JOANELLE ROMERO, short listed for Academy Award, is an award-winning director, producer, writer of film, television and digital. A member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Screen Actors Guild/Aftra.

Now You Know - Mini Bio


As you are aware there are not very many films written for native women to star in. Joanelle has a long career as an actress; Joanelle had lead role in the 1989 critically acclaimed George Harrison film, a Sundance award winner and cult classic “Pow Wow Highway,” it was the break through native feature that paved the way for “contemporary” native filmmaking.  The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences does not consider television movies of the week, however Joanelle’s first lead role was the first contemporary native woman’s story ever produced in the U.S. movie made for television “The Girl Called Hatter Fox.” It’s the first time a Native Actress carried a leading role in a movie.

Joanelle appeared in the following films (this does not include her television appearances) and have held various roles throughout her acting career:

Wild Indian – Native Women 2021

Black Cloud – Victoria Nez 2004

Powwow Highway – Bonnie Red Bow 1989

Vendetta – Elena 1986

City Limits – Woman in Desert 1984

The Horse Dealer’s Daughter (Short) – Young Woman 1983

Parasite – Bo 1983

Barbarosa – Young Prostitute 1982

Joanelle has been a SAG-AFTRA member since 1977 She sat on the SAG-EEOC committee from 1998 to 2001 and for many years was the only Native Indigenous actress in this committee representing the native voice to the union. At SAG-AFTRA; she produced events through her Red Nation Celebration Institute including panels; “Where Are We (Native Americans) in Film, Television and Radio” (2000) and Native Women in Film & Television” (2012).

As an actress, she has work with some of the best in the business and studied for years at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio.

Additionally, Joanelle has worked with the following directors: George Schaefer, Oliver Stone, Fred Schepisi, Gregory Hoblit, Charles Band, Mel Damski, Ricky Schroder, and Aaron Lipstadt.


Joanelle shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2000. She wrote, produced, directed and scored the music for her documentary short “American Holocaust: When It’s All Over I’ll Still Be Indian”, narrated by Edward Asner. This is the only film to date that addresses the American Indian and Jewish Holocaust. This film continues to have relevance with over three million+ views on YouTube, continues to produce revenue and still screens at universities globally. In 2005, her film won the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award given to projects that have “the vision to see the truth and the courage to speak it.”

For this groundbreaking effort Joanelle has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for the visionary and humanitarian work including:

2006 National Women’s History Month Awards and received the award for Generations of Women Moving History Forward for development of Red Nation Television Network (RNTV), internet accessible All Native programming

2005 Armin T. Wegner “Humanitarian” Award for the vision to see the truth… and the courage to speak it for American Holocaust: When It’s All Over I’ll Still Be Indian documentary as director and producer

2003 The Fargo Film Festival Award for Best Documentary Short for American Holocaust: When It’s All Over I’ll Still Be Indian

2000 The American Indian Film Festival Awards, Best Documentary Short for American Holocaust: When Its All Over I’ll Still Be Indian

2000 Academy Awards, USA, Oscar consideration and shortlist final

In addition, Joanelle founded in 1995, Red Nation International Film Festival, Home to the Native Documentary Voice and our Red Nation Television NetworkNative is Here, broadcasts original content, movies, documentaries, shorts reaching 10 million viewers in 37 countries.


Joanelle Romero has curated film for the past 44 years, is a executive producer, producer and writer on several television and documentaries.  Joanelle has made an outstanding contribution to the arts and science of motion picture in producing American Indian content to the world.

On March 27, 2016, Joanelle produced and was moderator for Native Women in Film & Television NIGHT BEFORE THE OSCARS Series “Through the Lens of Indigenous Eyes Up Close & Personal in a conversation with native actors from the Award-winning Oscars “The Revenant.” Actors in attendance were Duane Howard, Arthur Redcloud and Forrest Goodluck. This series is to be broadcast on Red Nation Television Network.

Joanelle is founder and producer of the first American Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles. Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF) – The Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Cinema, since 1995.

Two of the independent feature films “Frozen River” and “The Garden” were first screened at RNIFF in 2008 and went on to be nominated in 2009 for an Academy Award and Independent Spirit Award.

RNIFF has helped launch feature films such as: “Frozen River” – starring Misty Upham, “JIMMY P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian” – starring Benicio Del Toro and Misty Upham, “Yellow Rock,” “West of Thunder,” “The Cherokee Word for Water,” “Chasing Shakespeare” starring Danny Glover, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” presented in the Navajo language, including my exclusive partnership with Summit Entertainment’s feature film “Twilight Saga- New Moon”, in screening before its premier to the general public. This was a first for Summit Entertainment in regards to screening their franchise at any film festival, as well as countess documentaries like “Honor the Treaties.”

