Variety Indigenous Storytellers Breakfast Showcases Indigenous Talent and Inspiring Conversations

Variety recently hosted its first-ever Indigenous Storytelling in Entertainment Breakfast in Los Angeles, featuring engaging discussions with Indigenous and Native creators, talent, and industry leaders. The event, which took place on June 5, highlighted the importance of authentic narratives and encouraged artists to trust their instincts in their creative endeavors.

The breakfast included appearances by prominent figures such as Sterlin Harjo, showrunner of “Reservation Dogs,” Bird Runningwater from “Fancy Dance,” Kali Reis from “True Detective,” Isabella Star LaBlanc, and showrunner Issa López, among others. The program celebrated the achievements of Indigenous storytelling in film and TV and also featured a surprise message from acclaimed director James Cameron.

During the event, participants delved into the current landscape of opportunities for Indigenous talent in the industry. This year marks the centennial anniversary of Indigenous Native Americans gaining U.S. citizenship, a milestone that underscores the importance of representation and inclusion in the entertainment sector.

The breakfast kicked off with a panel discussion that showcased the innovative work of Indigenous communities in film and television. Speakers such as Bird Runningwater, Billy Luther, Tazbah Rose Chavez, Jana Schmieding, and Aiko Little shared their experiences and insights, emphasizing the need for continued support and visibility for Native and Indigenous voices in the industry.

The conversation touched upon the significance of hiring Native and Indigenous professionals in positions of power within the entertainment field. Chavez emphasized the diversity of Indigenous perspectives and the importance of creating space for multiple narratives to thrive.

The event also featured a discussion with the makers of Nat Geo’s “Sugarcane,” shedding light on the profound impact of the film’s exploration of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. Co-directors Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie shared their personal journeys in bringing this important story to the screen, highlighting the power of storytelling in addressing historical injustices.

Additionally, a conversation between Ray Halbritter and Sierra Teller Ornelas delved into the process of adapting Sally Jenkins’s book “The Real Americans” for the screen. The discussion underscored the need for authentic representation and opportunities for Native and Indigenous creators to share their stories with global audiences.

The keynote conversation with “Reservation Dogs” showrunner Sterlin Harjo offered insights into the creative process behind the hit FX series and the importance of staying true to one’s vision in the face of industry norms. Harjo’s upcoming project, “Rez Ball,” promises to continue the tradition of showcasing unique and compelling Indigenous stories on screen.

The Variety Indigenous Storytelling Breakfast served as a platform for celebrating Indigenous talent, fostering meaningful conversations, and inspiring future generations of storytellers to embrace their heritage and creativity in their work.