Indigenous storytelling the big winner of inclusion to Oscars Academy - Briar Grace-Smith

By James Perry

Photo / Ebony Lamb (EL Studios)

Briar Grace-Smith (ONZM) says Māori, and indigenous, stories will be heard by a bigger, global storytelling audience with her admission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Ngāpuhi and Ngātiwai playwright and screenwriter, who is preparing to film her latest movie joins fellow wāhine Māori Keisha Castle-Hughes (Ngāti Porou), Ainsley Gardiner (Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao) and Chelsea Winstanley (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi), and male counterparts Taika Waititi (Te Whānau a Apanui) and Cliff Curtis (Te Arawa) in the Academy. 

She is yet to have a proper induction into the academy that delivers the Oscars awards, but she understands one of the tasks for members of the Academy is to watch the movies and decide what films go forward in the nomination process.

"That's kind of huge because it gets reflected back at us [that there] will be more diverse images and stories about ourselves and our community.

"The stories we have had in the past aren't often always inclusive of indigenous and diverse communities, and those are many communities. So what will happen now is our people will have something very real to aspire to. 

"We'll look at the films that have been put out into the world and we will be able to say genuinely, we can do that too!"

Grace-Smith is one of six high-profile indigenous nominees to be invited into the fold in 2022, the others being Chad Burris (Chickasaw Nation), Amanda Kernell (Sámi), Blackhorse Lowe (Diné), Anne Lajla Utsi (Sámi) and Michael Greyeyes (Muskeg Lake First Nation Cree).