Reservation Dogs star Devery Jacobs explores new horizons on camera – and now behind it

She’s been playing for nearly 15 years, but with the debut last year of the critically acclaimed Reservation dogs, Devery Jacobs breaks new ground in television as part of FX’s comedy cast. Now she’s trying to do the same behind the scenes on this show.

“I knew for the second season I wanted to be involved as a creative behind the camera to some degree,” Jacobs said. With that goal in mind, she gathered materials to make her case to write about Season 2, but making her case for the gig proved futile. “[Co-creator/showrunner Sterlin Harjo] actually approached me and said, ‘Did you want to be in the writers room this season?'” she shared.

This room turned out to be a great learning opportunity for the actor, who co-wrote Episode 4 with Harjo. “[It] was also a space where I felt so comfortable presenting my ideas,” shares Jacobs. Although Jacobs has written and directed shorts in the past, this was his first time in a TV show writers room, where co-executive producer Tazbah Chavez strove to give all writers , regardless of their level of experience, a comprehensive education.

Devery Jacobs <a class=Reservation Dogs as Elora Danan” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/–~B/aD0xMzMzO3c9MjAwMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/″/>

Devery Jacobs Reservation Dogs as Elora Danan

Shane Brown/FX Devery Jones on ‘Reservation Dogs’

For Jacob, Reservation dogs is the culmination of the hard work of many Indigenous creators. When she began actively pursuing a storytelling career in 2012, the roles that existed for Indigenous women were mostly Pocahontas-type roles. “I remember having to tell my agents if I ever had to do a sex scene, I don’t want it to be buckskin,” she says. Several trailblazers, many of whom Jacobs works with now, had to carve out their niche in the entertainment industry and a path for stories like Reservation dogs to exist. Now audiences can see all the things the multi-hyphen knows to be cool about Indigenous people, things that are not just seen but celebrated. “It’s amazing that our show is so well received,” she says. “There’s also a lot of pressure and expectation on our show, and I think that’s one of the hard things about being one of the first.”

On the show, Jacobs plays Elora, a big sister figure in the show’s central quartet — and she can relate, she says, to growing up almost exclusively with women. (She teases that Season 2 will focus more on aunts compared to Season 1, which was about uncles.) This sense of community extends to the rest of the set; she recalls meeting Paulina Alexis, who plays Willie Jack, during the final stages of the auditions, where Alexis shared that she wanted to become an actress after seeing Jacobs in the 2013 film Rhymes for young ghouls. “I was so moved by this, and the fact that we can now work so closely together and inspire young, budding filmmakers, actors and creatives is insane. It’s an honor and a responsibility that I don’t take on the light,” she said.

Growing up, mainstream storytelling tells people what’s cool, and those stories have long been about white, straight, and cisgender people. New generations now see so many different protagonists, including Jacobs and Alexis. “I know it would have made me feel a lot more empowered as an Indigenous kid growing up if I had a show like this,” she shares.

Jacobs found inspiration watching storytellers refuse to back down. “From five years ago to now, being an existing Indigenous person in this industry feels dramatically different,” says Jacobs. She heard people like filmmakers Sydney Freeland and Harjo say they were told Indigenous stories don’t sell. “Now people in the industry are finally realizing that we are the original storytellers of the nation,” says Jacobs, “and what they thought they knew about Indigenous people is so far from the truth. We have so many culture and beauty in our communities that we expect to share.”

She hopes some of these stories also involve queer Indigenous characters. “I would love to see a two-spirited protagonist in a romantic comedy,” she cites as an example. Jacobs sees an inherent queerness in Reservation dogs that she noticed the LGBTQ community was taking over. “I think it’s because there are a lot of queer creators behind the project,” she says, referencing Freeland, writer Tommy Pico, costar Elva Guerra and herself. Still, there’s still a lot to do, and Jacobs is excited to see what stories remain to be told.

Reservation dogs

Reservation dogs

Shane Brown/FX Devery Jacobs and Paulina Alexis in the “Reservation Dogs” pilot.

She is also excited about the new opportunities available to her due to the success of Reservation dogs. The series set a new bar for the young designer, which wasn’t always possible for her before landing the role. “If it doesn’t compete [Reservation Dogs] in terms of creativity, team, story or character, then I don’t want to be part of it,” she says of future projects. While she’s excited to bring more stories about Indigenous people to light, she’s also curious about other genres. I seek to explore outside of myself in the acting roles I take,” she explains, “whereas when it comes to being a writer or creating my own projects, they certainly reflect much more my own experience.”

There are more on the way from Jacobs. The actor, who will also appear in the Marvel series Echo this year, has produced and will star in a film she has been working on for five years that is “more inspired by homosexuality.” She also has her sights set on a film which she hopes will be her first feature film as a writer and director. In the meantime, get ready for a new adventure with Elora, Bear, Cheese and Willie Jack when Reservation dogs returns for its second season. “We’re on the verge of an Indigenous storytelling movement in this medium that we’ve never seen before,” she says proudly.

Reservation dogs Season 2 premieres August 3 on FX.

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