5 Questions for Oscar Winner Wes Studi

by Sean Healen

As you might have heard, Santa Fe’s own Wes Studi was recently awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar. Wes is the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar. The Academy wanted to recognize his body of work for its authenticity and breadth.

During his acceptance speech, Studi told the audiend "I'd simply like to say, it's about time. It's been a wild and wonderful ride, and I'm really proud to be here tonight as the first indigenous Native American to receive an Academy Award. It's a humbling honour to receive an award for something I love to do," according to The National.

Studi has had memorable roles in Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo: An American Legend and The New World among many others.

Wes and I are longtime friends, yet we never talk about career. I realized that there are many things I don’t know about Wes and what shaped him as an actor. I figured you might want to know also!

The following interview was conducted by texting back and forth between October 8th and October 10th.

What was your first professional acting job?

“My first pro acting job was a stage play titled Black Elk Speaks. The year was 1984. The company was American Indian Theatre Co. I had a number of roles, none of which were the lead...The play starred the late Will Sampson and David Carradine. The pay wasn’t much but it was actual Pay!”

How old were you when you knew you wanted to  be an actor?

“I must have been in my late thirties when I finally decided to literally refer to myself as an actor. Not an easy thing to do.”

What are your favorite (top three) roles that you have played?

“I’m hesitant to indicate my favorites so as not to underrate others, though I will say my role as Sam Franklin in The Only Good Indian was a deep dive in to subject matter I had long avoided in my real life. And Geronimo and Magua have been very good for my career.”

Do you want to direct a major picture or series?

“I’m probably like 75 percent of working actors when I say Yes, what I really want to do is Direct!!”

Pie: blueberry or peach?

“It’s an absolute tie between Peach and Blueberry! Though I must add Apricot to the list of preferences.”

Congratulations to Wes for his history making achievement!

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