TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Film Office recently partnered with Green Pastures Studio and SeriesFest to present the Season 8 Storytellers Initiative, specifically aimed at increasing Native representation within the television industry.
The annual competition offers writers the opportunity to submit a pilot script, participate in a writing workshop with industry experts and a live read with professional actors, as well as secure a yearlong development deal with the winning script. In an ongoing effort to address the need for more Natives on and off screen, this year’s winning submission must include a Native American screenwriter or actor.
“Since the beginning of television, film and traditional media, Native Americans have been grossly underrepresented and currently comprise less than 1% of these industries,” said Jennifer Loren, director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “The Cherokee Nation and our incredible partners, such as those who joined us at SeriesFest, are doing our part to create more opportunities for proper representation and accurate portrayals of Natives in television and film.”
Jennifer Loren, director of Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content speaks with media during SeriesFest Season 8.
Kaniehtiio Horn, actor; Jennifer Loren, director of Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content; and Sierra Teller Ornelas, “Rutherford Falls” showrunner discussed modern Native American representation during a panel at SeriesFest Season 8. (SeriesFest Photo/Evan Semon)
Jennifer Loren, director of Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content; Sierra Teller Ornelas, “Rutherford Falls” showrunner and Kaniehtiio Horn, actor speak with audience members during “Changing the Narrative: Focus on Indigenous Representation in Television” at SeriesFest on Saturday, May 7, in Denver, Colorado.
The tribe’s film office also presented “Changing the Narrative: Focus on Indigenous Representation in Television” at SeriesFest on Saturday, May 7, in Denver, Colorado. The panel included Loren, actor Kaniehtiio Horn and “Rutherford Falls” showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas discussing the welcome change of modern Native American characters, with other creators, writers, executive producers, actors and casting directors in attendance.
“We created the Storytellers Initiative in 2015 to help support emerging writers break through,” added Randi Kleiner, co-founder and CEO, SeriesFest. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Green Pastures to support and elevate Indigenous representation on screen and behind the camera.”
The Storytellers Initiative, SeriesFest’s signature writing competition, launched in 2015. The initiative aims to discover and celebrate bold new series with a strong point of view and daring characters from the next generation of storytellers.
The Cherokee Nation Film Office launched in 2019 and became the first certified Native American film commission to open in the United States. CNFO also created and maintains unique, all-inclusive talent, crew and consulting online directories featuring Native American actors, extras, voice actors, crew, cultural experts and other industry resources.
Earlier this year, the Cherokee Nation Film Office accomplished yet another groundbreaking feat by offering the first-ever tribal film incentive program. For more information about the Cherokee Nation Film Office, please visit cherokee.film.