Indigenous Representation in the Television and Film Industry: A Promising Shift
- Bee Bird | November 23, 2023
Historically, Indigenous peoples have been underrepresented in the film and television industry and this lack of representation has perpetuated stereotypes and marginalized their voices and narratives - but things are changing.
Cheyenna Sapp, an Indigenous actress from Little Pine First Nation, is helping to create that change.
Her contributions offer hope for a promising future for other emerging Indigenous creatives.
While pursuing her BA in Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, Sapp was also involved in stand-up comedy and wanted to improve her stage presence.
She decided to join the wîcêhtowin Theater, where she discovered her passion for theater performance.
Last year, she was cast in “Acting Good,” an APTN Original and CTV Comedy series set in the fictional fly-in community of Grouse Lake First Nation in Northern Manitoba.
Sapp just finished the taping of the second season of the series, which is directed by Darlene Naponse, Micheal Greyeyes, and Eric Toth.
According to Sapp, the industry is witnessing an increasing number of opportunities for Indigenous creatives behind the scenes.
“We’re seeing a surge in the industry with incredibly talented Indigenous screenwriters, directors, and producers,” she said. “That’s going to really help in creating more of an authentic representation of who we are in the media and showing people that we are still here, we are still alive, and we are still creating.”
Sapp says the “Acting Good” series offers a unique approach to broadcast television.
“A lot of the stories I’ve seen on film and television usually have an element of trauma involved in it but not with this show,” she said. “It’s funny, it’s silly, but most importantly, it’s Indigenous led.”
We are natural comedians, said Sapp.
“Our people are just naturals at standup comedy, and I want to see more of our people in this sector because we are so funny and humor is vital to (our) survival,” she said.
Sapp hopes to raise awareness about the great qualities of Indigenous Peoples.
“We are resilient, we are funny, and we deserve to be valued and respected,” she said.
Apart from comedy, Sapp plans to venture into filmmaking to create meaningful content about her family.
“I want to try my hand at filmmaking and create documentaries,” she said.
As she receives more acting auditions, she also hopes to create an Indigenous sketch comedy T.V. show in the future.
The need for Indigenous actors will continue to rise as more and more Indigenous people enter the industry.
Sapp encourages other up-and-coming actresses and creative people to enter the film industry.
“Just keep going, and never give up,” she said. “Your stories are necessary. Your stories are so important and they need to be heard.”
The producers have just wrapped up the second season of “Acting Good” and Sapp is looking forward to seeing how it will progress in the future.
“I can’t wait to see what the writers do with the story line, where the characters go, and to see it all unfold.”
Season two of “‘Acting Good’ airs on CTV Comedy Channel on Mondays at 10:30 PM CT
Check your local listings for exact times.