The IllumiNative Producers Program will provide eight early and mid-career Indigenous producers with a year-long training program to help advance their trajectories in the industry
Los Angeles, CA (April 27, 2022) – Today, Native woman-led racial and social justice organization IllumiNative and Netflix announced the cohort of eight Indigenous producers set to participate in the first-ever IllumiNative Producers Program. Throughout this year-long program, the Fellows will develop a current project, attend monthly workshops, and have access to network-building opportunities with their cohort as well as mentors and leaders in the industry. Fellows will also receive a $25,000 grant to support their work, in addition to creative feedback and mentorship as they develop their project.
Officially kicking off today, the program was launched in December 2021 in partnership between IllumiNative and Netflix as part of Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity, an effort to help create more behind-the-camera opportunities for underrepresented communities within the TV and film industries.
“We’re thrilled to announce the eight fellows selected to participate in the first-ever IllumiNative Producers Program,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative. “For so long, Hollywood has been an accomplice to the institutionalized erasure of Native peoples. We launched this program to combat the historic lack of opportunity and investment in Native storytellers and to support the next generation of Indigenous producers. We’re looking forward to a dynamic and collaborative program and are grateful to our partners at Netflix who are helping us equip Indigenous creatives with resources and tools to advance their careers in the entertainment industry.”
“The Producers Program gives us the chance to change the trajectory of the entertainment industry, which for too long has excluded Native stories,” said Leah Salgado, Chief Impact Officer of IllumiNative. “This cohort of Indigenous producers showcases the complexity and diversity of our community, and it is our belief that investing in and supporting Native producers will increase Native representation and create new opportunities to champion Native storytellers and Native stories.”
This cohort of eight early and mid-career Indigenous producers were selected from hundreds of applicants based on experience, their commitment to being a lifelong producer, and the type of project they were working on. The Fellows and their projects include:
Ashley Browning (Pueblos of Pojoaque)
Ashley Browning (she/her) is from the Pueblos of Pojoaque and Santa Clara.
An overly optimistic young Native man struggles to accept the reality of his breakup that reluctantly plants him back to his family owned laundromat.
Taylor Hensel (Cherokee Nation)
Taylor Hensel (she/her) is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
ᎭᏢ ᎢᏁᎾ (Where Are We Going?)
A mosaic of memories from elders about their relationship to their homelands, told in the Cherokee language.
Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neets’aii Gwich’in)
Princess Daazhraii Johnson (she/her) is Neets’aii Gwich’in and lives on the traditional territory of lower Tanana Dene in Alaska.
Developing a narrative film centering Gwich’in culture and language.
Ivan MacDonald (Blackfeet)
Ivan MacDonald (he/him) is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe.
Connected to Blackfeet culture and the iniskim, the stone that helps sing the buffalo back, the characters must navigate between past and present to overcome trauma.
Coyote Park (Yurok)
Coyote Park (he/they) is a 2Spirit transgender artist from the Kingdom of Hawai’i, based in Tongva Territory “Los Angeles, California”. Their cultural roots are within the Pacific diaspora, as they are mixed Korean, German, and Yurok (Native to Northern California).
Destiny in Sedona
Destiny in Sedona is a feature film following two old lovers, a rough edged trucker and a shapeshifting drifter, on a road trip from California to Arizona, and their venture intertwining with the lives of their lovelorn queer family.
Blake Pickens (Chickasaw)
Blake Pickens (he/him) is Chickasaw, based in Los Angeles.
In present day Kentucky, a Chickasaw Catholic Priest is investigating a legend that there’s a hermit guarding an ancient holy relic in the Appalachian hills. A folk myth.
Mato Standing Soldier (Oglala Lakota)
Mato Standing Soldier (AKA Mato Wayuhi) (he/him) is an Oglala Lakota artist from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In 1962, three siblings from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota relocate to Los Angeles in search of greater opportunity than their people have ever known.
Kekama Amona (he/him) Kanaka Maoli | O’ahu, Hawaii
Scott W. Kekama Amona (he/him), born and raised on the island of Oʻahu, is an educator turned award-winning Kanaka Maoli filmmaker, whose creative approach and content centers on the Hawaiian value of makawalu (eight-eyes), a multiple-perspective mindset.
The Man and the Tree
A Hawaiian family comes together to prepare ceremonially for their elder’s transition from this world and, in the process, reaffirms their inherent connection to their land and the reciprocal cycle of life.
To learn more about the IllumiNative Producers Program, please visit: https://illuminatives.org/the-future-is-indigenous/
IllumiNative is a Native woman-led racial and social justice organization dedicated to increasing the visibility of—and challenging the narrative about—Native peoples. Our mission is to build power for Native peoples by amplifying contemporary Native voices, stories, and issues to advance justice, equity, and self-determination. We envision a future where the self-determination and sovereignty of Native peoples is respected and supported; where our children see themselves reflected in the world around them; and where Native peoples author and drive our own narrative.
Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with 222 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries, feature films and mobile games across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any Internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.