Working in film, television and fashion for over a decade, Michaella Shannon’s mission is to change how Indigenous Women are portrayed in the media.
I have learned that the key to success is transparency and if I am being honest, I am having a really difficult time writing just one vulnerable and authentic story in 365 words about myself.
As an Indigenous woman, when I am called to these spaces, I feel like there is pressure and responsibility to say so much.
I have been walking in both worlds my entire life. Sometimes I am too “white” for my Indigenous community and sometimes I am too “native” for my non-Indigenous community. I see, feel and understand both sides of the “spectrum.”
On the surface, you will see a TV host and personality, a model, an actress, a writer, a facilitator, a student, and a mental health support worker. But if you were to take all of that away, you would see a Nehiyaw (Plains Cree), Lakota, and Irish woman who has taken it upon herself to overcome bullying, racism, discrimination, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, oppression, and trauma.
Most people see “success,” but those titles are just words from a colonial framework. And regardless of these successes, I am 3.5 times more likely to go missing or to be murdered for being an Indigenous woman. At twenty-five years old, I have already experienced two attempted kidnappings.
As I try to make it in these mainstream industries of the dominant society, I have taken it upon myself to break cycles, break stigmas, and break barriers. Indigenous people may carry intergenerational trauma, but we also carry intergenerational knowledge.
I was asked to share something vulnerable, but to be honest, I am trying to change the way Indigenous women are portrayed in the media. We are often portrayed as weak, vulnerable individuals due to the media around MMIW and it has been my goal to flip that narrative.
I’ve turned many negatives into positives. I walk in both worlds, so I must do the work in both worlds. I’m doing the work in my community to help others overcome the oppression, racism, and intergenerational trauma that still exists today. And I am fighting to make it in these mainstream spaces, so that young Indigenous girls and boys feel like they matter, belong, and are valued.
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