Photo Courtesy Jaimie Trueblood/HBO
Silicon Valley (left to right): Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Kumail Nanjiani. Production Design by Richard Toyon. Photo Courtesy Jaimie Trueblood/HBO

HBO's 'Silicon Valley' Has a Native on Set: Emmy Nominee Richard Toyon

Angela Aleiss
4/4/14

When HBO's new series Silicon Valley premieres Sunday April 6, look for Richard Toyon's name in the credits. 

Toyon, a fourteenth-generation Native Californian, is a descendent of the Parra clan of the Juañeno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemem Nation (pronounced A-HA-Sha-mem). His family originates from what is now the city of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Much of his Indian blood comes from his mother; his father is of Spanish descent. "As I often will say, I was both the oppressed and the oppressor," he adds.

Toyon is also a production designer in Hollywood with a long list of his own impressive credits. He's worked with award-winning directors Alexander Payne for the HBO TV series Hung (2009) and Joel and Ethan Coen for their quirky 1994 movie The Hudsucker Proxy.

You've seen Toyon's scenic designs in TV's United States of Tara, Knight Rider, and Las Vegas as well as that 2001 adolescent romp American Pie 2.

Add to that an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for HBO's mini-series From the Earth to the Moon (1998), which starred Tom Hanks.

Toyon was production designer for all three PBS American Mystery! Specials adaptations of Tony Hillerman's novels: Skinwalkers (2002), Coyote Waits (2003), and A Thief of Time (2004).

Richard Toyon scouting in Alaska, 2013.  Photo Courtesy   Richard Toyon.

"A lot in this business is your relationships—who you're related to in terms of your friends and people in the business," he says by phone from Texas, where he's working as a production designer for ABC's forthcoming pilot American Crime. The TV movie revolves around the personal lives of people involved in a racially charged trial.

No surprise that with such a busy schedule, Toyon misses his wife and three children back home in Los Angeles. "The industry is not really conducive to family life," he says. His job often requires him to be on location for weeks or even months.

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