In an effort to dismantle the film industry’s historically stereotypical portrayal of Native actors in buckskin, feathers and painted faces, Los Angeles-based media professional and photographer Pamela J. Peters (Navajo) has created a series of photographs entitled Real NDNZ Re-Take Hollywood, in which contemporary Native American actors recreate classic Hollywood portraits of movie stars such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn.
Peters, who originally hails from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, has worked for years to address the stereotypes of Native Americans in Hollywood.
“The idea of the relic stereotypical Indian needs to change and this project is an intervention of the negative representation of Indians that has been the norm in mass media. Even today, films such as The Ridiculous Six and The Revenant only showcase Indians as relics of the past, with storylines with Indians as obstacles to progress,” says Peters in a release.
The seven Natives involved in the project include actors from the Dakota, Cherokee, Crow, Blackfeet, Shoshone, and Seminole nations. They are Noah Watts (Crow /Blackfeet), Shayna Jackson (Dakota / Cree), Deja Jones (Shoshone), Kholan Studie (Cherokee), Krista Hazelwood (Seminole), JaNae Collins (Dakota) and Brian Vallie (Crow).
“All participants have a passion to work in the film industry, but they also have ties to their tribal communities and enjoy sharing their respective backgrounds with each other,” says Peters.
“I would like people to think critically about my photos, and hear the young performers’ stories about how they navigate an extremely competitive field of entertainment. Furthermore, I want society to know that we are many nations, with many stories, and that we can make a conscious choice to reshape perceptions of modern Indians today.”
The showcase will take place at These Days LA at 118 Winston Street, Los Angeles, 90013 from Aug 4th to 7th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Information about the show can be found online. Her exhibit will showcase 24 images and a short video of her project. On Saturday, Aug 6th live art and drumming will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.