May 10, 2010 — “I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have been part of such a beautiful project,” said Elijah Kahara, an up-and-coming actor and participant in Friday’s successful Screen Actors Guild’s Diversity Acting Workshop at Institute of American Indian Arts in Sante Fe, N.M. “I mean the work that SAG, Milagro and the New Mexico Film Office have done, it’s just phenomenal.”
The invitation-only program was part of Milagro at Los Luceros, a new initiative formed by Robert Redford and the state of New Mexico to create and expand training programs in film, arts, and the environment, concentrating on Hispanic, Native American, African American and other underrepresented voices in New Mexico.
Approximately 100 new actors, seasoned actors and industry professionals participated in the Business of Acting and Camera Technique Workshop, while a handful of new actors, including Kahara, were able to take part in the Cold Reading Workshop with high-profile SAG members.
The program was presented by Screen Actors Guild President’s National Task Force for American Indians, with task force members Ed Harris, Anne Sward Hansen and Kalani Queypo among the experts in attendance.
"I am very pleased with this joint effort among Screen Actors Guild, Robert Redford Enterprises, the New Mexico Film Office and the state of New Mexico to provide new actors from underrepresented communities with the skills, tools and opportunities to be competitive and successful in the television and film industry,” said Rebecca Yee, national director of SAG Affirmative Action and Diversity.
“This program is an example of the benefits of affirmative action. No quotas or mandatory hiring— just doing what we can to level the playing field that is clearly still very unequal."
The positive feedback from the program was overwhelming, but workshop participant Kahara perhaps said it best: “I’m excited. I’m ready to get cast.”
Check out Channel 7 KOAT's coverage of the program here.