Native American actors are Hollywood actors that are descendents of the first American Indians that populated the country before the settlers came into the picture. For a long time, Native American actors have received only stereotypical roles mostly because of the popularity of western movies which portrayed them as outlaws. Today, modern film makers have discovered the potential of the Native American actor and began casting him in all kinds of films.
The history of the Native American acting began back in the era of the black and white movies, when Western cowboy movies were very popular among film enthusiasts. But cowboy movies are the responsible for casting the Native American folk into a bad light. The plot of these types of films usually revolved around a conflict between the settlers and the Native Americans. Another problem with the acting part of the film is that Native American characters were played by white Caucasian actors who had to dress up to look like first Americans. They had to wear long, black wigs and feathers to look like real Native Americans.
As the movie industry evolved, some first American actors were able to break into the mainstream. These early successes were achieved by actors like Jay Silverheels in ‘Lone Ranger’, Dan George, James Young Deer and Sacheen Littlefeather. Native American actors can be easily recognized by their name, which is a proof of their native legacy. Still, some choose to change their names, while others want to keep it because they are proud of their origins.
Graham Greene is one of the most famous Native American actors today. His popularity comes from co-starring with Kevin Costner in the movie ‘Dances with Wolves’.
Some extremely popular mainstream actors who are not full-blooded First Americans, but carry some sort of Native American heritage include Johnny Depp, Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz, Megan Fox and Tommy Lee Jones.