Paulina Alexis Doesn’t Care If You Think She’s ‘Too Rez’

Photo: Thalía Gochez

“What’s the matter, damn it?” through my computer speakers. A popular chorus uttered by Willie Jack, played by the character Paulina Alexis Booking dog, it never ceases to amaze me when I hear it spoken out loud on such a mainstream channel. Not so long ago, there was no way to watch a full Native project like FX’s hugely popular hit series. Before creating Booking dog In 2021, Indigenous Peoples will have to go to YouTube and watch skits and clips about the 1491s, a five-person Indigenous comedy troupe that are now the show’s celebrities.

This summer, I watched kids and adults of all ages dress up as Willie Jack at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, which has since turned into a de facto Willie Jack cosplay convention. The character has quickly become an icon with her signature look: a flip-top cap or a black cowboy hat with twin braids and a bolo tie and signature facial features. of the natives conveys “come here” or “damn”.

The character was originally written for a boy, according to Sterlin Harjo, a member of the 1491s and Booking dogpresenter and co-creator (Taika Waititi created the series with him). But after meeting Alexis, he learns that he has found someone who has a proverb with something special. “She must be on the show By some way“He remembers saying it while watching her audition.

“She was one of those actors that you honestly modeled for,” Harjo told me over the phone. “She was constantly improvising. It is just great to see. “

When I spoke to Alexis, she was sitting in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, California, with her mother, Yvette, and her aunt Veronica (“Vern”), getting ready for a photo session. They move like a possessive team to ward off any predators hiding behind smiles, cheerful hands, and lewd intentions.

Photo: Thalía Gochez

But the room was filled with cheerful spirits as I spoke to the trio over Zoom. Yvette, looking at her daughter, told me about a time she and her cousin tried to cook bacon at a park across from their house in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “She was just a child,” said Yvette, laughing. “She gathered some wood and took one of my pans; they are trying to make a breakfast outside. “

Back in the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation reservation, a town with a grocery store in Canada where the actress grew up, she would watch friends and family cook outside all the time, so she doesn’t think of that to ignite a public park. “We didn’t even know how to use a lighter,” recalls Alexis, chuckling. Her mother only learned of the whole ordeal after she was called into the office by the school administration, who grumbled that Alexis was “trying to set a fire!”

“This white girl told me,” she said. “That’s how I got caught.”

Growing up, Alexis was very talkative. Her mother told me that her family “must keep an eye on her” no matter where they are, a trait that is great for a burgeoning artist but not so good for a quiet day of shopping with her. your family. “Even when we were at Walmart, they would call us over the phone telling us where she was in the store,” Yvette said.

A few years after her failed bacon barbecue party, Alexis had another plan: to detain her school. “I tell them it’s my birthday when it’s not even mine,” she said. “When my mother came to pick me up, I had balloons in my little one. They had a party and a cake. I wore a party hat. “

From early on, it became clear that Alexis knew she could do and do a lot of things – a celebrity chef who cooks the best bacon in public parks, a cute con man – she even even got elbowed in the roller skating rink. But she’s not exactly going to be an actress. “We didn’t have a role model back then,” she says. “You didn’t see the natives on the screen and if you did, it wasn’t always in the honest way.”

But that didn’t stop her. She began choreographing skits to act with her cousins. One day, she’ll be the Ninja Turtles, followed by Spider-Man, then a character of Lord of the Rings. A few years later, she and her family moved to the city where she underwent an introduction to racism, directed at her at least.

While attending school in Edmonton, she was suspended from school several times for standing up for herself. “I was too rez,” Alexis said. (“Rez” stands for “reservation” or “reservation.”) “I have never lost my voice. The kids will ask, “Why do you say that?” And if boys harass and threaten Alexis, she will quickly remind them that she will punch back. If they start it, she will finish it. “She thought it was normal to fight with boys,” Yvette said. “They will choose me. But… I will warn them,” added the actress.

Today, Alexis is still not one to put up with idiots. She’s a hockey player, so she knows how to check. She’s a relay racer, so she knows how to ride. In fact, she taught herself how to ride a horse. A couple of her friends had several of them roaming on their property, so she dropped herself into it, damn it.

When she was a kid rez, she was also a jingle dress dancer. Indeed, Alexis comes from a large family of singers and dancers who have been successful along the way. Now 22 years old, she wants to dance on the pitch, a genre usually reserved for male dancers. However, that won’t stop her: If she wants to do something, she will do it.

Her journey to acting followed a similar path. One day she decided she wanted to be an actress and just went for it. Here she is now, making her way to Hollywood by appearing in Ghostbusters reboot the universe and join Booking dog. “She really inspired some of the work,” Harjo said of Alexis and her character, Willie Jack. “The light she brings to the show is the light she brings to everyone on set.”

Photo: Thalía Gochez

It is the same light that reverberates throughout India, even among white people. There are rumors, at least on social media, that Willie Jack will be one of the more popular costumes this Halloween. And it’s a hell so much better than rancid fake– the “Pocahottie” beanies and costumes that still run through the door at fraternity parties across America Alexis told me she despised those rotten forms of dehumanization and hoped that Booking dog will help push all those stupid stereotypes into the ground in the long run. “We are a beauty,” she said thoughtfully.

After our conversation, I moved on to other episodes of Booking dog. Alexis appeared on the screen again, Willie Jack’s voice, melody and rhythm ringing in my ears. I was reminded that a colleague recently asked, “Yes really Native American accent? And how does it sound? ” while we shared drinks after the deadline. I told them to listen to Willie Jack for examples of the many different native accents that exist.

Indeed, we should all keep an eye on the weather on Paulina Alexis. A couple of things will happen now that she captivates audiences across the country and wins an Independent Spirit and Peabody Award for her work. Booking dog. She will continue to grace the screen with her talent in Booking dogThe recently announced third season also tested the men against the wall if they dared to get out of line. And native storytellers will continue to tell our stories with our pen, voice and camera. So get ready for it and hone your native slang. You will need it.

https://www.thecut.com/2022/10/paulina-alexis-reservation-dogs-interview.html Paulina Alexis Doesn’t Care If You Think She’s ‘Too Rez’

Russell Falcon

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