Sunday is the day for Wes Studi.
After 30-plus years in the film industry and as a working Cherokee actor that has performed in such movies as Hostiles, Dances with Wolves and Heat, Studi, at 71 years young, will take the stage to receive an Oscar.
In a tweet this June, Studi wrote, "I am deeply honored and humbled. I finally get to say ‘I'd like to thank the Academy."
As previously reported in Indian Country Today, Studi will join directors David Lynch and Lina Wertmüller and actor Geena Davis in receiving recognition. Studi, Lynch, and Wertmüller will receive honorary Oscars and Davis will be awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at an awards event in Hollywood this Sunday.
According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy President John Bailey, the Governors Awards annually recognizes individuals “who have devoted themselves to a lifetime of artistic accomplishment and brought outstanding contributions to our industry, and beyond.”
In a press release by the Academy, they cited that Wes Studi was selected to receive an honorary Oscar for "portraying strong Native American characters with poignancy and authenticity."
Studi told Indian Country Today in a previous interview, “At first I thought I hadn't even really done anything recently that merited such an award. I was leaning more towards receiving an Oscar based upon a specific performance. However, I thought about it and I said, ‘Wait a minute, I do have a body of work that I think qualifies and I said, ‘okay.’”
“I felt appreciative, and I do realize that years ago the Academy had been showing efforts to increase diversity. That is a great thing to see.”
Studi has appeared in over thirty films in the course of his career. He was born and raised in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, Studi was in the National Guard and also served a tour of military service in Vietnam.
He began his acting career with the American Indian Theater Company and has appeared in such films as Powwow Highway (1989) The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), The New World (2005) and the second highest-grossing film of all time, Avatar (2009).
Studi also previously told Indian Country Today, “This is for my body of work. I am extremely grateful to be given this award. I think of Buffy Sainte-Marie of course. (Sainte-Marie was a recipient of an Oscar for the song Up Where We Belong from An Officer and a Gentleman.)
“It's a great honor to be offered and to accept this award,” said Studi.
“And as Native people, we are taking steps towards recognition for our efforts.”