Pushing boundaries: NM native selected for director's initiative - Albuquerque Journal

Pushing boundaries: NM native selected for director’s initiative

New Mexico native Morningstar Angeline is the second participant in NBCUniversal’s New Mexico Director’s Initiative. Angeline is shown on the set of “PRIMO.” (Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

With each step, Morningstar Angeline is getting closer to her dream.

For years, Angeline has been part of the New Mexico film industry and has worked many facets within the industry.

While she’s enjoyed many of the facets, it’s directing that is pulling on her heart.

It’s exactly why she took a shot and put her name in the hat for NBCU LAUNCH New Mexico Directors Initiative.

The initiative provides mentoring and shadowing opportunities to up-and-coming film and television professionals. It also creates a pipeline of in-state talent for future productions.

Angeline is the second participant.

“I really appreciate the initiative because it is specific and local to New Mexicans,” Angeline says. “It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to participate in this.”

Angeline was born in Santa Fe and grew up in Gallup. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream around 2000.

“When I moved away, we didn’t have ‘Breaking Bad’ yet,” she says. “The thing that propelled me to come back was (2014’s) ‘Drunktown’s Finest.’ When I came here to film, I was like ‘Oh wow, I can work in film in my community where I grew up.’ I wanted to reinvest in myself and the community that I come from.”

Through the initiative, Angeline had the opportunity to shadow on the upcoming show, “Primo,” on two episodes and receive mentorship from director Rebecca Asher. The series is produced by Universal Studio Group and will stream on Freevee.

“Primo” is a heartwarming and highly entertaining coming-of-age comedy about a teenager balancing college aspirations, societal expectations, and a hectic home life anchored by his single mom and five uncles. The series is written and created by Shea Serrano, who serves as executive producer alongside Michael Schur, David Miner and Morgan Sackett.

“I could sit and talk about Rebecca all day,” she says. “With Rebecca, she made the experience different for me. She’s genuine and present. She helped build the confidence in myself as a director and as a woman. She showed me how being collaborative works. If you create a set that is professional, everyone wants to show up, create art and have fun.”

Angeline is of Navajo, Chippewa, Blackfeet and Shoshone heritage.

They are a 2018 Sundance Indigenous Lab, 2020 Native American Features Writers Lab, and a 2021 ImagineNATIVE Director’s Lab fellow.

Their directing credits include short films “Seeds,” “Can’t Have it Both Ways,” and “Yá’át’ééh Abiní.”

In from of the camera, Angeline has been seen in television series like “Outer Range,” “Yellowstone,” “Chambers” and “This Much I Know Is True.”

Angeline says taking part of the program has given her the confidence to keep moving forward in the film industry.

“As a woman, it took me a long time to see that there are people that are going to stand in my way,” she says. “Once I was able to move beyond that, I learned that when I direct, I become a better actor. I feel like I’m living a truer version of myself.”

Now that she’s completed the initiative, Angeline says it’s time for her to keep the inspiration going.

New Mexico native Morningstar Angeline is the second participant in NBCUniversal’s New Mexico Director’s Initiative. (Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

“I want to be one of the people that pushes the wall to the side so more people have the room to be seen,” she says. “I want to keep pushing the boundaries. I have people around me that love and support me. They are constantly forcing me to look in the mirror not to see my reflection, but to see all the people that are behind me and helped me.”

Her biggest lesson in the program was to be present.

“I’ve taken every crew job on set,” she explains. “With this initiative I had to learn to unplug and be there to learn. It’s challenging for me to not want to do everything on set. This was an opportunity for me and I’m going to use it to push myself into the next level.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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