Amber Midthunder stars in “Prey,” a prequel to one of the most notorious monster movies of all time. Set 300 years before the events of 1987’s “Predator,” “Prey” follows the titular monster alien and its encounter with one of its first foes on Earth — Naru, a young Comanche woman trained to survive the harshest environments and conditions.
In an interview with Native Media Theory, Midthunder talked about the making of “Prey” and the all too rare experience of working on a big budget film where the plot is intrinsically linked to indigenous culture and its people.
“I try to be very intentional when I take a native-specific role because representation is hugely important and impactful to native communities in so many different ways,” said Midthunder. When discussing the role further, she said that the film’s environment was unique, with everyone involved trying hard and doing the necessary research to respect the indigenous culture in which they were setting their story.
When asked about her feelings on being an indigenous person playing an indigenous role, Midthunder made it clear how important it was for her to represent the culture accurately and the pressure she felt for the film to be respectful and truthful. “The biggest thing for me was the pressure to hopefully represent well the Comanche nation. We took the film there and screened it there and that’s what I was most scared of, of how the community would receive it. On top of ‘Predator’ fans and everybody loving it.”
Still, playing a role that’s so personal to her and her life experiences was something unique and special for her. “Shooting the film in a place where the people & the culture are so similar to me was such a huge gift. That gave me a lot of ease of being able to step into this character and into this world. Going to the gas station and everybody speaks Nakota, I was like ‘man, this is so cool!’”
The presence of Native American stories and actors in media is slowly improving, even though there’s much work to be done. “Prey” joins a variety of films and TV shows, like “Reservation Dogs,” “Yellowstone,” and more, that explore this culture with nuance, all the while featuring new and booming Native American talent.
When asked about advice for young Native Americans in the industry, Midthunder said that ambition is key. “Chase it, work hard, go out there and make your own content,” she said. “Know that whatever you want to say, whatever you want to do is important and valid. Indigenous voices are not out there enough.”
“Prey” premieres August 5th, on Hulu. The film is directed by Dan Trachtenberg and is part of the “Predator” universe, which tracks different stories and encounters surrounding an alien species of intelligent and militaristic extraterrestrials called the Predators. The films have featured actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adrien Brody, Danny Glover, and more.