Follow us
Mobile
Pin It

Jana Mashonee is no one's Pocahontas 

Singer blazes new — and funny — trail as actress

Jana Mashonee is fine with all of those "first" tags that others usually put after her name. She's credited as the first self-identifying Native American woman to graduate from Davidson College; top the Billboard dance charts; have a CD sold in Walmart. But she'd rather be recognized for her musical talents than any labels.

In mid-July, Mashonee's film debut as a lead actress — The Dinosaur Experiment, a B-movie starring Lorenzo Lamas about a modern-day Texas town overrun by dinosaurs — hit shelves of Walmart after having solid success via RedBox. It's the latest venture for the 34-year-old member of the Lumbee tribe who spends half of the year living in Charlotte. She's also written a book, performed at two presidential inaugurations and is currently wrapping up her fifth studio album — something she calls "more gritty" than the pop music she's released in the past — for a potential fall or early 2015 release.

Creative Loafing: You're involved in music and movies, you've written a book. Is music the priority for you?

Mashonee: It is. I started singing in Charlotte — I have a place here and in New York — and I have my roots here, but my band and management is there. I started here doing karaoke and had a band called Peace and Love back in the day — more than a decade ago. I sang at Carowinds. This has always been my home base. While I was in college, I got a record deal. After I graduated, I thought I'd give it a shot and see how it goes. Fifteen years later, I'm still doing it. It's been an awesome ride with Grammy nominations and inaugural balls — I've had amazing experiences. I'm blessed that I can do this and it's definitely my first passion. For my next album, I'm doing something completely different — more uptempo, edgy, quirky.

Is it tough to have labels put on you where you almost become a role model or spokesperson for Native Americans?

You have to take responsibility for your music and image. Unfortunately, because I'm Native, people think I'm the spokesperson for all things Native. I do feel that I have a responsibility to speak on behalf of myself as a Native person. It's more about breaking down stereotypes. I don't mind representing the Lumbee tribe because there are people who don't know about us. I want my art to be noticed first — and I happen to be Native.

That's one of the reasons you got involved with the movie — you didn't want a stereotypical role.

I always get offered roles in historical movies or TV projects where it's a Pocahontas role. I wanted to come out and do something that's not a typical Native role. I wanted to do a silly role where I can be a regular person. I didn't need to live in a teepee or speak with a slow affect. It's the ultimate B-movie and it's funny and stupid. Hopefully it can pave the way for some future acting opportunities.

  • Pin It

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Latest in Offstage Sessions

More by Jeff Hahne

Search Events

Recent Comments

www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2014 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation