December 17, 1947
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Education||Tulsa Community College|
(m. 1974; div. 1982)
Maura Dhu Studi
|Relatives||Jack Albertson (father-in-law)|
Wesley Studi (Cherokee: ᏪᏌ ᏍᏚᏗ; born December 17, 1947) is a Cherokee American actor and film producer who has won critical acclaim and awards, particularly for his portrayal of Native Americans in film. He has appeared in Academy Award-winning films, such as Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and in the Academy Award-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and The New World (2005). He is also known for portraying Sagat in Street Fighter (1994). Other films he has appeared in are Hostiles, Heat, Mystery Men, Avatar, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and the television series Penny Dreadful. In 2019, he received an Academy Honorary Award, becoming the first Native American and the second Indigenous person from North America to be honored by the Academy (the first was Buffy Sainte-Marie).[a] In 2020, The New York Times ranked him #19 in its list of the 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century.
Early life and education
Studi was born in a Cherokee family in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, a rural area in Cherokee County named after his mother's family. He is the son of Maggie Studie, a housekeeper, and Andy Studie, a ranch hand. Until he attended elementary school, he spoke only Cherokee at home. He attended Chilocco Indian Agricultural School for high school and graduated in 1964; his vocational major was in dry cleaning.
At the age of 17, Studi enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard and had his basic combat training and advanced individual training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Studi volunteered for active service and went to Vietnam with A Company of the 3rd Battalion 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, where he served for 12 months.
After his discharge, Studi became politically active in American Indian activism. He participated in the Wounded Knee Incident at Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973. Studi stated in an interview that he first began acting while attending Tulsa Community College, after returning from his service in Vietnam. He had a role in the play The Royal Hunt of the Sun for the American Indian Theater Company.
Studi appeared in his first film, The Trial of Standing Bear, in 1988. He is known for his roles as ruthless Native American warriors, such as a Pawnee in Dances with Wolves (1990), and the Huron Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).
A year later, he was cast with Eric Schweig for TNT's film The Broken Chain, about the historic Iroquois League that was based in the area of central and western present-day New York state. It was shot in Virginia. This was part of a group of productions shown over 14 months on TNT as its "Native American initiative", including three television movies and several documentaries. A six-hour history series was told from a Native American perspective. In 1993 Studi had the lead in Geronimo: An American Legend. He played the superhero Sphinx in the 1999 comedy film Mystery Men.
In 2002, Studi brought to life the character of Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, for a series of PBS movies based on Tony Hillerman's novels set in the Southwest among the Navajo and Hopi. It was produced by Robert Redford.
In 2009, Studi appeared as Major Ridge, a leader of the Cherokee before the Native American removal to Indian Territory, in Trail of Tears. This was the third of five episodes in the PBS series We Shall Remain, portraying critical episodes in Native American history after European encounter, part of the public television's acclaimed series American Experience, where Studi spoke only in native Cherokee.
Also in 2009, Studi appeared in James Cameron's Avatar. He played Eytukan, the chieftain of a Na'vi tribe, but did not have any dialogue in English. Studi played Cheyenne chief Yellow Hawk in a starring role in the 2017 film Hostiles.
At the 90th Academy Awards, Studi introduced a tribute to military movies, and gave part of his speech in the Cherokee language, of which he is a fluent speaker. Studi is the second Native American actor to present at the Academy Awards. Will Rogers hosted in 1934.
In 2019, he received an Academy Honorary Award, becoming the second Indigenous person to be honored, and the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar specifically for acting. The first Indigenous person from North America to win an Oscar, was Buffy Sainte-Marie, a First Nations/Native American living in Canada, in 1983, for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards.
After his studies, Studi taught the Cherokee language and syllabary and helped establish a Cherokee-language newspaper. He went into ranching. After his first marriage ended in divorce, Studi left ranching and started to study acting; a friend had recommended it as a place to meet women. Studi married Maura Dhu, and they moved their family to a farm near Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the early 1990s. Maura is the only child of Emmy- and Oscar-winning actor Jack Albertson. Wes and Maura Dhu Studi have a son, Kholan. Studi has a daughter, Leah, and a son, Daniel, from his previous marriage. Studi and his wife perform in the band, Firecat of Discord. Studi serves as honorary chair of the national endowment campaign of the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe.
On July 26, 2013 Studi, 66, was arrested around 1 am while at a stop sign in Santa Fe. According to police, Studi became loudly abusive and vulgar toward Santa Fe police officers, who arrested him on a charge of aggravated DWI. On July 29, Studi apologized for his actions and behavior, “While I cannot comment on the ongoing legal situation,” he said, “I want to apologize to law enforcement officers for my behavior that evening. Though it wasn’t apparent, I have the highest respect for law enforcement. Despite my behavior, the officers remained very professional, and I deeply respect and appreciate that.”
- 1994: Won a Western Heritage Award (shared with cast and crew) for Geronimo: An American Legend (1993).
- 1998: The Dreamspeakers Film and Festival honored Studi with its Career Achievement Award.
- 2000: Motion Picture and Television Fund's Golden Boot Award.
- 2000: Artist of the Decade at the First Americans in the Arts Awards.
