Jana Schmieding, the Oregon-raised actor who stars in the FX series Reservation Dogs, is beginning work on Auntie Chuck, a new film that she will write, produce and direct.
“I am excited to be writing my first movie with a Native central character, because the industry is open to that,” Schmieding told Underscore, which first detailed the production. “Whereas, I think, even just a few years ago, I would have had to write a feature film where my Indigeneity is not central to the story.”
Schmieding (Mniconjou and Sicangu Lakota) is centering the film on a character she describes as a “rezzy spinster” caring for her siblings.
“I’m inspired by the movie Uncle Buck, starring John Candy,” Schmieding said. “I really wanted to tell the story of an auntie who doesn’t necessarily fit the role of ‘auntie’ very well at first but learns through her ‘niblings.’”
Schmieding, who grew up in Canby, is a rising star in the entertainment industry. In addition to her role as Bev on Reservation Dogs (a cultural phenomenon created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, the director of Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit), she also co-wrote and starred in the sitcom Rutherford Falls.
Auntie Chuck is supported by Sundance Native Labs, which offers fellowships to Indigenous filmmakers. It’s the culmination of a long journey for Schmieding, who got her start as an actor doing improv at Magnet Theater in New York City (while teaching middle and high school).