Top 10 famous Native American actors and actresses in Hollywood

Top 10 famous Native American actors and actresses in Hollywood

Native American actors and actresses have been represented in the motion picture industry since the early days of Hollywood. For years, Native Americans have been portrayed in Westerns, albeit in largely stereotypical parts. As time has progressed, they have been given more opportunities to play complex individuals in critically acclaimed films.

Native American celebrities
A photo of famous Native American celebrities. Photo: @Jay Silverheels, @Russell Means, @Saginaw Grant, @Tantoo Cardinal, @Irene Bedard (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

These Native actors have gone on to become Oscar and Golden Globe nominees and winners. This list of famous Native Americans captures the career highlights of ten famous Native American celebrities.

Famous Native American actors

Have a look at some of the famous Native American actors that are well known.

1.Graham Greene

Native American actors
Graham Greene at the M1-5 in New York City, NY. Photo: Stephen Lovekin
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Graham Greene
  • Date of birth: June 22, 1952
  • Place of birth: Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada.
  • Age: 68 (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actor and writer
  • Tribe: Oneida

Starting his life, he worked as a carpenter, a rock music roadie, a welder, band manager, and a recording studio owner.

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Graham Greene began acting in the mid-1970s, where he performed in several theatrical productions in Toronto.

His TV debut was in an episode of The Great Detective in 1979. In 1983, he landed a significant role in the film Running Brave, where he played Eddie Mills' role.

Throughout the 1980s, he appeared in other various films and tv shows. He gained more fame when he was awarded an Oscar nod for best supporting actor for his work in Dances with Wolves (1990).

Some of his recent notable films and TV shows include

  • 2015: Unnatural
  • 2017: Wind River
  • 2017: The Shack
  • 2017: Molly's Game
  • 2018: Riverdale
  • 2018: Through Black Spruce
  • 2018: The Detour
  • 2018: Red Dead Redemption 2
  • 2019: Goliath
  • 2021: Antlers
  • 2021: American Gods

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2. Adam Beach

Native American actor
Adam Beach attends the world premiere of Suicide Squad at The Beacon Theatre in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Adam Beach
  • Date of birth: November 11, 1972
  • Place of birth: Ashern, Manitoba, Canada
  • Age: 48 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actor
  • Tribe: Anishinaabe member of the Saulteaux tribe

Adam Beach is the son of Sally and Dennis Beach. He was raised in Dog Creek First Nation Reserve with his two brothers.

A drunk driver killed his mother while his dad drowned weeks after his mother's death. Adam is best known for his role as Victor in Smoke Signals and Tommy in Walker, Texas Ranger.

He started his career by attending drama class at Gordon Bell High School, which inspired him to perform at the local theatre, and then dropping out of school to pursue his acting career in full force.

Concerning his private life, the actor has been married three times and has three children. He has two sons, Noah, born 1996 and Luke, born 1998 and a daughter, Phoenix.

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Some of the recent films and tv shows he has appeared in include:

Films

  • 2017: Juliana & the Medicine Fish
  • 2017: Hostiles
  • 2019: Juanita
  • 2020: The New Mutants
  • 2020: Percy
  • 2021:The Power of the Dog

TV shows

  • 2017: Monsters of God
  • 2019: Drunk History
  • 2019: Supernatural
  • 2019–2020: Nancy Drew
  • 2020: The Good Doctor

Adam is considered to be one of the famous Native American actors male gender that has done great in the Hollywood industry.

3. Russell Means

Native American actor
Russell Means leaves the meeting that was mediated by the clergy in hopes of bringing peace to all sides in the Columbus Day Parade. Photo: Hyoung Chang
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Russell Means
  • Date of birth: November 10, 1939
  • Place of birth: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota
  • Died on: October 22, 2012
  • Occupation: Actor, writer, musician and political activist
  • Tribe: Ongala Lakota

Russell Means became a political activist in 1960 and eventually emerged as the first national director of the American Indian Movement(AIM).

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Later on, he turned into acting and made his career film debut in 1992's Last of the Mohicans, starring as chief Chingachgook.

Before his death, he appeared in numerous TV-series and several films. He also published his autobiography, Why White Men Fear to Tread, in 1995.

Some of his famous films and shows include:

Films

  • 2007: Pathfinder
  • 2007: Unearthed
  • 2007: Intervention
  • 2008: Rez Bomb
  • 2009: Reel Injun
  • 2012: Tiger Eyes
  • Days and Nights

TV shows

  • 1996: Walker, Texas Ranger
  • 2004: Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • 2005: Into the West
  • 2009: American Experience
  • 2013: Banshee

He recorded a CD entitled Electric Warrior in 1993, which had several songs like Une Gentle Indio and Hey You. He also released his first album, The Radical album in 2007.

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Means was also a married man married five times; four of his marriages ended in divorce. He had a total of ten children, seven biological and three adopted.

He later died on October 22, 2012, as a result of esophageal cancer.

4. Saginaw Grant

Native American actors male
Saginaw Grant attends the screening of Fox Searchlight's Jojo Rabbit at San Diego International Film Festival at Balboa Theatre in San Diego, California. Photo: Andrew Toth
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Saginaw Grant
  • Date of birth: July 20, 1936
  • Place of birth: Pawnee, Oklahoma, US.
  • Age: 84 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actor, dancer and motivational speaker

Who is the most famous Native American actor? Saginaw Grant is one of most famous Native actors that has been in the acting industry for a while now.

