Devery Jacobs interview: ‘Reservation Dogs’
“I love how we view our elders,” admits Devery Jacobs about “Reservation Dogs” in our recent webchat. She continues, “Teen shows I never understood growing up because the way they would talk about their grandparents or moms. Because in our communities, it’s a fundamental core to respect our elders. Yeah we can laugh at them. Yeah there can be quirky elders. But, they are still the fundamental fabric of what’s going on.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The FX comedy is created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi. It follows the ‘Rez Dogs’ — a gang of four indigenous teenagers from a small reservation community in Oklahoma. They are all trying to make sense of life after after the death of their group member Daniel. Jacobs plays the leader of the group, Elora. However in the second season Elora leaves the reservation to fulfill Daniel’s dream of living in California. The actress says, “because this show is an ensemble cast it lends to finding different quiet moments with each of the characters. It gives each of the actors a chance to deepen their characters.”
For season two, Jacobs joined the writers room. She explains, “Not only is it the only indigenous writers room in the industry, but also it’s just a great room to be in. I’m grateful to be one of the indigenous storytellers in this industry.”
Harjo and Jacobs wrote the fourth episode of the season called ‘Mabel.’ In the episode, Elora has returned to the reservation so she can gather in community around her dying grandmother. The writer reveals that “on film and tv, I don’t know if I ever saw the way that my community grieves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the hands-on closeness around death as there was in indigenous communities. For me, growing up on Kahnawake, my res just outside Montreal, my mom is the community’s florist. I’ve been around death and experienced death in my family. They are some of the warmest celebrations when you are surrounded by community.”
The second season also offers a perspective on how the ‘Rez Dogs’ are processing the death of Daniel and trying to find closure for their pain. Jacobs reflects, “it’s really infrequent that we see characters moving through grief and what happens beyond that. Not that it ever goes away. It leaves so much room for where we are exploring in season three, which we’re filming right now.” She also offers that “one of the reasons I love comedy is it allows us to deal with difficult conversations in a way that’s not too burdensome.”