Taylor Sheridan is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after filmmakers, pioneering a new production style with his massive hit Yellowstone.We all know Sheridan can tell a story well, as we have seen him do on the Western-inspired series, but has he overstepped taking on a new Native-themed project?
Right after he secured the bid to write and direct the screen adaptation of Empire of the Summer Moon, based on the 2010 novel Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, Native Hollywood has spoken out on their thoughts of Sheridan telling their history through film.
Taylor Sheridan is set to direct an adaption of ‘EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON’.
The story follows the historical account of the 4 decade struggle between the Comanche tribe and white settlers to control the American West.
While this is not Sheridan’s first stab at historical pieces, having directed Wind River, along with Yellowstone prequels 1883 and 1923, many are not thrilled that he is taking on a project that highlights the great Comanche chief.
Yahoo! Entertainment sat down with some of today’s Hollywood stars to hear their opinions on Sheridan stepping up for these projects, and their response is less than favorable.
“I rolled my eyes so hard, they almost popped out of my face. It’s laughable that he continues to think that he’s the right person for this job.”
Said Lakota actress/writer Jana Schmieding.
“He shoots on his own ranch. And he uses his own horses. You know, he’s really making a dime off of our stories.
Why are we letting this happen when [Native people] have so little opportunity in the industry still, and the shows that we have had are critically acclaimed but they don’t get the kind of attention that his shows get? They don’t get platformed to the same degree. We do not make the same amount of money that he makes. It’s problematic on so many levels.”
Sheridan opened himself up to critisim when he announced that Empire of the Summer Moon, would be shot at his South Texas ranch and production facilty. Yahoo! reported that “Paramount reportedly pays the showrunner as much as $50,000 a week, according to the Wall Street Journal. And his horses? They can cost $2,000 per head, the outlet reported.”
Dark Winds star Kiowa Gordon, a Hualapai actor, was much more direct in sharing his distaste for Sheridan taking charge of these projects.
“I think Taylor should stay out of Indian country.”
While some have very strong opinions, other Native actors who have worked with Sheridan in the past, like Mo Brings Plenty, a cast member of Yellowstone, saw the light that Sheridan was sharing the culture and history with a larger audience.
“I’ve worked with Taylor for a number of years, and so I trust Taylor deeply, and I know that [the Comanches’] story and their culture, mainly their culture, and their language is in great hands.
“If there’s a tribe that is represented, then what I do is, if I don’t already have an existing relationship with the tribal council, I form one. And then I go to the grassroots people, because I want to give credit to those that maintain language, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural understanding, because to me, they’re the ones that endured it all. And so it is my way, and our way, of saying thank you to them.”
So when people condemn Taylor Sheridan, I kind of take offense. … I’m hurt by it, because I don’t like fighting with our own people. And I feel that the more that is told and shared — I don’t care who’s doing it as long as it’s done with accuracy — then the better off we’re all going to be in Indian country.”
While Plenty speaks very highly of Sheridan and the hands that his project is in, the overarching consensus is that Native Hollywood is not happy.
Jana Schmieding summed up her thoughts, sharing one last reason as to why she is not thrilled with Sheridan.
“It perpetuates this narrative that we do not have the capacity, we do not have the talent or skill to tell our own stories, when the reality is that we actually do not have the opportunity. We are being systematically excluded from telling our own stories because of people like [Sheridan], who take up so much space and air.
To me, he has enough. He has enough. Pass the mic. Step aside.”
Now that Sheridan has received fire for undertaking this project, he will either sink or swim. As Martin Scorsese received lots of feedback that he focused too much on the white man’s perspective when directing Killers of the Flower Moon, Sheridan will have to ensure he is telling the story of the Comanche tribe solely from their perspective.
And speaking of Killers of the Flower Moon, Lily Gladstone, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the movie, recently criticized Sheridan while admitting in the same breath that she auditioned for his films multiple times.
Yellowstone Season 5 is set to return for the series conclusion this coming November: