September 2007 by Buffalohair
There is no question I know and chat with many entertainers as a part of my work and pleasure. But I want to tell you a story about some of the artists I know. At some point someone mentioned that there were no Natives in the mainstream entertainment world, they were non-existent. I must beg to differ since I know many people in the biz. Fact is, there are Natives in all aspects of the entertainment world.
Today, I was talking to a world-class pianist musician. This person played with some of the finest symphonies, singers and groups in global arena and has international notoriety as a classical musician. With many CD’s out on the shelves world wide with people whispering this persons name, you’d think revealing their true identity would be a no brainer since Native’s are IN it seems.
But I’ve learned there is an inherent fear of letting the world know they are Natives. And not just this piano player but from other folks as well and they cover the gambit as far as the mainstream entertainment world is concerned. There are Rock and Roll groups, singers, dancers, gaffs, techs, camera people and other industry related grunts. All of these people I’ve spoken to were fearful of their careers and did not want to be typecast or relegated only to Native events or Native movies. In other words, they did not want to take a chance in loosing the momentum they have generated in their careers. In a few cases, these people were already big names but the fear of exposure was still overwhelming for them. I could feel the fear in their words as they made mention of this.
Graham Greene broke free from the bondage so many of our Native artists have been stymied with over the years. It’s as if there is a stigma for a Native artist to do ballet or classical music yet some do break out of this stereotypical mold we’ve been typecast in. I know a ballet dancer who performed with the Bolshoi Ballet and was a contender for the “River Dance” but this person’s true identity was never reveled to this day. Why? For fear of retribution from other “fellow” entertainers or producers who’ve gotten these preconceived notions about Native people. Since some people work in Europe there is yet more stereotypical nonsense about being Native. I’ve had people ask me, Mr. Armani, if I lived in a tipi and if I dressed Indian! Holay!!
I’m not going to wear my regalia to a business meeting in West Hollywood or New York City and I refuse to become a walking tourist trap for anybody. What do I have to do, carry around bead work for re-sale? I don’t think so. Point being, I know what some of our brothers and sisters are talking about and I can’t really blame them. Guess it’s a form of prejudice within the industry that pigeon holes our people when they try to find work. “Sorry we are not doing westerns this year.” Gads, I’ve heard that one before.
When I was a stuntman, guess who was the Injun shot off the horse, moi. I bitched and bitched till I finally got to do the all time fave in live western stage acts, “The OK Corral Shootout”. Geeze, even as a stuntman I was typecast as if anyone could see who was falling out a window or car. I used to do live stage acting back in the day. It was a hoot but there was this typecast thing that severely restricted my career goals. Eventually, I reverted back to the grayer areas of employment I wanted to get away from in the first place. At least I was no longer a starving artist and I was back on the streets doin’ my thing making the green stamps.
We are a multi talented group of people who deserve to be in the mainstream out and about doing Shakespeare or playing Peter and the Wolf at the Greek Theater not just beating the tom tom while the great White brother saves the world. Therefore I am going to post all the kewl casting calls I find in the FORUMS section of VUE when I find them. And it behooves all you starving artists out there to give it a run for their money. Audition, Audition, Audition. Other cultures do it, why don’t we???????????
So go break a leg, kick some ass and win an Oscar!
Stepping off my soapbox now.
Your Devil’s Advocate,