March 15th, 2015 Last Updated on: March 15th, 2015
Actor. Producer. Powwow Champion. Sam Bearpaw distinguishes himself in the Powwow arena and in the area of media. This mighty Apache's film credits include the recent “Cowboy Zombies”, “Yellow Rock” and “Nate and the Colonel”. On Powwow Highway, Sam Bearpaw tells us, “I am ‘Athabaskin Blood’ of the ‘Warm Springs’ and ‘White Mountain Apache’ Tribe – (Southwest) as he distinguishes himself by Northern Traditional, Grass Dancing and Chicken Dancing.
Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor
DK: Movie fans rejoice! It's thrilling to visit with you! You're truly multi talented!
SB: Hi Dawn, it is a pleasure visiting with you,and thank you!!! Well, as far as being multi-talented, I guess that's a good way to put it, as I try to do anything and everything that requires fun, from powwow dancing and singing to surfing,snow boarding,making movies, documentaries, PSAs and anything that helps NATIVE PEOPLE progress in their daily lives. That always makes a person feel good!
I recently drove out to White River in Arizona to take clothes and new shoes just before Christmas for the giveaway for children and seniors. That's what makes me happy, so that's about how I would describe what I do.
DK: Impressive! Will you share how you started acting and performing?
SB: Well, a number of years ago, I had auditioned for a commercial. Once I got an agent, then I just kept on getting parts on TV like on “Party of Five,” “Babylon 5” and a bunch of other projects. I wasn't going to give up my day job because you can't really rely on Hollywood to keep you gainfully employed, but you just gotta keep on plugging and eventually it could possibly be right for you, but getting in movies is not an easy task.
DK: It's great to have such sound advice from someone who really knows the business!
SB: Well, if you keep on working on your acting and facial expressions, you WILL get work if you know the right people. I also gotta say it's a great adventure and a lot of fun!
DK: Now, what do you enjoy most about acting?
SB: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the physical aspect such as riding horses and chasing the cavalry to playing the DEADLIEST WARRIOR on SPIKE TV and you can't forget how hard it is to actually play the part and be that character. That kinda challenges me but now I don't get nervous anymore! I have fun with it!
DK: We'd love to hear about some of the fun! Adventure time!
SB: WOW! I have so many stories and crazy fun times, it seems as though every set I've been on has always been a time of laughs and good friends! I've been part of some really dangerous stunts, like riding amongst a heck of a lot of BIG BUFFALO herds for the HISTORY CHANNEL! After their scary stories of goring by mad Buffalo taking out the horses and riders, it made you a little leery, but nevertheless it was part of the adventure!
DK: THRILLING! As a Native man, who walks in Native ways, what do you think is important to you as an actor?
SB: Well, as far as acting and being Indigenous, I feel that I MUST keep the integrity of the Native people and NEVER EVER play parts that show partying and drinking alcohol, or hurting our women or anything that would hurt our beautiful REAL WAY of LIFE. I have turned down parts that contain that negative aspect and urge all up and coming actors and actresses to shy away from Hollywood's way of portraying the American Native. I'm very lucky to be able to be alive in the 21st century making changes in the movie making world.
DK: Well said! I admire your integrity! I've never even tasted alcohol or used a drug in my whole life, so you really encouraged me when you said you would turn down a role that had that kind of negative image! Your Native identity seems to be a big part of your career…tell us about that?
SB: Being Native as a young boy was very trying. Everyone knows the stories how they treat Natives and it's really true. It still goes on today, but that will all pass as we get more and more prominent in today's entertainment world and are able to do what we need to do for ALL NATIVE TRIBES! EVERYONE that wants to do this sort of work, I ENCOURAGE ALL of YOU to GO FOR IT! But remember !!! HAVE FUN WITH IT and WHEN you get a part don't let your head swell up so big you have to carry it in a wheelbarrow! Be humble, enjoy every minute of your beautiful life, make the most of everyday, eat well, stay healthy and strong for YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES. Be kind to other people,too!
DK: What do you see in your acting future?
SB: Hopefully, the opportunities will keep on coming, and the future is unlimited as far as we can go! Bringing all the new NATIVE talent into the spotlight is one of my aspirations for the ALL the NATIVE PEOPLES OF TURTLE ISLAND, so they can tell THIER story!
DK: Thank you for inspiring us today!
SB: IT WAS AN HONOR TO BE INTERVIEWED BY YOU, DAWN! THANK YOU AND ALL THE MOVIE FANS AND UP AND COMING NATIVE SUPER STARS!
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