Shady Character: Zahn McClarnon Discusses his 'Red Road' Role
The Native community in this series is racially mixed -- you're depicting Indians who may not look like the "Indians" the audience is used to seeing.
The Rampanough Lenape are not a federally recognized tribe and they are quite a mix of different heritages. There is a lot of African-American mixture and everybody looks quite different, Lisa Bonet and Tamara Tunie are also in the series -- [the filmmakers] were pretty right on with casting. I have spent some time on the East Coast, and I have hung around with Lumbees and some of the other guys in the Boston area. Everyone is so mixed. It's not the typical Plains Indian look, not the Dances with Wolves look. It's a mixture of the different heritages. I think this is quite accurate.
How is the portrayal of the Native community in this series?
There are positives and negatives in every community and this is definitely a darker series. The characters in here are not all negative portrayals; there are good people as well. They had cultural advisers on the set and the producers went by the book -- but this is still fiction, and it is still a television show, which is in a sense heightened reality.
Some people may be looking for that sense of a "reservation" like Pine Ridge, but this is a different part of the country, and this community is not on a reservation.
At its heart, The Red Road is about conflict between Native and non-Native people living in close proximity. What can the audience take away from this conflict?
The racism that goes on between communities, both native and non-native, goes both ways, and from both sides. I think this series captures that.
What's next for you?
I am going back to do some work on Longmire. We will be doing some shooting starting March 18th. I really love working on that show -- the people are fantastic.
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