think these Twilight films are doing us any harm. And honestly—when you’re coming from a Native American perspective, you have to expect that Hollywood is never going to get our story 100% right unless they have Native American casting agents, screen writers and producers.

ICTMN: How do you feel about an actor like Kiowa achieving Hollywood stardom?

MANUS: I love it. I’ve been doing this calendar since 2005, and I have always known there would be a fan base for Native men. Going back to films like Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves—there was support for the Native actors in those films. Women liked them. There just wasn’t the organized support we have with these Twilight actors. One person can’t do it alone—we’ve got Adam Beach, and he’s great, but he doesn’t have the star power of Johnny Depp.
Comment:  Twilight would've been more impressive if some of the Native roles hadn't gone to non-Natives such as Taylor Lautner.

Johnny Depp has more star power than Adam Beach, but what's he using his star power for? To portray Caribbean Indians as cannibals in the Pirates movies? To take a major role from a Native actor in The Lone Ranger?

What exactly are Indians supposed to be grateful for? I doubt Disney is making The Lone Ranger solely because Depp is in it. The concept will sell the movie with or without Depp.

For more on Native calendars, see From Calendar Model to Warrior and 2009 Native Men's Calendar.

Below:  "Martin Sensmeier (left) and Rick Mora, from the 21st Century Skins calendar."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's just the way Hollywood is. Though it is kinda funny, since at least the original Lone Ranger serials actually hired a real Indian.

Beach was quite popular as Lake. Part of it was the popularity of the Sixth Column trope in general. (See Neon Genesis Evangelion.) But a lot of it was his acting.