LOS ANGELES – Julia Jones plays the lone female in a pack of werewolves in “The Twilight Saga” movies.
In portraying Leah Clearwater in the film versions of Stephenie Meyer’s supernaturally popular book series, Jones, 30, also plays a modern-day member of the Quileute Tribe.
“I’m very proud to play a Quileute; the tribe is incredible. I’ve been there to the reservation,” she said during the recent press day for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1″ at the tony Four Seasons Hotel.
“I think it’s very exciting for us to have a contemporary Native American culture be portrayed in the ‘Twilight’ movies. I think it’s done amazing things.”
Jones joined the film saga with the 2010 installment, “Eclipse.” In “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” the fourth and penultimate movie in the series, Leah and her younger brother Seth (Booboo Stewart) get caught up in a possible war between the Quileute werewolves and the vampires of the Cullen clan when Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) gets his human bride Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) pregnant with a mysterious, super-strong baby.
Jones’ other acting credits include a recurring role on TV’s “ER,” along with the films “Black Cloud” and “Jonah Hex.”
“I’m part Chickasaw and Choctaw, but I’m a multi-ethic person. That’s just a part of my identity. I’ve been playing Native roles for a long time, a very long time. And it (‘Twilight’) has been a really rewarding experience in a lot of ways, because there’s a lot to show. It’s an opportunity to portray a group of people who are not portrayed very frequently and very accurately at all in the media. And I cherish that. I think that there should be more roles for Native actors in contemporary pieces, and it’s an important part of who I am,” she said.
“That’s the beauty of these characters who happen to be Native American. These characters are so multilayer and multidimensional, it’s about their struggle and it’s about who they are as people and their essence, as opposed to primarily falling into these stereotypes of what people think Native Americans are. And that really hasn’t been done very much.”
She doesn’t think it’s fair to say that mainstream movie-goers are only interested in American Indian characters if they are supernatural heroes.
“They haven’t had enough exposure to Native American characters to say ‘I’m only interested if they change into wolves,’ and I think that’s too bad,” she said. “I think there are wonderful stories, and it’s an incredibly important part of our history as a country. And they’re just not told because there’s so little presence in mainstream America.”