Hip Hop artist Jay-Z and director Ava DuVernay have recently released the video Family Feud based on a futuristic United States that has embraced matriarchy. The video comes off of Jay-Z’s 4:44 album and includes a long list of notable actors and artists such as Beyonce’, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jessica Chastain, Omari Hardwick and Irene Bedard. Bedard portrays a Native American woman as co-President in 2444.
The video, which is now available for viewing on TIDAL, has received considerable acclaim on social media and critics are lauding DuVernay for the inclusion of all races and the concept of a ‘founding mothers’ in a proposed United States future.
In an interview with Irene Bedard, who has recently been involved with such projects as The Bygone a film about MMIW and Westworld, Bedard discussed what it was like to portray a president of the future and her experience working alongside other high-caliber artists in the film and music industry.
How did it feel to be co-Madame President in Family Feud?
It felt really great! I was out at Standing Rock as a special consult for the International Cities of Peace. We were there to ask permission from the elders regarding a peace treaty.
In the midst of all of this in Standing Rock, where reception is terrible, I got a call from my agent asking if I could be ready in three days to do a video project in New York. I got on a plane not knowing what I was doing except it was an untitled Ava DuVernay project. I love her and I knew whatever she was doing, it would be awesome. I went with complete faith.
What was your experience with the director Ava DuVernay?
I first met her when I was in the trailer and she walked in to say hi. She is just a force of nature. Her writing is so intelligent and this was her concept. It seemed to me that Jay-Z probably just said ‘go Ava.’
She looked at me and said, ‘So, you are the President of the United States in the year 2444.’ I was like, ‘What?’ (laughs.) She said, ‘You are actually the co-President because at this time we have realized over the generations that we need to have more balance between the feminine and masculine.’
I thought, ‘Wow, she is so amazing.’ I then discovered my scene was with Jessica (Chastain) and Omari (Hardwick.)
Nobody wins when the family feuds
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) December 29, 2017
I wasn’t sure if Jessica would remember me from Tree of Life but it was great when she came up to me and said ‘Irene!’ But as far as working with that caliber I was like, ‘Yes, let’s do this!’
Of course this was going to done right with a director like Ava, but then to have Beyoncé and Jay-Z? I got to tell my son about this, He was like, ‘what?’ (laughs.) This project gave me some teenager cool points. (laughs.)
Next scene is about… actually I won’t tell you what we think they are about. This piece is for you. You decide. Loved working with @OmariHardwick @IreneBedard1 + @Jes_Chastain. They were all busy. But all came to play and I loved sharing the time with them. #FamilyFeudFilm pic.twitter.com/2yLftTRJbr
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 29, 2017
What is the importance of the matrilineal concept shown by the ‘Founding Mother’s’ featured in the ‘Family Feud’ video?
Just as Walt Pourier discusses in relation to the Stronghold Society, most of our indigenous societies are matrilineal in nature. He considers this to be the age of the daughters. We are now moving into the era of White Buffalo Calf Woman, which is the Lakota perspective, but I feel like we are struggling now moving from the many generations of patrilineal societies and concepts.
Violence to Mother Earth is another representation of violence against women. Why do we do this? I feel it is because we are out of balance.
If you look at the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman, there are two men who come to her and one man wanted to own her, while the other wanted to give respect and value. The man who wanted to own her got the thunderbolt, the other who wanted to honor her received the gifts, the pipe and the people thrived.
We are lacking in intelligent discourse. I believe that we as a society are much more capable of being tolerant and loving to one another, than what might appear on the internet.
How did you choose to portray yourself as Madame President?
I love that Madame President had red and black coloring, And had a modern and futuristic version of Yupiak / Inuit tattoos and red lines of the Plains people. I felt my tattoos gave a bit of a regal quality, but also to me the tattoos represented energy in the body, the third eye and the arrow down represented how at times we have to go down in order to come back up again.
There was a lot of thought that went into this and in trying to pay homage to our ancient-ness but also moving into the future.
I ended my statement with Mitakuye Oyasin “We are all related” which is the same as E Pluribus Unum, meaning “Out of many, one.” I put that in there and Ava was incredible about it. She wanted us to add anything we could. When I said ‘Mitakuye Oyasin,’ Ava said ‘Oh, that is great!’
Overall, I wanted to give a sense of the presence of all Native cultures.
E Pluribus Unum. Out of Many, One. Mitakuye Oyasin. All my relations. https://t.co/jZ30GgC1lu
— Irene Bedard (@IreneBedard1) December 30, 2017
You have already received some positive reactions on social media
It has been amazing to see so many responses from people of all creeds, races and religions respond positively and they are so happy at the thought of having a Native American woman as president in the future.
I like to have intelligent discourse and I like to have peace. If you are going to work toward something, truth and justice seems to be a problem so I am working on peace.
We need hope.
To view to Family Feud visit https://listen.tidal.com.
Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter