#followfriday - 4 Indigenous Actors to Follow
By Erin Blondeau
Refreshing and inspirational––two words that I seem to be repeating lately when I talk about Indigenous joy and accomplishments. Some of the most forward facing and public accomplishments include the increasing representation of Indigenous Peoples in film and TV. For this week’s #followfriday, we have featured four inspirational Indigenous actors that continue to show the world that we are so much more than stereotypes. Their talent can be seen across a variety of platforms, in every genre. Get your bookmarks ready for the Indigenous TV that continues to gain mainstream recognition.
Devery, an Indigenous woman who grew up on Kahnawà:ke Mohawk territory just outside of Montreal, always imagined herself staying in her home community just outside the city. She told W Magazine that her reserve was almost like a suburb with ample economic opportunity, so not many people felt the need to leave. In fact, Devery–besides one other relative–is the only one in her family to move away from the reserve.
She says the only reason she moved away is because she knew that she wanted to act. After earning a leading role in Rhymes for Young Ghouls, a film that she describes as the first time she’d seen “characters that resembled [her] family,” she figured that she would be able to find other roles with Indigenous stories and representation. Unfortunately, she quickly learned that Hollywood still lacks Indigenous perspectives and opportunity… until her latest role in Reservation Dogs–the hit Indigenous-acted and Indigenous-written show on Hulu that has just been picked up for a second season.
Devery has earned several awards (American Indian Movie Award and Best Actor in Borsos Film at the Whistler Film Festival) and a nomination at the Canadian Screen Award for her skillful acting. She has 39 credits in films and TV, and continues to be the face of comfort and representation for Indigenous youth across Turtle Island. Devery is also a queer woman, bringing a new layer of diversity to the world of Hollywood.
Julia is a Native American actor with roots from Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and African-American descent. She is an accomplished actor, having worked on hit films like Twilight and TV series like ER, though her experience as a performer began at the age of four when she attended the Boston Ballet School.
She has also been outspoken about the challenges that Indigenous Peoples are met with in the world of TV and film. Recently she has also been on notable shows like The Mandalorian and according to her Instagram, she will be on the reboot of Dexter!
Roseanne was born in Grande Prairie in so-called Alberta. She says growing up in poverty in a rural area has helped shape who she is––an Indigenous woman who is scrappy and tenacious, having overcome many challenges that life has thrown her way. She was bullied in school, and experienced a culture shock going from an Indigenous elementary school to a big-city performing arts school in Edmonton.
Though she faced adversities, she had a profound love of performing arts from a young age. She has worked on many films and TV series as an actor, as a producer, and as a writer. She is also an advocate for safety, explaining to APTN that she has experienced toxicity and lateral violence from other Indigenous men and women in the industry.
As you have probably noticed, we typically feature women-identifying people on our podcast and blogs, but we’ve been considering broadening our features to be more inclusive. Matriarchy isn’t only about being a woman or matriarch, it’s about respecting, learning, and upholding the wisdom that matriarchs bring forth––but we’ll be talking more about that in a future blog post.
For now, we want to kick off our modified format by introducing Joel Oulette to you, if you don’t already know him. He is well known for his acting in TV series like Trickster and films like Monkey Beach. Joel, a Red River Métis and Cree from Medicine Hat, said he was shocked when he got an offer for Trickster after sending his audition tape––though, the director said it was a “no-brainer” to offer the part to him. He has been acting since the age of five, having grown up in performing arts, so it’s no wonder that he continues to grow into a shining star with each and every role he takes on.
Did we forget to mention he is also the little brother of Matriarch Movement podcast host, Shayla Oulette Stonechild?