Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Out-of-Show Photos

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar: You know that classic actor’s arc, painstakingly building from bit parts to bigger roles, withstanding rejection and despair? Yeah, that’s not Kiawentiio’s story.

The Mohawk Canadian actor was cast in the first thing she auditioned for, the hit CBC/Netflix series Anne with an E. Her next role was the title character in Tracey Deer’s wrenching, semi-autobiographical film Beans, followed by a gig on Rutherford Falls.

Stay with this part of Movies from the series of entertainment in Eternal Pen magazine.

Read more: BAFTA’s best styles+ winners list

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar1

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar: And now she’s the second lead in a gigantic Netflix series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, a live-action reimagining of the beloved animated series (2005-08), shot mostly in British Columbia, arriving Feb. 22. And she’s only 17.

With her co-stars, Kiawentiio spent six weeks at “bending boot camp,” where each learned the martial art their movements are based on: wushu for Firebending, tai chi for Waterbending, Hung Ga for Earthbending and Bagua for Airbending.

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar2

They shot on a cutting-edge mix of green screens, practical sets – Kyoshi Village was built in a working quarry in Coquitlam, B.C.; Jet’s hideout was filmed at WildPlay, a ziplining park in Maple Ridge, B.C. – and volume stages, including the world’s largest LED video wall studio, a near-circle lined with 2,500 LED wall panels and 760 LED ceiling panels, at Canadian Motion Picture Park in Burnaby, B.C.

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar3

“That stage was warm,” Kiawentiio says, laughing. “Wearing Katara’s big blue parka, pretending to be in the Arctic while being in a microwave.” Watching the animated series come to life was “surreal,” she continues.

“When you see Appa in front of you” – a flying beast that combines bison, hippo and manatee – “or even small things like my necklace – I remember being almost in tears.”

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar4

Each of the four Airbender nations has real-world roots, including Omashu, Himalayan, Indonesian and Indigenous Arctic cultures; cultural consultants advised on folklore, history and mythology, as well as costumes, calligraphy and artifacts; and the series’ four directors are of Asian descent.

That mattered, Kiawentiio says: “It’s 100-per-cent important to me that I represent where I come from, my people and my language. That comes with me to every character I portray.”

Kiawentiio as Katara in Avatar5

Her opportunity to embody authentic Indigenous characters has never been higher, as a spate of recent series attest: Reservation Dogs, Little Bird, Echo, True Detective: Night Country, the Yellowstone franchise.

Lily Gladstone could well become the first Indigenous woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, for Killers of the Flower Moon. And Deer, Kiawentiio’s Beans director was an excellent role model: “Being able to see her be the leader, be so strong, opened my eyes to other things I can explore – directing, producing.”

But she doesn’t want portraying Indigenous characters to become its own kind of limit. “Those roles will always be at my root; they are what I can see myself in and relate to.

That doesn’t have to be the end of what we’re capable of, though. We don’t have to just play the Indian friend, the Native guy. We can be just that doctor or teacher or lawyer, those regular roles. The days of just getting a role, and not The Native role, are still ahead of us.”

These contents are also interesting:

Biography of David Beckham: former football star and husband of Victoria Beckham

theglobeandmailImage source: instagram

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button