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How Reservation Dogs' Devery Jacobs is "Living Truthfully" as Queer & Indigenous

Reservation Dogs' Devery Jacobs revealed how she's fighting for the representation she didn't have growing up during E!'s "Ones to Watch" series celebrating Indigenous heritage.

By Allison Crist Nov 08, 2021 10:29 PMTags
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Paving the way for future generations. 

Devery Jacobs never saw herself on TV or in movies while she was growing up. Now, the actress is working toward a world where other kids—especially those that are queer and Indigenous like her—don't have to experience the same lack of representation. 

"For me, choosing to be open about my life and who I am stems from the pride in that but also as a means to show girls on the rez who are growing up," Jacobs exclusively told E! News on Nov. 8 in honor of our "Ones to Watch" series celebrating Indigenous heritage.

"It's my hope that being open about who I am and living truthfully as myself, that it can encourage other queer Indigenous kids on the rez, off the rez, wherever they've grown up, to be their whole selves as well," added Jacobs, who was born and raised in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory.

Now an actress, Jacobs' latest project has been her most fulfilling: Hulu's Reservation Dogs

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Reservation Dogs follows four Indigenous kids living in rural Oklahoma who are mourning the loss of the fifth member of their group and their best friend Daniel, who died one year earlier. 

"But it's first and foremost a comedy," Jacobs noted, acknowledging that while Reservation Dogs is certainly "furthering the conversation about inclusivity and representation around Indigenous people," the cast and showrunners aren't actively "trying to do that in the series."

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Instead, Reservation Dogs offers a look at "full-fledged humans who make mistakes—and, like, hang out eating chips watching bad movies."

Jacobs continued, "We're people who are alive and thriving and having the experiences that we are today, and it's all grounded through the experience of Sterlin Harjo who is one of the co-creators and the show runner of the series."

A Seminole and Muscogee Creek filmmaker, Harjo leads the first TV series to ever feature an all-Indigenous team of writers, directors and series regulars. 

"I had never looked around on set before and had seen so many Indigenous folks surrounding me," Jacobs told E! News, recalling her experience shooting season one of Reservation Dogs. "Everybody has had similar experiences one way another. Being able to work in a space like that changed everything and I think that's what makes the show resonate so much."

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With a team of creatives well equipped to create a show about serious issues that affect the Indigenous community, Reservation Dogs often deals with heavy topics such as suicide. 

"Dealing with the issue of suicide—which has plagued nearly every Indigenous family across North America—it was a project where I looked around and it felt like a moment for us to collectively heal, Jacobs explained. "This wasn't just a story line that we were exploring. We weren't trying to touch on issues or brush past them but it's real to all of us; to everybody who has been a part of Reservation Dogs whether in front or behind the camera, [they have] been affected by suicide in some way in each of their communities."

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Seeing audiences react to the particular aspect as well as the overall show has been "rewarding and empowering," as Jacobs put it.

And luckily, Reservations Dogs has already been renewed for a second season, where she'll get the opportunity to not only star in the series, but also work in the writer's room. 

"I hope this is just the beginning," Jacobs added, looking to the future. "I want to see so many different stories...Even though you might have an Indigenous creator, it doesn't mean that their work will speak for all Indigenous people. And so for people to look at Reservation Dogs and to expect that of us, is a lot of responsibility that I think we're all willing to carry but are hoping to divvy up and to share this opportunity with many people."

Added the actress, "It's my hope in 10 to 20 years I can look around and see a whole industry of Indigenous creatives out there and killing it."

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