Native American female actors: 4 women who are living by example
Following my post from yesterday about male Native American actors/models, I kind of had to write this post…Things have to be equal for everyone right? When I first started looking into Native American women actors or models, I found myself looking at numerous pictures of women in bikinis or very little clothes. I was shocked, and disappointed, as most of the women I saw were not proudly showing their heritage and culture. But then one had to ask, how does one show their heritage? Well, I don’t think that one has to be in full Pow wow regalia to do so but one also has to be somewhat modest (yes not a very popular word in the acting world).
I mean it might just be me, but I think that using your heritage to justify a photoshoot of yourself wearing only a head hand with a feather and bikini bottoms, is not my definition of proudly showing your culture. But again, thinking back of the pictures included in my post about male models, this might be a double standard. However, the men I presented within that post were proudly showing their heritage, in a more respectable manner, even if they were also showing some skin.
That being said, I did find 4 amazing Native American ladies who truly do the native culture justice. They live by example by following the Red Road themselves and being engaged in their community. Let’s see who they are.
Roseanne is a East Prairie Metis woman, originally from Alberta, now living in British Columbia. She certainly is a beauty! All of her life, she has lived the native way, immersing herself in the First Nations culture as a teenager.
She grew up in a large family and was raised by a single father, within the Metis/Cree culture. To know more about the Metis nation, read this post. Roseanne has played numerous roles on the big and small screen, including the title character in Maina, an historical film about the daughter of an Innu leader, held captive. More recently, she began writing screenplays, being accepted into the Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship. She is also well known for her role in the APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) series, Blackstone, now in its fourth season. Blackstone is a series about life on a reserve (Blackstone First Nations), with its beauty and trauma, events some of the actors have gone through themselves. And this brings us to our next female actor…
After reading about Ashley, her past and present life, I have to say that I love this woman! Girl crush 🙂 Such a great role model. And a tall one (she is 6′ tall!). Ashley was born in Enoch, Alberta and is part of the Enoch Cree nation. Her past is loaded with violence, trauma, growing up on a neighboring reserve, the Hobbema First Nations reserve. She survived abuse, including sexual abuse, as well child poverty.
Ashley overcame those dire conditions and actually began modeling, including in Native pageants. She also worked on the APTN series Blackstone, portraying a positive high school student.
Ashley speaks candidly about her own past, how she survived and used her experiences to guide her work. In her own words, what is portrayed in Blackstone is real and raw, it happened to her and it happens every day to real people on a reserve somewhere. The trauma is real, it is not exaggerated. Watch the interview with Ashley below. It is definitively worth it. Beautiful inside and out for sure.
Alex Rice is a Mohawk First Nations from Kahnawake, Quebec. Alex’s family history is a unique and important one. She is a descendant of the Rice family, whose two boys got taken captive as little kids and were later taken to Kahnawake and adopted and raised by Mohawk families. Although born in Kahnawake, Alex spent most of her childhood in Brooklyn, NY, as her father was among a community of Mohawk ironworkers.
Throughout her career, Alex has remained close to and proud of her Mohawk heritage. She is
known for her role as Jane Pete in three movies (opposing the gorgeous Adam Beach, also Canadian). She is also know for her portrayal of Sacajawea in the IMAX movie “Lewis and Clark, great journey west”. She was recognized by both the American Indian Film Institute and the First American awards. She also had a supporting role in the movie The New World, alongside Colin Farrell and Christian Bale (good coworkers to have…) a historical drama depicting the story of Pocahontas (and much more). All and all, a classy and proud woman this Alex!
And this brings us to our last leading lady: Brenda Schad. Brenda is a Cherokee-Choctaw born in Texas. She was however adopted by a military family in her early years and spent her childhood traveling all over the USA. She was approached at age 15 in Japan to become a model. She attended university in Japan, while never forgetting her native heritage. Indeed, she founded the Native American Children’s fund of Oklahoma.
The non profit organization helps provide school supplies and clothes to Native American children. The project also helps high school seniors living in limited income families with expenses related to graduation.
Brenda also took part in one of the largest group of Native Americans petitioning in Washington against further budget cuts to the reservations. An overall active member of the native cause as well as a model. Once again, a strong native woman proud of her heritage (which she did not leave behind after being adopted).
So what do you all think of those 4 fantastic women? Much more than models or actors aren’t they? I just love seeing women (and men) embodying the culture, living on the Red Road and using their past to grow stronger.
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