LOS ANGELES: The Autry Museum of the American West announced today the appointment of DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) as the new co-artistic director of Native Voices, the only Equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to developing and producing new work by Native American artists.
“DeLanna has played many roles, both on- and offstage, but the one I am most excited to see her in is co-artistic director of Native Voices,” said W. Richard West, Jr. (Southern Cheyenne), the Autry’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Between her professional achievements and work as an advocate for Native communities, I know that she will continue Native Voices’ mission with the mix of strategic thinking and artistic aplomb she is known for across a range of creative industries.”
Added Randy Reinholz (Choctaw), producing artistic director and co-founder of Native Voices, who will work alongside Studi for the next few months, in a statement, “I have had the pleasure of working with DeLanna in her roles as actor and playwright for almost 20 years. It will be wonderful to work with her now as she steps into this new leadership role as Native Voices, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, moves into the next 25 years…DeLanna is ideally situated to seize on the possibilities while leading in pragmatic and strategic ways. Her reputation in the American theatre and the larger entertainment industry means she can continue to build on Native Voices’ unique position of opening doors for Native theatre artists while creating pathways for understanding through telling Native stories.”
Studi will be join Reinholz as he and co-founder and producing executive director Jean Bruce Scott transition into emeritus roles with Native Voices. Among Studi’s first projects will be overseeing the run of Native Voices’ world premiere of Lying With Badgers, opening Feb. 28. Written by Jason Grasl (Blackfeet), directed by Reinholz, and dramaturged by Courtney Elkin Mohler (Santa Barbara Chumash), this dark comedy—featuring puppets who interact with humans—tells the story of two estranged brothers of the Blackfeet nation.
“As an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, my work as an artist has been defined by Gadugi, a Cherokee word meaning ‘the coming together of a people to celebrate, support, and promote each other,'” said Studi in a statement. “The word Gadugi embodies the spirit of teamwork that I believe can ensure that Native Voices remains a vibrant organization with national stature and global impact. As co-artistic director, I will bring the spirit of Gadugi to co-leading the organization and to empowering the next generation of indigenous artists.”
With more than 25 years of experience as a performer, storyteller, educator, facilitator, advocate, and activist, Studi has theatre credits that include the first national Broadway tour of August: Osage County, Off-Broadway’s Gloria: A Life at the Daryl Roth Theatre, Informed Consent at the Duke Theater on 42nd Street, and regional theatres (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone, and Indiana Repertory Theater). Studi originated roles in over 18 world premieres, including 14 Native productions. A pivotal moment in her career was writing and performing And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears, based on retracing her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears with her father, which has been produced throughout the country, and was the first American play chosen for the Journees Theatricales de Carthage in Tunisia, Africa. In film and television, Studi can be seen in Edge of America, Hallmark’s Dreamkeeper, Goliath, Shameless, and General Hospital.
Native Voices at the Autry was founded in 1994 by Reinholz and Scott, and became the resident theatre company at the Autry Museum of the American West in 1999. In 2014 the company established the Native Voices Artists Ensemble to more fully support the extraordinary talents of its Native actors, writers, producers, musicians, and directors.