How the actors of ‘Reservation Dogs’ find themselves in their characters

A black-and-white photo of four people standing on a white background surrounded by leafy plants.
A black-and-white photo of four people standing on a white background surrounded by leafy plants.

Devery Jacobs, left, Paulina Alexis, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai and Lane Factor from “Reservation Dogs.” Given an array of seating options, the four young stars of “ Reservation Dogs ” pile onto a couch. They look sharp, dolled up for a photo session, but that doesn’t stem their good-natured ribbing. But they settle down as “big sister” Devery Jacobs — at 28 by far the eldest of the four — explains what the series means to them.

“Not only were the character breakdowns reflective of Muscogee Creek kids,” she says of the Oklahoma-based Native American tribe, “but also us being Indigenous kids, being able to infuse all our own cultures and backgrounds, coming from our own specific nations and tribes and communities. That it’s taken so long to see geeky Native kids on screen … that was me growing up. It’s really special.”

The series, created by showrunner Sterlin Harjo , a member of the Seminole Nation with Muscogee ancestry, and Oscar winner Taika Waititi , who is Maori on his father’s side, follows four Indigenous Oklahoma teens we meet stealing a delivery truck to sell off. The limits of their larceny are small-time, their purpose much bigger. They’re working toward fleeing the reservation to the Promised Land: California.

Jacobs plays Elora, the most reasonable of the group; D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai plays Bear, who thinks he’s the leader and has mystic, though mediocre, visions ; Lane Factor plays go-with-the-flow guy Cheese; Paulina Alexis is plainspoken tomboy Willie Jack (whom the show’s creators intended to […]

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