Even with Waititi’s influence, Harjo was surprised at how quickly he sold out. He said in the past he had projects killed because white executives didn’t believe he could find enough native talent to make it happen. Harjo knew better.
“Our communities are filled with amazing talented people,” he said. “But we are the descendants of people who survived genocide, forced displacement and displacement, so we don’t leave home as easily as others. We don’t just go to LA and say, “I’m going to be an actor.” So we have to find these people.
FX made Harjo, who had made independent films and created comedy videos with the 1491s, the showrunner. “I didn’t even know what a showrunner was,” he said with a laugh. Fortunately, he had someone he could call: Sierra Teller Ornelas, who oversees “Rutherford Falls”. This series, which she created with Michael Schur (“The Good Place”, “Parks and Recreation”) and Ed Helms (“The Office”), made her television the very first Native American showrunner.
“I would call Sierra and ask her, ‘When do I have a meeting?’ “, did he declare.
“Rutherford Falls” has an overall sunny and mellow tone, worthy of a show co-created by Schur – its writers ‘room is 50% Indigenous and centers on a deep, albeit complicated, friendship between Helms’ character and a Native American woman played by Jana Schmieding.
“Reservation Dogs” has more advantages. With his all-native writers’ room “writing from the inside out looking out”, Harjo felt confident enough, for example, not to stop and explain all the cultural nuances and jokes inside. to white audiences.
“We’re not going to hold your hand through,” he said.
In the first few sessions, Harjo said, he went back to the writers’ room twice and said to everyone, “Alright, we’re going to blow everything up and do it again. It was vital, he said. , may they find the right balance of humor and naturalism to truly illuminate the truth of Native American life in America.