×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Johnny Depp’s Dior Ad Co-Star Tanaya Beatty Speaks Out, Encourages Him to Donate to Native Cause

Tanaya Beatty, Johnny Depp’s co-star in a short film promoting luxury brand Dior’s fragrance Sauvage, has spoken out about the controversial campaign.

In multiple posts on Instagram, titled “Just Ad Indian,” the “Yellowstone” actor wrote about her own experience as a performer of First Nations descent and of the Native American-themed Dior campaign specifically. Beatty’s character, “the maiden,” is described in marketing collateral as a “suggestive feminine presence, febrile and sensual,” evoking negative stereotypes about Native American women.

Beatty wrote that she was hesitant to take on the role and felt conflicted during filming, “witnessing as a company blatantly disrespected indigenous culture.”

“When we filmed it, I could only hope that it would start the conversation it now has,” the Canadian actor, who is of Da’naxda’xw tribe descent, said.

Teasers for the Jean-Baptiste Mondino-directed short film — which was supposed to be released Sept. 1 — were posted to Dior’s social media accounts on Aug. 29 but deleted within hours following criticism that the “We are the Land” campaign relied on stereotypes about Native American cultures and constituted cultural appropriation.

“My intention is not to shame Dior or call out Johnny Depp. The issues are far bigger than any advertisement. And having worked with them, I do believe Dior — though misguided — had every intention of showing indigenous culture in a beautiful light while giving jobs to some Indians in the process,” Beatty continued.

She also indicated that she would be making a donation to an inter-tribal environmental non-profit. “And… perhaps I’d even encourage a certain perfume company and a certain beloved pirate to make a donation as well. Just sayin’,” Beatty wrote.

Beatty also went on to detail some of the indignities she has suffered as an actor of Native descent, noting that many roles offered to Native actors are problematic. “On set, I’ve had my hair touched, been told I am too native looking, not native looking enough, been asked to be naked, been told I need more fake blood on my face to look like I’ve been really raped, been touched inappropriately, been called slurs, and been told by someone that they didn’t know natives still [existed].”

“Throughout the history of Natives in film, we’ve been made a spectacle. Marginalized, fetishized, used as a backdrop,” she added.

In addition to accusations of cultural appropriation, critics of the Dior campaign took issue with the name of the fragrance itself, as “sauvage” is French for “wild” and “savage,” the latter being a racial slur used to describe Native peoples throughout North American history (the fragrance name has been used since the 1960s).

One since-pulled trailer shows Depp playing guitar riffs against the Arches National Monument in Utah and Rose Sioux tribe member Canku Thomas One Star performing a traditional dance. The film was made in partnership with the non-profit Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO).

Depp himself has made claims of Native American ancestry in the past and, in 2012, was adopted into the family of AIO president LaDonna Harris, a member of the New Mexico-based Comanche tribe. In the trailer, Depp says that he was christened a cultural name, Mah-Woo-May, which means “shapeshifter.” He has been the face of the fragrance since 2015.

The since-deleted trailer touched on the topic of cultural appropriation.

“Cultural appropriation, for us, is a huge thing because we’ve been dealing with this since colonization,” says consultant Ron Martinez Looking Elk.

When asked for comment following the initial social media posts, a representative for Dior forwarded a press release from the AIO which stated that “Depp reached out to his Comanche family to ask for their help to ensure Native cultures were portrayed appropriately.”

The statement added that the campaign is part of a larger initiative “to change the misperceptions about Native Americans, to share accurate American history, to build awareness about Native Americans as contemporary peoples and to promote Indigenous worldviews.”

Depp played Tonto in Disney’s re-imagining of “The Lone Ranger” in 2013, a portrayal that drew criticism for promoting a stereotypical image of Native Americans.

This is not the first time the LVMH-owned luxury brand has been accused of cultural insensitivity. In 2018, Dior was accused of whitewashing in promotions for its Dior Cruise 2019 collection, inspired by Mexican horsewomen called escaramuzas. The campaign featured Jennifer Lawrence, a face of the brand since 2012, who is not of Mexican descent.

Representatives for Depp and Mondino did not immediately answer requests for comment.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content