Peshawn Bread (Comanche/Kiowa/Cherokee) is a filmmaker from New Mexico (or Atlanta, depending on the project they’re working on!). Their film, The Daily Life of Mistress Red, which Peshawn wrote and directed, is currently on the festival tour, beginning last month with the ATL Shorts Fest. Peshawn uses inspiration from their own experiences a Native queer person, as well as the beauty they find with their camera in their daily life to authentically tell their characters’ stories. For example, the lead character in their short mockumentary, Mistress Red, is a Native fashion boutique owner by day and a dominatrix for hire who takes the effects of racism, sexism and colonization into her own hands. By a quick glance at their Instagram account, one can see the parallels Peshawn draws between themselves— a lover of fashion, photography, and empowering fellow Natives—and the main character. The result? An exciting message of empowerment that addresses issues within the circle of Indigenous women with humor. CNFO was able to talk to Peshawn about their burgeoning film career and the importance of Indigenous representation in media.
Who/what inspired you to become involved in film?
I was excited about film as a medium the first time I saw the music video for “Rock with you” by Michael Jackson. I remember I had all the music videos on a DVD and I looooooved everything about that one video. From the location, green laser lights, MJ’s glittery costume and to the atmosphere of the music video. That was a starting point as well as secretly watching all the romantic comedies my mom would watch after she put my siblings and I to bed. I’d sneak out just to see what was happening in the story. What inspires me today is intertwining the wonder and wanting to have someone see themselves on screen in a story they could relate to.
What are your favorite movies?
My favorite movies would have to be between Phantom Thread and Zoolander. I love the cinematography and the elegance of Phantom Thread but I also love the goofiness and the humor of Zoolander. Both are heavily stylized in fashion and before film, I’ve always loved fashion! I also love stories that have very defined characters and characters who are completely different from one another.
Why is Native representation in film and television important to you?
Native representation in film is important because it allows us to dispel past stereotypes and create narratives that feel true and genuine for us. Native representation in film can go a long way from having a Native character in the background, to a story centered on a Native character, I believe there’s power in seeing us reclaim a space that’s always been white dominated and hurtful to us. As a Native queer person in the industry, I believe in portraying more of our LGBTQ+/2 spirit community and showing the beauty of it as well!
How did you hear about the Cherokee Nation Film Office?
Through Jennifer Loren! We had met back at Sundance Film Festival 2020 during the Indigenous filmmaker’s breakfast when I was introducing my project The Daily Life of Mistress Red! Jennifer had introduced herself and talked about the opportunities the office could provide, and as a person with Cherokee heritage, I was proud! I’ve also kept up with the film office through OsiyoTV and through Instagram!
What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
The most exciting moment of my career so far has been working on the Disney+ production I’m on as we speak! It’s wonderful to bring native stories, culture and art to bigger screens.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
I can’t tell you what I’m currently working on, but I’m also currently rewriting a TV series which is about Indigenous vampires. It’s a drama that takes place in Oklahoma and brushes up on Native history through every character! Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to young people wanting to pursue a career in the film industry?
I would say to love every story you tell and be proud of it. There’s space for every story and just because one person says “no” it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Be strong, take care of yourself and your spirit! Be weird, be funny, be dramatic, just be you and keep moving forward!
Who will you thank when you win your first Oscar?
When I win my first Oscar, I’ll probably sob for a solid minute and thank every native person I’ve ever sat down and talked to. The stories we tell each other last for a lifetime, whether it’s a traditional story or a funny story, they are narratives that will be with us long after we’re gone. Sometimes I find myself laughing at stories my grandpa told me about growing up with my Comanche relatives.
You can find Peshawn Bread and their love of all things fashion and film on Instagram: @the.pbread, and don’t forget to look for The Daily Life of Mistress Red at a film festival near you!