the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Wes Studi

Santa Fe

2010 recipient, Individual Artist

Santa Fe-based actor Wes Studi has broken new ground in motion pictures and television by bringing fully-developed Native American characters to the screen. His body of work includes more than 60 films and television shows and has established him as a premier Native American actor. Anne Hillerman noted in her letter of support that he received a First Americans in the Arts Award for his role as Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn in PBS Mystery Theater’s Thief of Time. This teacher, musician, sculptor, and director is also the author of two children’s books written in the Cherokee language. Wes Studi has taken a national leadership role in the promotion and preservation of indigenous languages. A native of Oklahoma, Studi has lived in New Mexico for more than 20 years and has used his star power to encourage the development of film production in New Mexico, including supporting the growth of filmmaker training and apprenticeship programs. In 2009, Studi received the Santa Fe Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. "Wes Studi has forever shattered the biased, stereotypical description of American Indians that was propagated by Hollywood moviemakers for many decades," said nominator Michael McGarrity, a former recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.