Native American Media Alliance Apprenticeship Program Unveils Inaugural Cohort Participants

The Native American Media Alliance announced the selections for the inaugural cohort of the Native Media Apprenticeship Program In Collaboration with the California Workforce Development Board, High Road Training Partnership and the Bric Foundation. This is a multi-month program that provides career and creative development for indigenous opportunity youth.

This program supports California-based Native American youth who aim to persue careers in media. This initiative provides mentorship and guidance from creative executives, working animation artists and television showrunners. The objective is to develop skills for careers in animation production and producing for television. This course prepares and explores placement for participants in these fields.

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The goal is to provide new opportunities in education, training, and employment within the entertainment industry. Participating Native and Indigenous youth will focus on the technical aspects and practical knowledge needed for careers in animation and producing for television. This will involve the study of behind the scene skills that include directing, writing, producing and other related items pertinent to locating employment within the industry. Additional support includes mentorship, career guidance, educational workshops, networking opportunities, and studio field trips.

The program aims to create a more inclusive arts, media & entertainment industry by helping underserved Native American & Indigenous youth be involved. It focuses on providing them with opportunities and resources they might not otherwise have access.

“This program is another groundbreaking initiative that bridges the incredible divide between the Native American community and the entertainment industry.” Announced Ian Skorodin, Director of Strategy for the Native American Media Alliance. “We can now provide a new indigenous demographic real opportunities to succeed!”

The deadline to apply for the next apprenticeship cohort is May 15th, 2024. For applications and information visit

Participant bios:

Samara Lopez-Jones (she/her) is Choctaw from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and grew up in the Bay Area. She moved to Los Angeles in 2021 where she received her Bachelor’s in Film, TV, & Media Studies at Cal State LA. Samara has directed films that highlight her interests in serving Indigenous communities, assessing community needs, and building community. Some of her work has premiered at Cal State LA’s Golden Eagle Film Festival and 2023 LA Skins Fest. Her role as a filmmaker, Samara’s mission is to push the boundaries and create a platform for Indigenous and underserved communities to be represented with accuracy and authenticity.

As a person of a mixed ethnicities, (Choctaw, Black, Chicana) Samara acknowledges that her ancestor’s language, teachings, land, and even citizenship had been stripped away through colonization as an act of symbolic annihilation. As a result, she has dedicated much of her time to decolonizing and indigenizing health, wellness, education, media and arts. Today, Samara continues to focus on storytelling and addressing community needs. This commitment shines through in her position as the Multimedia Communications Assistant at United American Indian Involvement (UAII). Collaborating closely with UAII’s leadership, personnel, community stakeholders, and clientele, she endeavors to articulate UAII’s heritage and influence spanning five decades.

Sloane Primiano (Choctaw) grew up in Los Angeles, California, and attended high school at Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts. While there, she won Best Animated Short at the High Schools 2023 Grand Arts Film Festival. Her stop-motion short  film, Kachinas in Space, premiered at the 2023 LA Skins Fest – A Native American Film Festival. She is a freshman at Rhode Island School of Design, where she plans to earn a BFA in Film and Animation.

Tristin Calderon has loved acting and singing for most of his life, performing in both school and community theatre productions. He enjoys being on a stage and has been performing for community theatre for several years, where his first show was The Descendants. His list of performances include High School Musical, Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince/The Wolf), and Anastasia (Soldier/Ensemble). Tristin also enjoys working backstage, and he has done tech for school productions. He was head mic manager for Clue and worked on sets for Princess and the Mattress. He also works extensively in animation producing two animated shorts.

Tahnabah is a Navajo, Lakota, and Dakota performer who grew up in traditions of the Navajo beauty way of life and blessing way ceremonies as well as the Lakota Sundance and powwows. Tahnabah is a dancer, model, and aspiring actress. The dance styles she performs consist of ballet, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, color guard, fancy shawl, jingle dress, Eagle, hoop dance, and the Navajo basket dance.

She has been in the dance industry for several years performing for numerous dance shows/competitions, fashion shows, Women of the Navajo Calendar, Knott’s Scary Farm the 50th year, and Netflix’s upcoming film ‘Rezball’. Tahnabah combines career passion, and cultural stories, together in performing arts contemporary storytelling dance & theatre. She performs at cultural events and schools with family and friends. She strives to still be involved more with acting, television production and screenwriting. She is also growing a jewelry crafts, fashion designing, makeup, and hairstyling business. She loves to make connections with others and try new things to have fun in life.

Xavier Rain Tree, is a videographer and photographer whose passion for storytelling has led to the creation of a remarkable documentary, earning recognition and an award from the city of Fresno. Currently attending Clovis West High School and the Center of Advanced Research and Technology, Xavier is dedicated to their craft and exploring new avenues of creativity. Alongside their artistic pursuits, Xavier is also a great entrepreneur, having founded a successful small business specializing in sunglasses.

Xavier is a filmmaker with a profound passion for documentary storytelling, particularly focusing on Native American topics and issues within his community. With extensive filming experience, Xavier has dedicated their craft to shedding light on the rich cultural heritage and pressing concerns faced by indigenous peoples. Collaborating closely with elders, they have played a pivotal role in language preservation efforts, creating impactful films that serve as valuable resources for learning and preservation. Through his work, Xavier not only captures the essence of indigenous cultures but also advocates for their recognition and empowerment on a broader scale.

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