Dene Nahjo founding member Melaw Nakehk’o made her red carpet debut in Hollywood last night at the world premiere of The Revenant, a new film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro Iñárritu.
It was the first film for Nahehk’o, a Dehcho and Denesuline Dene artist and mother from Liidlii Kue (Fort Simpson) in Denendeh (Northwest Territories). She plays the lead female role of Powaqa, the kidnapped daughter of an Arikara warrior.
On the red carpet, Nakehk’o modelled a dress resulting from a recent collaboration between Indigenous artist Christi Belcourt with Italian design house Valentino, along with jewelry by Keri Ataumbi of Ataumbi Metals, also an Indigenous artist from Santa Fe.
During interviews, Nakehk’o spoke about the importance of supporting “culturally appropriate collaborations” between Indigenous artists and fashion designers, calling out the cultural theft that often takes place when designers become “inspired” by Indigenous arts and fail to give credit.
Nakehk’o also spoke to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in North America. When asked how she prepared for her first-ever role as Powaqa, she said it was through honouring the lives of Indigenous women, who are subjected to disproportionate levels of violence.
Watch her red carpet interview here:
Despite it being her acting debut, Nakehk’o’s performance has also garnered positive reviews, including this statement from producer Mary Parent in a recent interview:
And there’s the Native American daughter, kidnapped by French explorers, and rescued by Glass. The latter lady (Melaw Nakehk’o) plays a crucial part in the end of the film, saving his life with one icy look.
“You think it won’t end well. But it’s one of my favorite shots in the movie. You see the integrity and the honor and the quid pro quo. She’s got this strength and this nobility and she found her way home,” says producer Mary Parent.
Read Nakehk’o’s interview with CBC North Trail’s End host Lawrence Nayally:
More photos from the evening:
Watch the trailer for the film: