Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Cherokee-Blackfoot teen's movie debut on tap at Bentonville film fest

 

Kilcher, far left, and Chickasaw actress Lauren John. Malarie plays Te Ata's sister, "Avis," and Lauren portrays another sister "Gladys." Kilcher is cast as the renowned storyteller and actress Te Ata Thompson Fisher. "Te Ata" will be screened May 4 at 1:30 p.m. in downtown Bentonville. The movie will be shown at Cinetransformer Razorback as part of the Bentonville Film Festival.

DOVER, Ark. – In a tiny third-grade Pottsville classroom, an 8-year-old child learned the enormity of artful story-telling and acting.

Among those she studied was Te Ata Thompson Fisher, a renowned and celebrated Chickasaw Indian storyteller and actress from Oklahoma.

Malarie Drake reveled in the lesson, penned a story and entered a school story-telling competition.

She won.

She rehearsed and perfected the story for a panel of community leaders and noted professional storytellers at an arts festival.

She claimed first prize again.

Malarie could not have dreamed by the time she turned 11 years old, she would be cast as Te Ata's sister in a full-length feature film. Malarie worked with movie stars of the first order in "Te Ata," saying she bonded best with Q'orianka Kilcher, the lead actress in "Te Ata."

During filming at the Chickasaw White House near Tishomingo, Oklahoma, a scene called for Malarie and Kilcher to share the spotlight.

Before filming, Kilcher invited Malarie to sit with her in the cool grass of a shade tree, share lunch and rehearse.

"It was so much more than I could ever imagine," Malarie said. "It was amazing. I will never forget that experience. Q'orianka is so sweet and amazing. I loved working with her. It was so exciting and very special. Q'orianka is just a wonderful person."

Malarie added actors Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene "are so funny and so friendly. It was so much fun working with them."

Greene is an Oscar-nominated actor for "Dances With Wolves." In "Te Ata," he brings Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglas Johnston to life. Birmingham, cast as Te Ata's father, Thomas, is best known for his work as Billy Black in "Twilight," and more recently in the movie "The Lone Ranger."

"I'm so glad (Te Ata's) story is being shared. It is a beautiful story," Malarie said.

BLOSSOMING CAREER

The youngster remembered Te Ata from her classwork and the story-telling competition, her mother said, adding "When I saw the notice of casting calls for "Te Ata," I told Malarie about it and she exclaimed, 'I know her!'"

The entire Drake family, father Russell, mother Carrie and 16-year-old brother Malachi piled into the family auto and pointed it toward Ada, Oklahoma, where Malarie auditioned.

"Te Ata" will have its first screening May 4 at the Bentonville Film Festival. Malarie and her family plan to attend and, once again, rub elbows with Kilcher and Birmingham, both scheduled to be in Bentonville to participate in a panel discussion concerning the movie.

A year before accepting the role of Te Ata's sister, "Avis Thompson," Malarie was crowned 2013 Junior Pre-Teen Miss Arkansas. She was selected "top actress" at national pageant competition in Anaheim, California, and was awarded a scholarship to continue education in acting and improvisation.

On March 10, Malarie became a teenager.

She also became a member of the Screen Actors Guild.

In 2017, television viewers will have an opportunity to enjoy her acting skills in "Big Sky." She is cast as a mixed-blood Native American named "Ayita," which means "First to Dance," ironic because Te Ata translates to "Bearer of the Morning."

Indian heritage courses through Malarie's veins.

"My heritage is Cherokee and Blackfoot," Malarie said, adding when "Big Sky" officials learned of her acting debut in "Te Ata" they were excited. "My experience in "Te Ata" helped me."

Malarie's dream of Hollywood stardom arrived early.

LITTLE TOWNS, BIG OPPORTUNITIES

In kindergarten, she was cast as "Loosey Goosey" in "Chicken Little." Her mother observed the dream of a career in the spotlight has not dimmed for her daughter since that day.

"Malarie loves people, meeting people and interacting with them," Mrs. Drake said.

"I never, ever met a stranger," Malarie proclaims with pride.

School recesses May 20 for Malarie. She's ready. One more year in Pottsville schools and she will be able to enroll in drama class. "It's small, but the quality is first-rate," she said. A total of 110 students are in Malarie's class.

Dover, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, has a population of 1,329 souls. But the hamlet is in the shadow of Russellville, a community 28,000 Arkansans call home. It is mid-way between the state's largest cities, Little Rock, the state capital, and historic Fort Smith.

Russellville is where the Drakes attend Restoration Church and where Malarie is learning sign language to communicate with the deaf and hearing impaired.

On May 7, Malarie will venture to Little Rock to be honored for a charcoal drawing that won first place in Pottsville competition and then took a blue ribbon at the state level. The work – featuring Malarie and her cat, Mickey – will tour the state and eventually end up displayed in Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

She also knows where she will be May 4 at 1:30 p.m. – watching her performance for the first time in "Te Ata."

"Te Ata" will screen at Cinetransformer Razorback in downtown Bentonville during the annual festival hosted by silver screen star Geena Davis. Davis is famous for her roles in "Thelma and Louise" and "A League of Their Own" a star-packed movie about women's baseball during World War II.

About Mary "Te Ata" Thompson Fisher

Te Ata was born in Emet, Indian Territory, in 1895. She studied drama at Oklahoma College for Women and at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was a Native American storyteller and actress, appeared on Broadway, entertained for President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt at the White House and at their private home at Hyde Park, toured Europe entertaining royalty and traversed North and South America meeting indigenous tribes. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1957; proclaimed the state of Oklahoma's first "Treasure" in 1987 and was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 1990. Te Ata loved sharing her stories with children and is a published author. She died in Oklahoma City in 1995, just shy of her 100th birthday.

 

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