June 02, 2022
Press Releases

Executive Producer Robert Redford and Stars of New AMC Series Dark Winds, Talk Indigenous Representation and 'Navajo Noir' in New Emmy Magazine

AMC's Dark Winds continues a wind of change through the industry with its extensive Indigenous cast and creative team delivering a taste of "Navajo noir." Executive producer Robert Redford and the show's stars and creators talk to emmy about the importance of representation and authenticity in the groundbreaking new series debuting June 12. The award-winning, official publication of the Television Academy hits newsstands June 3.

Based on a long-running series of bestsellers by late author Tony Hillerman, the crime drama Dark Winds is centered around Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon) and Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon) and is full of cultural and historical tensions, exploring complex clan relationships, beliefs and customs. But the show also has plenty of action. "It feels like we are in a great time now on television," says creator and executive producer Graham Roland, "where you can tell stories like this in really big productions, set in diverse worlds, in a really spectacular way."

For the cast, the new drama is a role reversal. Gordon tells emmy that the series is an opportunity to reclaim Indigenous culture; in the past, non-Indigenous actors played those roles. "They were Italian dudes playing us," Gordon says. "It's nice to take a look back and say, 'This wasn't right' and to take our images and our representation back." But there is a distinctive difference. "This was not cowboys and Indians," says McClarnon. "It was Indians and Indians this time."

In "Winds of Change," Robert Redford, an executive producer (along with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin), tells emmy that he first bought the rights to Hillerman's books in 1986. He had a vision for the story, but it took nearly 35 years to fully bring it to life for a global television audience. "It was important for the storytelling to honor the material, especially as it relates to the depiction of the Native American people and their culture," Redford says. "Authenticity is key, and I believe the team has done that while also creating a compelling series that is filled with mystery and suspense."

Executive producer Chris Eyre (who met Redford as a young filmmaker at the Sundance Institute Directors Lab in 1998) acknowledges that he took a lot of visual cues from classic Westerns. "Zahn is like Clint Eastwood, with his eyes looking out below the brim of his hat." What's different about this series is that the Indigenous people are both the stars and the heroes.

Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:

  • In "Back in the Game," emmy talks to Lee Jung-jae, star of Netflix's Squid Game—the most popular streaming series of all time—about worldwide fame. Lee tells emmy, "To be honest, not a lot has changed for me before and after Squid Game. The biggest thing is that I have a lot of new fans all over the world. Even 9-year-olds know who I am."
  • Saturday Night Live photographer Mary Ellen Mathews has the challenging job of capturing indelible images of the show's iconic cast and celebrity guests each week. In "Hot Shots," Matthews discusses the creative collaboration behind her images and shares her memories of photographing some of her most famous subjects, including Bradley Cooper, Will Ferrell, Emma Stone and Chadwick Boseman.
  • Through the extraordinary art of hair and makeup, Lily James and Sebastian Stan were physically transformed for Hulu's Pam & Tommy. In "What Lies Beneath," the actors talk about the extensive research, coaching and training required to capture the humanity beneath the celebrity in their portrayals of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

About emmy
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.

Download the press release here.

For issue/coverage contacts:
Carla Schalman

breakwhitelight for the Television Academy

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