- 2013: Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers - Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma City, OK
- 2019: Academy Honorary Award.
|1988||The Trial of Standing Bear||Long Runner||Nebraska ETV|
|1990||Dances with Wolves||Toughest Pawnee|
|The Flash||Roller||Episode: "Sins of the Father"|
|1991||The Doors||Indian in Desert|
|1992||The Last of the Mohicans||Magua|
|1993||Geronimo: An American Legend||Geronimo|
|The Broken Chain||Seth||TV movie|
|The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards||Himself/Presenter|
|1995||Lone Justice 2||One Horse|
|Heat||Detective Sammy Casals|
|Streets of Laredo||(Famous Shoes) Indian friend of Pea Eye||TV|
|500 Nations||Voice||TV miniseries|
|The Way West||Voice||TV movie documentary|
|1996||The Killing Jar||Cameron|
|1997||Crazy Horse||Red Cloud||TV|
|Adventures from the Book of Virtues||Scarface||Episode: "Perseverance"|
|Promised Land||Jesse Rainbird||Episode: "Outrage"|
|Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western||Himself||TV movie documentary|
|The Horse Whisperer||Parks guard|
|1999||Mystery Men||The Sphinx|
|2001||Ice Planet||Commander Trager|
|Christmas in the Clouds||Bingo Caller|
|Road to Redemption||Frank Lightfoot|
|The Directors||Himself||Episode: "The Films of Michael Mann"|
|Skinwalkers||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|2003||Edge of America||Cuch|
|The Ugly One||Father Mike|
|Coyote Waits||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|The Lone Ranger||Kulakinah||TV movie|
|2004||Echoes from Juniper Canyon||Grandpa||Voice|
|A Thief of Time||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|2005||Into the West||Black Kettle|
|Miracle at Sage Creek||Chief Thomas|
|The Making of 'Miracle at Sage Creek'||Himself/Chief Thomas|
|The New World||Opechancanough|
|The Making of the New World||Himself/Opechancanough||Video documentary|
|The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy||Himself/Presenter|
|Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee||Wovoka|
|2008||Comanche Moon||Buffalo Hump||TV|
|Older Than America||Richard Two Rivers|
|Trail of Tears||Major Ridge|
|Kings||General Linus Abner|
|The Only Good Indian||Sam Franklin (main character)||Executive producer|
|2010||The Mentalist||Joseph Silverwing||Episode: "Aingavite Baa"|
|The Making of 'Last of the Mohicans'||Himself||Video documentary|
|2011||Hell on Wheels||Chief Many Horses||TV|
|Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native American||Himself/Toughest Pawnee||TV movie documentary|
|Call of the Wild||Hatcher|
|Road to Paloma||Numay|
|2014||A Million Ways to Die in the West||Cochise|
|Planes: Fire & Rescue||Windlifter||Voice|
|2015||The Red Road||Chief Levi Gall|
|The Condemned 2||Cyrus Merrick|
|2017||Hostiles||Chief Yellow Hawk|
|2019||Badland (2019 film)||Harlen Red|
|2019||A Dog's Way Home||Captain Mica|
|2020||Soul||Counselor Jerry C||Voice|
|2021||Nothing, Arizona||Chuck Begay|
- With this honorary Oscar, Wes Studi became the second Indigenous person from North America to receive an award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Buffy Sainte-Marie, a First Nations/Native American living in Canada was the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar, in 1983, when she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards.
- Galbraith, Jane (December 14, 1993). "Q&a with Wes Studi: 'I Came Into the Business at the Right Time'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
- Kevin Carter (December 22, 1993). "Actor Champions Indian Heritage". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- Hammond, Pete (June 3, 2019). "Oscars: Governors Awards To Geena Davis, David Lynch, Wes Studi, Lina Wertmuller".
- ""An Officer and a Gentleman" (NY)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
Academy Award winner: Music – Original Song (“Up Where We Belong,” Music by Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie; Lyric by Will Jennings)
- Dargis, Manohla; Scott, A.O. (November 25, 2020). "The 25 greatest actors of the 21st century (so far)". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
- "Wes Studi", Native Networks, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
- Lewis Beale (December 16, 1993). "Wes ('Geronimo') Studi Wary Of Political Correctness". New York Daily News. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- The Chilocco Annual, 1964, National Archives and Records Administration
- "Wes Studi: 'A True Warrior' │ U.S.Veterans Magazine". US Veterans and Military Magazine | A US Veterans News Resource. August 16, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Currey, R. (March 14, 2015). "Wes Studi: at the edge of courage". VVA Veteran. Vietnam Veterans of America. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Eaton, Kristin and Anna Holton Dean. "The Road to Fame: Wes Studi." Tulsa People. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- Kevin L. Carter (December 19, 1993). "Yelling Geronimo! Wes Studi's film and TV roles allow him to walk in his ancestors' shoes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- National Cowboy Museum official site. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
- We Shall Remain, 5-part series, American Experience, PBS.
- Schilling, Vincent (January 18, 2018). "Native Actor Wes Studi Talks About His Role as Chief Yellowhawk in 'Hostiles': Wes Studi stars along with such actors as Christian Bale and Adam Beach in 'Hostiles' directed by Scott Cooper. The film premieres in select theaters January 19 and nationwide January 26". Retrieved February 3, 2018.
- "Oscars recognize military movies in Wes Studi-led tribute". EW.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- Hilleary, Cecily. "Native Americans Delight as Veteran Actor Speaks Cherokee at Oscars". VOA. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- Associated Press (February 28, 2017). "Native American actor Wes Studi relishes rare Oscar invite". Page Six. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
- Saunders, Emma (June 4, 2019). "Oscar first for Native American actor" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Wes Studi". IMDb.
- NY Labor 4 Bernie [@NYLabor4Bernie] (November 5, 2016). "Yuge crowd of NYers ready to march for #NoDAPL" (Tweet). Retweeted by Wes Studi [WesleyStudi] – via Twitter.
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