This year marks the 59th year Joanelle Romero is in the entertainment industry, starting off at age three performing plays with her mom and Grandpa then moving on to her first starring role in 1977.
Joanelle Romero is considered one of the most influential people in Indian Country and entertainment industry. Romero has been singular in harnessing the power of the media and entertainment communities to pioneer a high impact model of inclusion of American Indian & Indigenous talent, content, social activism, utilizing storytelling and message development to drive awareness into action and solutions.
Throughout the 24 years as the CEO/ Founder/President of Red Nation Celebration Institute [RNCI] was founded to influence the public, industry communities and government relations bringing awareness through television, film and music with content that directly reflects the Native Narrative.
RNCI serves as a leading tool to connect industries, brands, influencers and entrepreneurs to collaborate, advocate and drive action empowering not only individuals, but the corporate world as well. RNCI is a diverse subsection of entertainment industry tastemakers, entrepreneurs in finance and technology and green icons dedicated to the mission of promoting the Native Voice at the forefront of the entertainment industry through celebrity role modeling, campaign work, year-round programs and our four large scale annual events and a Television Online Streaming Network, RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival, RNCI Red Nation Awards, Native Women in FILM Film Festival, RNCI Legacy Honors Benefit Gala, Red Nation Television Network.
Romero has the pulse on the millennial generation, understanding their need for representation in all media platforms, willingness to be educated as consumers and the strong desire to maintain their own narrative while embracing new technology.
November 2015, Romero’s insight brought together a group of Native youth members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and included Jasilyn Charger, Jasilea Rose Charger, and Joesph White Eyes among others to attend the first ‘Indigenous Women’s Climate Change March’ These young people had never before seen the ocean, nor been on a plane, but they did a beautiful job –– their voices strong –– in leading the climate change march, and subsequently sang beautifully on the LIVE televised RNCI Red Nation Awards Show. Upon returning home to North Dakota, these same youth had a hand in establishing the first resistance camp against the Dakota Access Pipeline –– Sacred Stone –– in April of 2016. They would go on to petition the federal government for redress, running in relay nearly 2000 miles to speak face to face with the Army Corp of Engineers in Washington, DC. Their inspired action sparked the support of tribal leadership, and eventually Woke the World to the Resistance at Standing Rock, generating one of the biggest social movements of our time. This is an illustration of what can happen when you make a commitment to youth, and put serious time and energy into honoring their good work: inspiration and courage are strongly nourished –– and has prove to be contagious.
Romero is authentically the iconic persona and voice clearly embracing and educating the bigger picture of inclusion and sustainable lifestyle. Through the RNCI Board of Directors, Romero has built a powerful coalition of influencers and allies including RNCI Board Members, Edward James Olmos, Paul Audley, Aubrey Hicks, A Martinez, Michael O’Keefe, Tokala Clifford, Elizabeth Kucinich, Dan Aykroyd, Esai Morales, LaDonna Harris, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Faithkeeper Chief Oren Lyons, Julia Bogany, Jaima Chevalier, Teri Red Owl, Linda Tenequer as well as her deep relationships within American Indian communities, studios, agencies, institutes and governmental bodies. Her deeply rooted relationships across entertainment and media have allowed the organization to amplify its initiatives and cement them in both popular culture and in the public consciousness.
Romero’s leadership, with her RNCI has been responsible for some of the most public and pivotal milestones in spotlighting the Native Narrative in Hollywood, and has forged partnerships over the years including working with CBS Corporation, ABC Television Group, Walt Disney Studios, Comcast NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group, Summit Entertainment, TNT Network, Screen Actors Guild, Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Writers Guild of America, Steven Spielberg, Clear Channel, Paramount Pictures, Grammy Foundation, HBO, Time Warner, Ted Turner, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal/Comcast launching the first time America watched an American Indian Awards show RNCI Red Nation Awards, reaching 19 million homes.
Romero through her dedication and strong leadership has founded, launched and popularize RED NATION CELEBRATION INSTITUTE the Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Nations throughout the entertainment community resulting in a global presence with RNCI Programs, the first Native film festival in Los Angeles Red Nation International Film Festival, the first Native Television Network Red Nation Television Network, the first and only Native Women in FLM Film Festival, including 24 years of ground- breaking initiatives and empowering Native youth #RedNationNextGen throughout Indian Country.
Most recently, October 8, 2018, Romero launched a Press Conference announcing the Inaugural ‘RNCI Red Nation Awards List of Nominees with hosts: Ed Begley Jr., A Martinez, Paul Audley, Aubrey Hicks, held downtown at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Celebration of Indigenous People Day, broadcast live on Red Nation Television Network and social media platforms.
In 2018, she created Native Women in FILM #WhyWeWearRED Media Coalition in order to create a synergistic relationships with the entertainment industries and governmental relations to address the Lack of Inclusion Native Women in Film & Television, including Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls with her partnership with Congresswoman Debra Haaland.
2016, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, VP Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey invited Joanelle Romero to the First United State of Women Summit to represent her Native Women in FILM & Television initiative.
Romero was invited in 2016, becoming a Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences member and is the only Native filmmaker to be short- listed for an Oscar in 2000 for her film *American Holocaust: When Its All Over I’ll Still be Indian.
2015, Holiness Dalai Lama invited Joanelle Romero to represent Native Women and sing traditional songs at his 80th Birthday Party, reaching millions to the message of our Native narrative and woman leaders.
Native FILM Market, the only American Indian & Indigenous Distribution film market in the world, with its inaugural event at American Film Market in 2015, bringing together over 400 distribution companies from around the world.
She invented and implemented “On the Red is Green Carpet” in 2009, placing American Indian celebs at the forefront of the Green Movement and environmentally-conscious practices as staples of major events with the awareness of American Indian the first environmentalist and Native Fashion with Social Action.
Romero has grown the organization’s flagship gala, the RNCI Red Nation Awards, “Hollywood & Indian Country’s Biggest Night for American Indian & Indigenous Voices™” which recognizes the very best of American Indian & Indigenous contributions to film, television, comedy, music and the arts, including RNCI Tribute Awards recognizing our Allies efforts across entertainment, to be one of the year’s most acclaimed and anticipated events leading up to Awards Season.
Romero, an influential curator of Native cinema, produces RNCI RED NATION INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, RNCI RED NATION AWARDS, NATIVE WOMEN IN FILM Festival, RNCI LEGACY HONORS BENEFIT GALA annually. These are live broadcast level productions that have aired on networks like Red Nation Television Network, Comcast/NBC Universal, Channel 35 and regularly receives over millions of media impressions. In addition, with deft use of social media, key speakers trend on platforms with over 10 million views being the norm from these events and throughout the year with their viral content.
The social reach of Romero’s Board Members is over 50 million. Over the past years, the RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival and RNCI Red Nation Awards has hosted entertainers, dignitaries and activists such as Benicio Del Toro, Taylor Sheridan, Dolores Huerta, Dan Aykroyd, Edward James Olmos, Ed Begley Jr, Jason George, Miko Brando, Dr. Jane Goodall, John Savage, Max Gail, A Martinez, April Webster, Sally Kirkalnd, Hawk Lopez, Ronee Blakley, Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth Kucinich, Former Governor Bill Richardson, Mayor Alan Webber, Former Mayor Javier Gonzales, Former Mayor Debbie Jaramillio, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Former Lit Governor Cruz Bustamante, Dean Stockwell, Mitch Perry, Gary Busey, Shepard Fairey, Balthazar Getty, Alma Martinez, Lita Ford, Phil Soussan, Alan Krigger, Paul Rodriguez, Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the late City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, the late Russell Means, the late John Trudell, the late Edward Albert Jr., Joanne Shenandoah, Joy Harjo, Gil Birmingham, A Martinez, Zahn McClarnon, Forrest Goodluck, Arthur RedCloud, Faith Keeper Oren Lyons, Eddie Spears, Michael Spears, Joe Brings Plenty, Kimberly Guerrero, Jeremiah Bitsui, Chaske Spencer, Heather Rae, Tonantzin Carmelo, Tantoo Cardinal, Saginaw Grant, Tatanka Means, Tokala Clifford, Tribal Leaders, and the late Misty Upham, CBS Josie Thomas, NBC Tim McNeal, to many to mention all, in addition all our filmmakers.
Fostering an infrastructure to integrate the message NATIVES IN CHARGE OF THEIR NARRATIVE by leveraging the power and visibility of entertainment media and celebrity.
