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The Voice of Disney’s Pocahontas Wants to See More Native Americans in Comedy

Irene Bedard, the voice of Disney’s Pocahontas, said she wants to see more Native Americans in the comedy world because traditional Native American Hollywood casting relies on narrow stereotypes.

“One thing I think that hasn’t been shown very much is how funny we are,” Bedard told Bold during an interview on Bold Life. “In order to survive, we had to be funny. Actually humor is one of the Inupiat values, which is my tribe.”

Bedard pointed to the lack of Native Americans in media, and referenced how she spoke at a Harvard University conference about a University of Southern California report, “Inclusion or Invisibility? Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment,” showing Native American representation was so low, Native Americans were counted in the category of “other.” A 2018 UCLA study reports Native Americans have held less than 1 percent of roles in films and TV shows in recent years. This comes even as U.S. Census Bureau data show 1.3 percent of Americans are Native American, or an estimated 4.2 million people, based on July 2017 population estimates.  

Bedard said with such low representation, Native Americans don’t get a chance to see their lives onscreen, let alone onscreen in a positive light.

“We just need a little more of a chance to see our lives…in a [comedy] or a romantic comedy,” she said.  

Bedard is reprising the voice of Pocahontas this year for a role in the new “Wreck It Ralph” movie, which brings together the original Disney princesses — and new ones, too — to make self-aware jokes about Disney and feminism. 

Bedard spoke about playing Pocahontas in 1995 and said the movie helped introduce a new generation to Native American culture. Will the new “Wreck It Ralph” movie be another chance to change Native American representation in media for the better? Audiences will have to wait and see until the movie’s November 21 release date. 

Photo Credit: Disney, Irene Bedard

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