Red Nation Media Channel programming re-debuts
LOS ANGELES - When the Red Nation Media Channel made its debut in May 2006, the response was so overwhelming it crashed the system, said Joanelle Romero, Apache/Cheyenne and founder and creative director of the burgeoning online network.
Romero thought the system would be up and running in a matter of weeks, but it took longer; and to make a long story short, it's now up and running and features episode one of the first Native drama series produced in the United States, and a selection of documentaries, music videos, news and public service announcements aimed at sending positive messages to Indian youth.
In 1994, Romero produced and starred in ''Home, Home on the Rez,'' a series about a Native attorney (Romero) who leaves her big-time city job to return to her reservation to help children and teens in crisis. Romero said there were 13 scripts written and only one episode made - the one featured on the network.
The series also features actors Larry Sellers, Elaine Miles, Elizabeth Sage and Conroy Chino.
At the time, Romero said television executives told her that America wasn't ready for a Native drama series, let alone a Native cable network. Come back in 10 years, was the general consensus.
''The studios told me that I was way ahead of my time; it was behind the times, as far as our people are concerned.''
Romero said even after 12 years, all the actors that starred in the drama series, as if frozen in time, are ready to return to shooting new episodes.
''That 30-minute pilot opened the door, and to this day that door is still open.''
Additionally, taking the network to cable is on her agenda and she's serious about making it a reality. She openly asks for sponsorship to not only keep the web channel afloat, but to turn the cable dream into a reality.
''It's so important for us to be supportive of our efforts in Indian country. I can't really say enough on how important it is.''
Meanwhile, Romero said she planned to change some of the programming in January, and add more program choices by spring.
As for news programming, the network offers segments of the televised ''Northwest Indian News'' program. Romero said she's calling for more news around Indian country and encourages Native reporters and college students to submit videos - even five-minute pieces.
''We need our Native journalists. This is the only venue you can get visual Native news.''
As an accomplished actress and singer, she has the experience in the entertainment industry to be a mover and shaker in both Hollywood and Indian country.
At 19, she starred in her first leading role in the made-for-television movie ''A Girl Called Hatter Fox'' (syndicated under the title ''Lost Legacy - A Girl Called Hatter Fox''), the first Native woman cast in a leading role. She later went onto to star in ''Pow Wow Highway'' and numerous other roles in both television and film.
In 2001, she launched Red Nation Records and her last release under her label, ''The Best of Joanelle Romero,'' aka RedHawk, was released in 2005.
Romero is the founder of Red Nation Celebration, a nonprofit organization that supports Native causes on a variety of levels and is the home of the Red Nation Media Channel.
The Web site features information on Red Nation Celebration and Romero's projects.
She's the founder of the Annual Red Nation Celebration Concert Series, Spirit World Productions, the Annual Native Women in Music Concert, the Annual Warriors Against AIDS Awareness Concert, and the Annual Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles during that city's American Indian Heritage Month.
The network is accepting submissions and need sponsors to help keep the current programs up and running and to carry the network to cable TV. Contact Red Nation Media Channel at (818) 904-9256 or www.rednation.com.