Since inception RNCI includes schools and families with educational programs on reservations and urban areas across the Country. In 2018, RNCI partnered with USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Bedrosian Center to further expand the voice and inclusion of Natives in Charge of their Narrative.
The organization’s many initiatives include #WhyWeWearRED, RNCI Red Nation Conversation Series, the Environmental Series, Masterclasses, and Podcasts Series bringing together some of the most influential minds to discuss and explain current issues facing our entertainment industries, the planet, leading the charge for inclusion, protecting our natural lands, working towards the future when our American Indian & Indigenous youth can see themselves in all media platforms.
RNCI serves as a valuable link between the world of media and the corporate and Native and environmental communities, working tirelessly to bring the planet’s most pressing issues to the forefront of pop culture and make true change by inspiring the next generation of game changers and spokespeople leading their generations to a more inclusive representation of American Indian & Indigenous peoples.
Romero’s debut in *The Girl Called Hatter Fox*, C.B.S. Movie was ground- breaking being the first contemporary native women’s story produced in the U.S. and was the first time an American Indian actress carried a leading role in a contemporary film. Romero has been in numerous other films and roles in episodic television and MOW’s.
She went on to star in the Beatle George Harrison’s 1989 cult classic *Pow Wow Highway* which changed the native narrative forever. This year 2019 marks the 30th anniversary.
Discovered by the Legendary Leonard Cohen, Joanelle has toured with Sarah McLaughlin on the “Lilith Fair Tour” with Sinead O’Connor, the Indigo Girls and Natalie Merchant; Romero has been invited by such notables as The Holiness Dalai Lama, The United Nations 60th Anniversary, Jane Goodall, Cesar Chavez National Holidays, Gandhi’s Grandson for Peace Day, Earth Day Celebrations in performing Traditional Blessing Spiritual songs.
Romero has opened for notable artists as Rick Danko of The Band, Kris Kristofferson, Stevie Wonder, Eric Anderson, John Trudell, Paul Butterfield, Tin Machine, Freddie Fender, Ritchie Havens and Roseanne Cash.
Joanelle Romero’s name and long history is well documented in Congress and can be traced prior to the year 1600 in Pecos, New Mexico. Congressman Edward R Roybal and Congresswomen Lucille Roybal Allard are Joanelle’s cousins. Joanelle’s mothers mother, her Great Grandma Eufemia was sister to Congressman Edward R Roybal dad. Congressman Edward R Roybal was a trailblazer and being the first Native/ Latino Los Angeles City Council member who went on to break through the barriers and launch ground-breaking initiatives.
Joanelle is connected and active with her tribal relations across Indian Country. She is the first child of Rita Rogers (Ida Mae Aragon) an actress (Mescalero Apache/ SpanishSephardicJew) and father Robert Romero (Apache/Navajo/Southern Ute/ Paiute/Cheyenne Nations). Joanelle’s dad was born on the Jicarilla Apache Nation Reservation. She is also Pawnee, Pojoaque by marriage and have Oneida Iroquois family relations.
Joanelle is a Sundancer and Sacred pipe carrier. Chief Leonard Crow Dog gave her mother her traditional name and gave Joanelle’s traditional name “Oyate Wayanka Po Win” in a ceremony held at Crow Dogs Paradise, on Rosebud Reservation during a Sundance Ceremony. Joanelle’s first born is adopted Lakota.
Joanelle has grown up the in entertainment industry, her mother Rita Rogers was signed to Universal Studios and was in several Elvis Presley Films. Her mother co-started in Peter Fonda’s film ‘The Hired Hand’ and was featured in several Red Skelton Shows and Carol Burnett Show and Smothers Brothers Show.
Romero has received these prestigious awards:
Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award for “the vision to see the truth and the courage to speak it” Romero is the first American Indian to receive a Humanitarian of any kind. Romero received film awards like The Fargo Film Festival Award; The American Indian Film Festival Award (San Francisco); Columbus International Film & Video Festival Honorable Mention Award; and several Red Earth Film Festival Awards and Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Integrity Award.
2006 Romero was inducted into The National Women’s History Month with Generations of Women Moving History Forward for The First American Indian Television Channel and served on the United Nations Pasadena Chapter board.
She has two adult children, graduates of Yale University and Berklee College of Music and an active grandmother of one.