Joanelle produces a LIVE broadcast each year RNCI Red Nation Awards Show – on Red Nation Television Network, reaching 10 million viewers in 37 countries.
You can watch the show here:

Joanelle Romero is Founder and CEO of Red Nation Television Network – Native is Here, as well as produces original content for the network. Red Nation TV is the first all native online streaming company dedicated to American Indian & Indigenous content, reaching 10 million viewers in 37 countries. Founded in 2006 ( We are actively pursuing to have our online streaming company on a cable provider.

Joanelle is producer/founder/president of Native Women in Film & Television Film Festival. This is the only Native women’s film festival dedicated to American Indian & Indigenous women.

Joanelle produced the first Native Cinema Gala held during American Film Market in 2015, highlighting Native Cinema “Indigenous Eyes Filmmakers Showcase.” This has become an annual event with its new name ‘Native Film Market.’

Joanelle producer on Red Nation Celebration Concert Series – since 1995 has been filmed and broadcast in the U.S. and Europe.

In addition, she has been producing ground-breaking events all relating to American Indian in Films, TV and music in Los Angeles and New Mexico for 44 years.

Her passion is creating opportunities for Native and Indigenous creatives in motion picture industry.  She is CEO/Founder/President of Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI) founded in 1995 out of a direct need. RNCI is based in Los Angeles California and its home is in Santa Fe NM. RNCI Creating Systemic Change through the ARTS™ The first and largest National Native Women-Led, Indigenous enterprise – Founded 1995 in Santa Fe New Mexico during Indian Market. Red Nation Celebration Institute is the longest standing American Indian & Indigenous media educational Arts & Cultural federally recognized 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Los Angeles CA.

Red Nation Celebration Institute the Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Nations, led by Native-women to increase visibility of independent filmmakers, media artists, contemporary and traditional performing arts of diverse artistic disciplines and content creators amplifying cinematic excellence in creating systemic change through the arts with an emphasis on initiatives for Native women, girls and youth in all media platforms and educational institutions, in conjunction with partners from around the world.

Joanelle coined #NativesInChargeOfTheirNarrative #WhyWeWearRED #WhoTellsTheStoryMatters RNCI is dedicated to changing the narrative about Native peoples on a global scale. Joanelle built the Red Nation Celebration Institute, now in its 27th year 2022; to cast light on the voices, stories, contributions and assets of contemporary Native peoples in replacing dangerous stereotypes that Native peoples face in media and academia with a 27 year history of cohesive research-informed strategies, ground-breaking initiatives, though cinematic excellence, media and strong focus on partnerships.

As president and founder of RNCI, she has had the pleasure of working with many organizations including both public and private corporations. She is active in Los Angeles and throughout the country in promoting Native American and Indigenous cultures while providing an outlet for creative arts that includes films and filmmaking.

For example, Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF), held every November during American Indian Heritage Month, allows us to screen more than 60+ films per year that have been directed or produced by Native and Indigenous filmmakers. RNCVI is a pioneer organization that continues to showcase talented individuals and bring them to the forefront of the industry. RNCI has the vision for creating avenues to get the films and filmmakers an audience while introducing them to the global mainstream audience.

Joanelle works tirelessly with City of Los Angeles, the Mayor’s office and LA County Supervisors to accomplish our goals. She has made alliances with political leaders, environmental leaders, school districts, elected officials, Los Angeles power brokers and the general public.

RNCI is a visionary organization and empowers, inspires, motivates, includes, honors and educates not only our own people, tribal nations and youth, but also the general public.

Accomplishments include many first time events in the history of American Indian Arts and Culture that include:

First cultural events that recognized American Indian contributions to the performance arts through the “Red is Green Galacarpet events in Los Angeles.

The First film award RNCI Red Nation Film Award of Excellence Red Nation Statuette to recognize and honor Native and Indigenous achievements in film.

Red Nation Television NetworkNative is Here. First all native content Internet Online Streaming Company (2006 to present).

Award: National Women’s History Project Award for launching the first Native Television Network.

The only Native Women in Film & Television Company.

Joanelle presented a narrative forum “The Power of Film – Reconnecting Hollywood, American Indians, and Native Youth Through Media” at NICWA 2016 and November 9 at 13th Red Nation Film Festival.

In addition, Joanelle is working on directing her first feature film “Second Sunrise” that is in pre-production. In post productions her two documentary features “Native Women RISE” due to the fact that many native women are abused and murdered in this country with the highest rates among any people. One in three native women will be raped in her lifetime. That’s a huge number given our population and this is just now being exposed to mainstream society. It is an important issue for indigenous people worldwide, the violence against women, that needs to be explored and stories told.

“Policed Since 1492: Incarceration of Native Nations.”

It is time to include American Indian narrative in all genres of filmmaking. It is critical to the human condition, to our spirituality, to the future of our youth and all youth.

RNCI Board of Directors is dedicated to the work that we produce here at Red Nation Celebration Institute. Thank you.

© 2024 Joanelle Romero. All rights reserved.


Sign Up Today to receive breaking news from Joanelle Romero