June 06, 2011

Wannabes audition for Native roles

A blast from the past--an article published March 16, 1991:

Wanna-Bes:  Auditions for Indian Roles Bring Out Least Likely of the Mohicans

By Bob PoolThere were more than a few actors acting like Indians among the 100 performers who turned out for the auditions. People like brown-haired, blue-eyed Lance Patak.

"I'm Indian," insisted Patak, 18, of Hollywood.

"I'm 7%. What was that tribe--let me think. It starts with Ch. Say something with Ch," he said, shrugging.

Was he Cheyenne? Chumash? Chippewa?

Patak thought it over a moment before finally answering. "It's Czechoslovakian," he said. "I'm 7% Czechoslovakian."

Patak wasn't the only one at the Hollywood audition for whom American Indian culture may have been a foreign commodity.

"These people are just taking away jobs from a lot of Indian people," said Delbert Pomani, 30, of Oceanside, a full-blooded Sioux who worked in the film "Powwow Highway."

"I lived on a reservation all my life. I know what being an Indian is all about," he said.

Other aspirants said they were willing to try to learn.

"I'm an Indian in disguise," said Mike Haney, 35, of Glendale, who has had roles as drug agents and a Marine in past films. "Maybe I can be a cowboy."
Comment:  I'm not sure much has changed since then. For every producer who seeks authentic Native actors, another is willing to hire a Johnny Depp, Taylor Lautner, or Brandon Routh.

For more on casting decisions, see Routh Is a Native?! and Tavare on Hollywood Indians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wait...Czechoslovakia begins with ch? That just took it from fail to Milhouse-level epic fail.