‘Walker Independence,’ filmed in Santa Fe, will debut on Oct. 6 on The CW - Albuquerque Journal

‘Walker Independence,’ filmed in Santa Fe, will debut on Oct. 6 on The CW

From left, Justin Johnson Cortez as Calian and Matt Barr as Hoyt Rawlins in a scene from “Walker Independence.” (Courtesy of The CW)

Justin Johnson Cortez is on a mission to learn — no matter the situation.

The actor believes he can take something from each lesson.

He’s currently learning what it’s like to live in the late-1800s as he stars in the new series, “Walker Independence.”

Justin Johnson Cortez stars as Calian in “Walker Independence.” (Brian Higbee/The CW)

“The world that we’re portraying, we want to do it authentically and accurately,” he says. “We have people coming form all different backgrounds.”

“Walker Independence” is the prequel to The CW’s hit series, “Walker.”

The series is set in the late-1800s and begins with Abby Walker, played by Katherine McNamara being left for dead after her husband is murdered.

She survives thanks to the Apache tribe who tend to her injuries and Calian, played by Johnson Cortez, her Native guide who takes her to Independence, Texas, and an uncertain future.

Calian is a member of an Apache tribe living outside of Independence, and he works as a scout for the town while holding mixed feelings about the influx of the white settlers out West.

On one hand, Calian is curious about their innovations, music and culture but he remains wary about losing his tribal lands.

On her quest for revenge, her path crosses with Hoyt Rawlins, played by Matt Barr, which ultimately leads to an entangled relationship for the three characters. The series premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, on the CW, and then joins the Thursday lineup for the network.

The series is being filmed in Santa Fe, where production has been taking place since mid-summer. According to the NM Film Office, the production will employ approximately 275 New Mexico crew members, over 14 New Mexico resident actors, and approximately 3,500 New Mexico background talent.

Johnson Cortez takes on this role with the weight of his ancestors on his shoulders; a Native Yaqui, he learned to speak Apache through an Apache translator on set.

He also did the majority of his own stunts, including some impressive ones on horseback.

“When this opportunity came up, I was a bit nervous because I wanted to make sure that the character was going to be represented in a positive way,” Johnson Cortez says. “I didn’t want to represent the same old image of Native American characters on screen, assimilating into Western culture, so I’m excited to dive in deeper and show the complexities behind this character. There is a way to tell this story by sharing his interests and curiosity in the town in the expansion of the West authentically. That’s going to come out when exploring his past through his history and experience in the world up until that point.”

Johnson Cortez is grateful for the diversity on set for the series.

“When I read the script, my Native side is heartbroken,” he says. “At the same time, I have all these people to figure out. Life in the 1800s is a complex situation. America is a melting pot and the West is the first example of that. The show is going to represent diversity through ethnicities and orientations. Hopefully with the show, we’ll be able to expand on what a Western series is about.”

Johnson Cortez has also been impressed and immersed himself into living in Santa Fe with his family.

The pilot was filmed months before the series got picked up by The CW.

“When we shot the pilot I fell in love with all of the cultures in New Mexico,” he says. “I’m a Native American and I’ve been looking forward to exploring more with my family. My kids saw Indian Market in the summer and it’s been amazing.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » ‘Walker Independence,’ filmed in Santa Fe, will debut on Oct. 6 on The CW


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Griner freed: WNBA star swapped for Russian, heads home
ABQnews Seeker
WASHINGTON (AP) -- American basketball star ... WASHINGTON (AP) -- American basketball star Brittney Griner headed home Thursday night, freed from Russian prison in exchange for the U.S. releasing notorious Russian ...
2
Hospitals continue to get battered by viruses
ABQnews Seeker
At the University of New Mexico ... At the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital ICU on Thursday, there were 22 patients in a unit licensed for 20 beds, and 90% ...
3
Turn your guns into gift cards at ABQ buy-back ...
ABQnews Seeker
Residents can turn in guns for ... Residents can turn in guns for gift cards of up to $250 at a gun buy-back event Saturday, Dec. 10, in Albuquerque. The Guns ...
4
DA's office investigating NMSU staff and players
ABQnews Seeker
NMSU officials plan to hire a ... NMSU officials plan to hire a third-party investigator to review the fatal Nov. 19 shooting
5
A family fight the day after Thanksgiving and a ...
ABQnews Seeker
Officials say the man shot by ... Officials say the man shot by officers was armed with knives
6
Albuquerque's Kickstand Cafe is under new ownership
ABQnews Seeker
The North Valley business will hold ... The North Valley business will hold its grand reopening this weekend.
7
Former Catron County sheriff faces 10 felony charges for ...
ABQnews Seeker
A former New Mexico sheriff was ... A former New Mexico sheriff was charged Thursday with embezzlement and money laundering for allegedly taking $39,000 in federal funds intended to reimburse Catron ...
8
Katy Duhigg, first-term senator from Albuquerque, tapped to lead ...
ABQnews Seeker
Democrat Katy Duhigg is in line ... Democrat Katy Duhigg is in line to serve as the next chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee at the Roundhouse, where she would fill ...
9
Microwave technology is getting closer to the battlefield. This ...
ABQnews Seeker
Air Force lab accelerates development of ... Air Force lab accelerates development of ‘directed energy’ systems