Joanelle a citizen of Mescalero-Chiricahua Apache, Dinétah, Paiute Nations and is SpanishSephardic. A relative of Pawnee, Pojoaque, Southern Ute, Haudenosaunee and Lakota. Joanelle’s father was born on the Jicarilla Reservation and her great-grandma her grandpa’s mother from her mother’s side was born on the Mescalero reservation. Chief Leonard Crow Dog gave Joanelle her name Oyate Wayanka Po Win (People Who See This Woman).
Joanelle Romero Founder President CEO Native-led Woman-led enterprise Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI), the pioneer longest standing Native Media Arts & Cultural non-profit organization in The City of Los Angeles, founded in Santa Fe NM 1995.
Under the parent RNCI organization, Joanelle with more than 44 years curating Native films, established the largest and first Native Film Festival in Los Angeles RED NATION INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (RNIFF) The Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Cinema, held in the month of November in Los Angeles and concludes with RNCI RED NATION AWARDS recognizing excellence in film, television and media.
Most recently 2020, Joanelle established RNCI CREW, California Native Film Commission, New Mexico Film Commission to address below-the-line Inclusion and quality within the entertainment industry. The program is led by Red Nation Celebration Institute with Global partners, it’s a pathway that focuses on entry-level, below-the-line opportunities for Native and Indigenous talent.
She established Native Women in Film & Television Resource Center and Native Women In FILM Festival, held during the Oscar week. At a time in history when Missing and Murdered Native Women and the lack of inclusion of Native Women in film and television were not being heard in media or seen, on January 7, 2018 Joanelle coined #WhyWeWearRED through Native Women in FILM. This Call to Action launched a movement within Indian Country.
In 2006, Joanelle founded and is Owner/CEO of RED NATION TELEVISION NETWORK, the first Global online streaming entertainment media and production company distributed TV Channel exclusively devoted to American Indian and World Indigenous content. With more than 44 years’ experience in the entertainment industry, Joanelle has established RED NATION TV as a successful film distributor and is recognized in the industry as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution dedicated to the Native narrative. Joanelle manages the company’s content acquisition through relationships with studios, networks, filmmakers and producers. The RED NATION TELEVISION NETWORK library has increased from 100 to 1000 titles and still growing on DVD. Joanelle produces original content for Red Nation TV all available to watch instantly on the computer and the TV. RED NATION TV offers an alternate distribution method in providing the broadest variety of films from the Native perspective for consumers that might not otherwise be seen.
2019, Joanelle launched the first ‘Monthly Film Series’ dedicated to Native Cinema held once a month in partnership with Lumiere Music Hall. In the history of the entertainment industry there has never been a venue dedicated to Native Cinema on the big screen.
Joanelle began her long and impressive career as a actress, starring in the first Contemporary American Indian Women’s Story ever producer in 1977 “The Girl Called Hatter Fox” to 1989 Sundance award winning film and cult classic Pow Wow Highway, the film that paved the way for contemporary native filmmaking.
As a filmmaker Joanelle’s film AMERICAN HOLOCAUST: WHEN ITS ALL OVER I’LL STILL BE INDIAN made the Academy’s Documentary Branch and was shortlisted for an Oscar in a preliminary round of voting in 2000. Joanelle is the only Native filmmaker to be short-listed in the Documentary Branch. Joanelle is the first American Indian to receive an humanitarian award the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award given to projects that have “the vision to see the truth and the courage to speak it.”
Joanelle inspired by her mother who was featured in several Elvis Presley films and Joanelle’s relative Congressman Edward R Roybal, standing on their shoulders, she founded in 2005 the American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles and was officially recognized in 2006 by The State of California.
Joanelle is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. A SAG-AFTRA member since 1977, a former SAG-EEOC committee member from 1998 to 2001 and for many years was the only American Indian representing the native voice to the union. At SAG-AFTRA she produced panels “Where Are We (Native Americans) in Film, Television and Radio” (2000) and “Native Women in Film & Television“(2012). Joanelle is also a singer/songwriter discovered by the Legendary Leonard Cohen. She was the first artist that Cohen produced in 1978 at A & M Records. Joanelle lives in Los Angeles and Santa Fe New Mexico, has two young adults and two grandchildren.