Cote First Nation member brings Indigenous content to Disney
- Brendan Mayer | January 09, 2021
A member of the Cote First Nation is using his recently launched production company to bring success stories of Indigenous youth to the Disney Channel.
Jacob Pratt started Skoden Entertainment in September and has produced episodes for a series called Use Your Voice that features Indigenous youth who are making a difference in their communities.
“We hope that Indigenous youth get to see young people like themselves on Disney and are inspired by what they’re doing,” Pratt said. “I also hope that seeing them on Disney helps them realize that's possible for them as well.”
Skoden Entertainment finished producing three pieces for the series in November. One episode features a group called the International Indigenous Youth Council and shows how they are promoting social justice. The second piece focuses on Noli Ortega, an Indignous youth who helps perpetuate the California Bird singing style and its significance to Indigenous people. The final episode is about Akisa Peters, who uses social media to help preserve his Dakota language.
“We really loved being able to share the stories of some great Indigenous youth and seeing them being in the spotlight,” Pratt said. “That is the absolute best part of the whole project.I want young people to see the content we create and have characters they can identify with.”
All three episodes have aired on the Disney Channel.
“Disney wanted to hire an Indigenous company to produce these episodes for them,” Pratt said. “I really enjoyed working with Disney because it was very different working with a company of that size. They liked working with us. They want to work with us more in the future, which we are obviously happy to do. Everybody that we worked with was kind and supportive.”
Pratt hopes Skoden Entertainment will help change how Indigenous people are portrayed on television and in films.
“Proper representation is having characters that just happen to be Indigenous, just like we actually exist in today's society,” Pratt added. “This is the future we hope to help influence. Why should we only exist in Indigenous stories?”
Pratt said that more Indigenous people should start working in the film industry.
“I would absolutely love to see a new generation of camera operators, directors, producers, actors and grips that make a difference within the industry,” Pratt said. “I can’t wait for the day that we see Indigenous people in films and on television just as much as I see them walking down the street.”
Pratt was raised on the George Gordon First Nation and said his upbringing influences his work.
“Growing up in Saskatchewan was great in some ways because I loved being able to spend my time out in the fields as a kid.
“I also encountered many different examples of racism that is very prominent within the province. I was met with systematic barriers that limited my ability. My major influences and basis of who I am as a First Nations man was provided through growing up entrenched in my Indigenous culture. It gave me my strength and strong sense of identity.”