Now & Next Podcast S3E7 – Breaking On-Screen Stereotypes from the Inside Out

On this episode of Now and Next, we meet Jacob Pratt, an Indigenous film producer from Saskatchewan, now based in Los Angeles. He explains to host Leora Kornfeld that the best way to fight stereotypes perpetuated by the media, is to use the same medium to break them. 

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Fighting for better representation from within

As a child growing up in southern Saskatchewan Jacob Pratt found himself watching TV – as most kids do – and wondering why he saw no one who looked nor acted like him. 

Jacob grew up on the George Gordon First Nation reserve, about 100 km north of Regina, and remembers that the only images he saw of people from his culture on TV and in movies were stereotypes like people dancing around drums or as members of a tribe from the 1800s riding into town on horseback. 

“Why is there no one that looks like me in Home Alone?”, he thought to himself. It took several years for Jacob to process, and ultimately answer that question for himself. He built his career in the entertainment industry one step at a time, first as a dancer, then as an actor, and more recently as a producer and director. 

It was along this journey that Jacob realized that the stereotypical images of Indigenous people he had seen his whole life were not just created by the industry, but reinforced by it. “And then I started thinking to myself, well, how can we reverse or eliminate those stereotypes? And the first answer that came to me was: use the same medium that created and reinforced those stereotypes to reverse them.”

On this episode of the Now and Next, Jacob Pratt talks about his journey from a town of a few thousand people on the prairies to the heart of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where he recently completed his Masters at USC, and launched his own company, Skoden Entertainment. Skoden is an Indigenous story-focused entertainment production company whose first client happens to be Disney!

But this is not the story of an overnight success. Far from it. While still based in Canada, Jacob hosted, produced, and directed several shows on APTN. And it was while doing an internship at Disney, as part of his Masters program at USC, that he forged the relationships that would lead to his current work with the entertainment industry giant. 

In this episode, learn more about:

  • How using the entertainment industry can be a great way to reverse stereotypes created and reinforced by the media (02:20);
  • The biggest challenges in bringing Indigenous stories created by Indigenous filmmakers to a wide audience (6:30); 
  • The story of how of Jacob got the deal with Disney (09:00);
  • Skoden Entertainment’s plans to impact Indigenous communities more directly in the future (10:30).

Download a transcript of the episode

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About Now & Next

Now & Next is a podcast featuring in-depth interviews in which experts take a closer look at emerging trends and the digital transformation of the media and entertainment industries. Now & Next is brought to you by the Canada Media Fund, produced by Katie Jensen and recorded in Toronto at Vocal Fry Studios. Leora Kornfeld hosts the series.