TERRY Talks is an upcoming virtual workshop series hosted by Michael Greyeyes, a multifaceted Plains Cree performer and associate professor at York. Greyeyes will discuss, over four workshops, the Indigenous narrative in Hollywood in relation to his new comedy series, Rutherford Falls, which also features Ed Helms from The Office and Sierra Teller Ornelas from Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Alomar Kocar, from the Arts, Media, Performance & Design office of the dean, explains that “students and attendees can expect his lectures to be engaging, thoughtful, and perhaps even emotional at times. Greyeyes is an extraordinary artist, storyteller, and thinker.”
“As a former student of his, I always appreciated how attentive he was to everyone in the room. When he was with you, he was with you, and when he listened, he really listened. People talk about how important it is to be ‘present’ as an artist, and I think Greyeyes is the embodiment of that,” adds Kocar.
Greyeyes plays the role of Terry Thomas, a native CEO of Running Thunder Casino, which Greyeyes explains in Vanity Fair’s recent article as being a whole character, contrary to the broken characters Greyeyes has played in the past.
“When Indigenous creatives are fulfilling many key roles in a work, the outcome is a greater range and depth in the representation of Indigenous peoples — beyond the simplistic portrayals of erroneous stereotypes that we’ve been a witness to, since the beginning of time,” says Gwenyth Dobie, an associate professor in theatre. “This important positive power shift will help subvert the subtle and not so subtle vestiges of Native stereotyping that still remain.”
Dobie furthers this conversation by highlighting the importance of Indigenous women being represented in the industry.
Women in View (WIV), a non-profit organization, released their 2019 ‘On Screen’ report. The findings show that of the “43 per cent of women in key creative TV roles in 2019, only 6.44 per cent were Black or people of colour, and only 0.94 per cent were Indigenous women.”
“The statement from the WIV report bears repeating: ‘When Indigenous women lead, more Indigenous women work.’ It is my sincere hope that through this leadership, more female Indigenous creatives will have the opportunity to share their stories, their truth, and their voice. This in turn will shift the narrative that rarely includes Indigenous women,” says Dobie.
“These workshops offer students the opportunity to engage in important dialogue and reflection,” Dobie adds. Faculty and students alike can look forward to this weekly workshop series during January as a learning experience on Indigenous representation in media and an inside perspective on the new comedy series.
“Many people will be drawn to the event because of Greyeyes’ recent meteoric rise as an actor in Hollywood,” says Kocur. “His earliest roots as an artist were planted as a ballet dancer and he has touched many lives in the theatre program at York as a director, storyteller, and teacher. Attendees will get a taste of that in this series.”