He is the chief of Sac and Fox Nation. Grant has appeared in numerous films and TV shows which include:

Films

  • 2007: Slipstream
  • 2009: Maneater
  • 2009: Walking on Turtle Island
  • 2013: Winter in the Blood
  • 2015: Wind Walkers
  • 2017: Valley of the Gods
  • 2017: Journey to the Royal

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TV shows

  • 2013: Breaking Bad
  • 2014: Shameless
  • 2014: Community
  • 2015: Workaholics
  • 2016: Basket

Grants is the adoptive father of the actress and social activist Mariana Tosca.

5. Jay Silverheels

Native actors
Jay Silverheels as Chief Eagle Cloud in The Brady Braves. Photo: CBS
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Harold Jay Smith
  • Date of birth: May 26, 1912
  • Place of birth: Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, Canada
  • Died: March 5 1980
  • Occupation: Actor, athlete and poet

Before Jay Silverheels became a famous actor, he was an excellent athlete. He played for various teams in Toronto alongside his brothers and cousins.

He began his acting in 1937, working in motion pictures as an extra and stunt man. In 1944 he was cast in a short film, I Am an American.

Since his debut, he appeared in other films and TV shows, playing major roles. Some of his major movies and shows are:

  • The Grit
  • In Pursuit of Treasure
  • One Little Indian
  • The Man Who Loved Cat Dance
  • The Virginian
  • Cannon
  • CHiPs

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Concerning his personal life, he was a father of six, two boys and four girls. He died on March 5, 1980, from complications of a stroke.

Famous Native American actresses

Have a look at some of the young Native American actresses that have amassed themselves in the Hollywood industry.

6. Tantoo Cardinal

Native American actresses
Tantoo Cardinal attends the ABC Television's Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena in Pasadena, California. Photo: Rodin Eckenroth
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Tantoo Cardinal
  • Date of birth: July 20 1950
  • Place of birth: Anzac, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
  • Age: 70 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actress

Tantoo Cardinal started acting in part to change the public perceptions of the Native Americans.

She is best known for her roles in films such as Dances With Wolves (1990), Legends of the Fall (1994), and Smoke Signals (1998), as well as the television shows like Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman.

Cardinal continues her political activism today. In August 2011, she and actress Margot Kidder were arrested during an environmental protest at the White House.

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The actress has been married three times, two of her marriages ending in divorce. She is a mother of three kids, two sons and a daughter.

7. Irene Bedard

Native American actress
Actress Irene Bedard attends Ron And Laura Take Back America Los Angeles Premiere at Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Paul Redmond
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Irene Bedard
  • Date of birth: July 22 1967
  • Place of birth: Anchorage, Alaska, US.
  • Age: 53 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actress

Irene Bedard began her acting career in theatre. She made her film debut in the cable TV film Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994), for which she received critical acclaim.

During the same period, Bedard appeared in the Disney film Squanto: A Warrior's Tale (1994).

In recent years, Bedard has made more headlines for her personal life than for her acting after accusing former husband Denny Wilson of emotional and domestic abuse and asking for the public's support in her legal battles with Wilson.

8. Julia Jones

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Native American actresses
Julia Jones attends the premiere of Disney+'s The Mandalorian at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Julia Jones
  • Date of birth: January 23, 1981
  • Place of birth: Boston, Massachusetts, US.
  • Age: 40 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actress

Julia Jones is a Native American actress known for playing Leah Clearwater in The Twilight Saga.

She began working in the commercial and local theatre when she was eight. The actress has appeared in various films and tv shows, playing different roles. They include:

Films

  • 2013: Winter in the Blood
  • 2015: The Ridiculous 6
  • 2017: Wind River
  • 2018: Tao of Surfing
  • 2018: Angelique's Isle
  • 2019: Cold Pursuit
  • 2020: Think Like a Dog

TV shows

  • 2013: The Thanksgiving House
  • 2015: Longmire
  • 2017: High School Lover
  • 2018: Westworld
  • 2019: Goliath
  • 2019: The Mandalorian

9. Kimberly Guerrero

Native American actress
Kimberly Guerrero speaks during Equality Now's Virtual Make Equality Reality Gala in United States. Photo: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Kimberly Guerrero
  • Date of birth: January 17, 1962
  • Place of birth: USA
  • Age: 59 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actress

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Kimberly Gurrero is a famous American actress, director and writer who is well known for playing Isabel Lighfather in The Good, the Bad and the Cursed.

She has also made appearances in various films and television projects.

They include:

  • Montana Story
  • The Wilds
  • The Dark Divide
  • Frozen Stupid 2: Open Water
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Bones
  • Blood & Oil

Concerning her personal life, she is married to Johnny Guerrero, who is a composer and actor.

10. Alex Rice

Native American actress
Actress Alex Rice arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 held at Nokia Theatre L.A. in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Lester Cohen
Source: Getty Images
  • Name: Alex Rice
  • Date of birth: September 16 1972
  • Place of birth: Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
  • Age: 48 years (as of 2021)
  • Occupation: Actress

Alex Rice's first job was working behind the scenes at the Judge Judy show. In 2001 she made her career debut in the film industry, playing a role in The Doe Boy an independent film.

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She is best known for her recurring role as Janet Petw in the films, Skinwalker, Dreamkeeper and Thief of Time. She has appeared in various films and television series such as Spin City, CSI, Strong Medicine and The Sopranos.

She is married to Matthew Deer, and together they are blessed with two children, Bella and Julian.

These Native American actors and actresses have been in the Hollywood industry for a long duration now, playing different roles in various films and TV shows. They are a great inspiration to many people.

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