Paulina Alexis says ‘Reservation Dogs’ represents indigenous people in an honest way | Navajo-Hopi Observatory

Dennis Ward, Special to Indian Country Today

As a child, Paulina Alexis had no role models to follow on television or the big screen.

That didn’t stop Alexis and her siblings from making their own movies with their father’s camera.

“Acting is something I always saw myself doing as a kid, but I never said it out loud because I didn’t have any role models at the time,” Alexis said on the latest episode of Face to Do what.

“Sure, there’s been Adam Beach, Gary Farmer and Eddie Spears, all the legends, but with ‘Reservation Dogs,’ it’s like we’re finally representing ourselves in an honest way and telling our own stories, instead of just following the script like others think we are,” said Alexis, who plays Willie Jack on the hit FX series, which was recently renewed for a third season.

Acting in Lord of the Rings and Power Rangers skits with her siblings and cousins ​​at a young age has paid off for the 22-year-old.

Alexis, who is part of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta, had a role in the Hollywood hit “Ghostbusters Afterlife” and Tracey Deer’s award-winning film “Beans,” a coming-of-age story about a young Mohawk girl in during the Canadian Raid on Kanesatake Mohawk territory in the 1990s, also called the Oka Crisis.

Landing the role of Willie Jack in “Reservation Dogs” was a dream come true.

“I’m pretty much Willie Jack,” said Alexis, who believes about 70 percent of her lines are improvised. “He felt like he was meant to be with Willie Jack.”

Alexis said she originally tried out for the role of Elora, the character played by Mohawk actress Devery Jacobs.

Alexis said she knew as soon as she auditioned for the show that “Reservation Dogs” was going to blow up. However, the reaction was a bit unexpected. Back home, she says people don’t care that she’s on the show, but in the States, she’ll be recognized on a trip to Walmart.

For the past two Halloweens, kids and adults alike have dressed up as the main characters Willie Jack and the “Reservation Dogs.”

“It feels really good that now the kids have someone to look up to,” said Alexis, who added that it makes her heart feel good to see the kids dressed up as characters and that now they can look on the screen and see for themselves.

“It’s all about young people because they are the future, they are the ones who will write these stories and make more movies when they grow up,” she said. “We’re just scratching the surface now. I don’t know how to explain it, but for me, that plays a big role for young people because I never had role models growing up and now they do. I think that’s something I’m most proud of.

“We are almost the only ones who are invisible, as if we are not even there. If you were to watch a regular movie, tell me if you see an extra native in the back, tell me if you see that.”

Alexis said she hopes to direct movies one day.

The success of the show and everything that comes with it has been a bit overwhelming for Alexis at times. Apart from family and friends, hockey and Indian relay races help keep her grounded.

“I probably watched the relay two or three years ago for the first time and fell in love with it, I was like I’m doing this, I don’t care I’m doing it,” she said. “Finally I got enough money to buy a horse, and I continued to train, every day, every day that I fall. I can’t even count how many times I fell off my horse.”

In addition to the third season of “Reservation Dogs,” Alexis also has a role in the upcoming miniseries “Bones of Crows” and a voice role in an untitled stop-motion animated project.

This article was originally published in Canada’s APTN News by Dennis Ward

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