When I was sixteen I started acting, and I also started to embrace my tradition and culture. I had a young medicine man interpret for me what it is to be an Indian. He really caught me at a good time because I was really vulnerable after the loss of my parents with all of the feelings of abandonment. .
With 'Smoke Signals,' the character was so much like me growing up. I lost my parents, and I wish I'd had an opportunity to find out where they were. So I was reflecting on how I grew up, that feeling of abandonment. That whole film was a reality that I always held back and kept to myself. .
Acting has made me embrace my childhood. It's become some weird form of therapy. It's like I have a place where I can release all of these emotions. When I was playing Ira Hayes, I didn't have to think about the death of my parents directly. It's just there. I can blend it into Ira's character. I can use Ira's emotions as an outlet. .
Some people look for a certain structure in their lives that they're comfortable with. People who work hard on the road as truckers, people who work hard using their hands. Then there are people who are fortunate enough to have my life, people who play these characters who embody these qualities. .
Once you lose your parents, you get this numbness, this feeling of having to really be able to connect yourself with someone. I depended on my brothers for that connection, but to have that feeling of being taken care of... I lost it when my parents passed away. .
I don't have an answer for why Hollywood still casts non-ethnic people for ethnic roles. It's something that has to change. Sometimes they'll write a character for a Native person and then say, 'Well, there's no Native actors that can capture the intensity of this character, so let's just make it a white person.' I've seen it time and time again. .
I was in high school. A couple of my friends and I decided we had to be in a class together where we could fool around, and drama was it because we'd do improvs, beating each other up. They left a year later, and I stayed in and got a knack for it, and enjoyed the whole process. .
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