By Katie Chambers
Welcome to NYWIFT, Tanis Parenteau! Tanis Parenteau is Métis/Cree from the Métis Nation of Alberta. She is an actor, producer, and casting director. Her work focuses on uplifting Native voices telling contemporary and futuristic Native stories.
As an actor, she has appeared on Billions, House of Cards, Designated Survivor, FBI: Most Wanted, Gossip Girl, and Tribal, and she has performed at The Public Theater, Signature Theater, 59E59, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Tanis has produced eight short films, has a short form digital series in post-production, and is developing multiple Native-led features and series. She is an associate casting director at tbd casting co in NYC.
Her latest project, the short film Glenburn 12 WP, is fiscally sponsored by NYWIFT.
Tanis spoke to us about her dedication to uplifting Native voices, how working in casting has influenced her performing, and the best advice she’s ever received.
Tell us about yourself – give us your elevator pitch!
I am Native American (Metis/Cree), an actor, and an emerging producer. My work focuses on decolonizing the entertainment space by uplifting Native voices, who are telling contemporary and futuristic Native stories, and working with as many Native creatives above and below the line as possible.
What has been your favorite project to date and why?
The short film I’m producing right now, Glenburn 12 WP. It started out as a play that I did at 59E59 Theater in NYC 2015. I love the play so much and have always wanted to turn it into a film and now I am!
You have said that “uplifting contemporary Indigenous stories and smashing harmful Indigenous stereotypes” is very important to you. How do you aim to accomplish that in your creative work?
I chose to focus on work written by Native writers who are telling contemporary and futuristic stories in genres I feel like we don’t see enough of when we see Native content – genres like comedy, romance, sci-fi, horror, thriller.
In addition to acting, you also do freelance work in casting. How has your work as an actor informed your work on “the other side of the table” at auditions?
I feel it’s more the other way around, my work in casting has really informed my work as an actor. Mainly, to approach auditioning as if it is my first day on set and this is my first take.
I’ve also learned to not overthink technical things and things I can’t control when self-taping at home.
Also, timely communication is imperative!
What kinds of projects excite you?
Projects that are led by the people whose story is being told.
What is the best advice you ever received?
A “no” is a redirection. It just means you have a different path.
What inspired you to join NYWIFT and how do you hope to engage with the organization?
[NYWIFT Board Member] Yvonne Russo encouraged me to join. I hope to build my network of NYC filmmakers to find awesome people to work with on my projects and theirs.
And what is next for you?
Finishing Glenburn 12 WP, which is in post right now, and looking forward to a festival run; festival runs for two other shorts, Dating Indian and The Politics; an APTN lumi short form series launching January 2024; and I’m developing a feature and a series adapted from plays written by Vickie Ramirez (writer of Glenburn 12 WP).
Welcome to NYWIFT, Candece Tarpley! Candece Tarpley, of Sissipahaw/Tuscarora/Tsalagi descent, is a World Champion Powwow dancer, an actress and a poet-storyteller-playwright who has been writing since childhood. Holding her heritage close, she's been a featured performer nationwide, weaving her crafts with the patrons of the Public Library of Boulder Colorado; Middlebury College in Vermont; Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Pequot Museum in Connecticut; the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Natural History in New York City, as well as other creative venues. Candece spoke to us about how her Indigenous heritage influences her work, the response to her television series, and her next major projects.READ MORE
New York based filmmaker Melissa Morales is a first-generation Puerto Rican Latina alum from CUNY Brooklyn College with a BA in Film Production, holding a magna cum laude GPA. Melissa is an aspiring writer, director, producer and production designer, and multimedia content creator. She has written, directed, & produced four short films in 2022, with her thesis "Bigger" winning a NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award at Brookly College and a NYIFA Best Student Director Award both in 2023! Melissa tells us about receiving the NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award, her role as a writer, director, and producer, and more!READ MORE
Introducing NYWIFT Member Sarah Eagle Heart! Sarah is a filmmaker and social justice storyteller from the Oglala Lakota tribe on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sarah shares her creative journey from writing a book with her twin sister about reflections of identity, to working with musical icon John Legend, to her latest feature film.READ MORE
Let’s give a warm welcome to Alisa Lomax! Based in Detroit, Alisa is an award-winning producer and director who is interested in providing a platform for characters who are in the midst of navigating hardships. Some of her most celebrated projects include Maya and Her Lover, Layla’s Girl, and the documentary When I Need to Smile, which centers on philanthropist and jazz label founder Gretchen Carhartt Valade. Alisa was one of just 13 Detroit writers to be selected as part of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Find out more about Alisa as we discuss her amazing 20+ year career trajectory, which includes her transition from working in corporate jobs to more artistic endeavors, and her current role in a digital arts program that aims to introduce the art of filmmaking to kids!READ MORE