REZ: Interview with Actress Jessica Redthunder

Jessica Redthunder

Jessica Redthunder

Last June, the independent film project, REZ, set a crowd-funding record on Seed & Spark by reaching its funding goals in just 72 hours

LRInspire recently caught up with one of the stars of REZ, Jessica Redthunder, to talk about the film, her role and her future plans.

1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jessica Redthunder. I’m a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. I got into acting at a young age, participating in a local school play as a young girl. I even wrote my first play at age 10. I took an acting class with William Yellowrobe in college and he was a big influence on my choice to pursue acting.

2. How did you get involved with the Rez movie? Is this your first time acting in a film?

I got involved with the film through Tara Ryan, whom I got to know through Mr. Yellowrobe. She is involved with the Native American acting community and has helped me out me out a lot as well. REZ was my first time acting on a film, which was a bit scary at first, but I easily got use to it

3. Tell us about the script/film, the character you play and how you prepared for the role?

REZ is about the young Native’s modern day struggle for survival on the reservation. It’s loosely based on a member of the Leech Lake tribe. It’s a heartbreaking story, but it is also inspirational. My character is sort of the love interest to the lead character. It was easy preparing for the role of Saundra, because as a Native woman, I have had my fair share of loss and struggle, so I could easily relate to her.


“Jess Redthunder has the rare ability to embody contradictions without bursting.  This is something that seems to come naturally to all women on the rez, be they Anishinaabe or Dakota, but to Jess in quantities that are even greater than the normal person.  She is, much like Harry Fairbanks (see Director’s Note 101) a born actor, or at least one of tremendous talent.”  ~From REZ Director’s Notes

4. What’s next for the film and what’s next for you?

The film will continue to be shown across Indian country and be put in film festivals. I am still pursuing acting and I thoroughly enjoy doing it.

Daniel Nightbird is an Ojibwe teen living on the Leech Lake reservation who’s taking care of his young sister alone. Down to his last dollar, when he’s suddenly evicted it sets in motion a desperate search for a safe place on the Rez, which is harder to come by than even he imagined.”

For more information on REZ

By: Wakinyan Waanatan (Matt Remle)


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