Mekko Toretto (Blackfoot, Samoan and Taino descent) is a writer, director, actor, and proud son of Oklahoma. As an actor most notably known for Reservation Dogs season 2 and the upcoming Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon, he has a habit of dreaming with his eyes open. “Anything can be a movie,” he says “I get very inspired by the things I see.” Mekko is following his lifelong dream of making films. “Technically I started out as an actor when I was 6 years old.” He talks about wearing the Batsuit that his grandmother sewed him every day.  He lived across the street from an Alzheimer’s/Dementia home and around 3PM everyday the patients would come out to get some sun. “They would all come gather and stand against the fence and watch me act out my bat shenanigans. I loved performing for them.” CNFO had the opportunity to speak with Mekko about his more recent performances, the importance of Indigenous representation, and his upcoming projects.

Why is Native representation in film and TV important to you?

Our representation in the media has always been in the hands of someone else. We owe it to the past, the future, and ourselves to take it back. Growing up in the 90s, most of the shows and movies that featured Indigenous people were very one-dimensional. At the time I was very self-conscious about the way I looked and the inability to fit in. My great-grandfather was a victim of the “Kill the Indian, save the man” era, and from the age of 9 on he wasn’t able to be proud of his culture and this trauma continued long after him. I dealt with plenty of “You don’t look like an Indian” and this was only reinforced by the lack of people that looked like me in stories about people like us. It’s important to show people we are still here. It’s very important to me to be able to be proud of our people and our culture in ways that my great granddad couldn’t be.


What is your dream project?

The movie adaptation of the graphic novel “Indeh” and anything with Sterlin Harjo.


What advice would you give to young people wanting to pursue a career in the film industry?

You have to love and trust the process. Start now, if you haven’t already! Absorb all the information you can—go to any workshops and classes, go network with fellow filmmakers. Trust me, someone around you wants to make a movie. Go make one—doesn’t matter if it’s good! You can’t be afraid of failure… whatever you do, don’t quit… you’re not entitles to your dream, you have to go out and earn it. No matter what you hear, you are unlimited, you are capable, and you are worthy of your dream.


What does the future of Indigenous film look like?

As a people, we are descendants of some of the world’s greatest storytellers. I know our future in film will be beautiful. It’s exactly the jolt that the industry needs at this time in its history.


Who will you thank in your first Oscar’s acceptance speech?

My guides—my ancestors, great grandfather, my grandma, my Ma, my babies, my people, Oklahoma, and all those who I’ve drawn strength from.


Who/What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

My grandmother took me to see Jurassic Park in ’92 and I quickly became obsessed with the movie. She got me a book on the “behind the scenes” which went into great detail about how they made the movie—from screenplay to final edit. I think that’s what sparked my dream.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

I have a few coming up. One is my short film “Herbie” which I’ll be entering into this year’s DeadCenter Film Festival. It’s about a homeless man who befriends a plant and grows alongside it. The next personal film I’m working on is “The Killbournes” which we’re aiming to shoot around April of next year. I also entered a script into the Seriesfest Indigenous Storyteller’s Initiative screenwriting competition, sponsored by Cherokee Film and Green Pastures Studios. I’m constantly writing scripts and auditioning as much as I can so I can keep living the dream.

Be on the lookout for Mekko Toretto’s next projects—we have a feeling they’re going to be amazing!

Until then, you can follow him on Instagram to keep up!