When LA Confidential hops on a Zoom call with Devery Jacobs in mid-October, she sparse on details for her upcoming film Backspot, for which she stars and is making her debut as a producer. “It’s a project that I’m so excited to finally see come to life,” she opens up. “I will say that it has been one that I’ve been working on for five years.”
Days later, it’s announced that Elliot Page has joined Backspot as an executive producer. The film will be the debut feature for Page’s Page Boy Productions and Night is Y, which Jacobs launched with director D.W. Waterson as a queer, Indigenous-focused production company. In the film, Jacobs portrays Riley who navigates a new romance, competitive cheerleading and a cheer coach’s outdated ideas about being a queer woman in the spotlight.
Before we see Jacobs take her artistry to the next level, she reflected on season 2 of Reservation Dogs, her hopes for Elora and what it was like to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the Reservation Dogs season 2 finale, Elora, Cheese, Willie Jack and Bear have finally made it to California. By the time the episode ends, how does Elora feel about California?
I think by the time the finale happens, I think Elora sees California for a little more of the truth that it actually holds: the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Whereas before, I think a Elora definitely idealized the place and it more so represented somewhere else outside of Okern, somewhere outside of the place that she grew up that she was just desperately trying to run away from and towards a fantasy that she had about California based on everything that Daniel had said. But I think towards the end of the finale, she's a little more ready to head back to her home and to be rid of the city that took all her money, her car and Daniel’s letter— she ended up sleeping in a tent with a white guy who looks like Jesus. I think that she's had enough of California.
What hopes do you have for Elora in season 3?
I hope that Elora finds happiness. So much of season one was Elora dealing with the aftershock of the suicide of Daniel and so much of season two was Elora healing through that pain, experiencing loss and death in the right way and the way that we all aspire to pass on, like how Mabel did. I hope that Elora gets to experience some more lighthearted aspects of life that she hasn't gotten to experience yet in the show.
Do you think Mabel’s passing helped Elora dealing with her grief over Daniel?
Absolutely. I think it helped Elora’s grief in dealing with Daniel, and also healing through the death from her mom. All of Elora's experiences with death have been where people who she loved were taken too soon whether that was her mom when she was three who died from a drunk driving accident or whether that was Daniel who died by suicide. For Elora, getting to see Mabel pass of old age surrounded by community was definitely the experience that Elora needed to see.
You co-wrote that episode, “Mabel.” What was it like writing the script?
My top priority was capturing the feeling of indigenous communities around times of death because there's a really specific warmth and texture to it that I felt really passionate about and compelled to write from. I come from a really large, bustling family on both sides of my family. My mom is also my reservation’s florist, like my community florist, which means we prepare for a lot of birthdays. We also prepare for a lot of deaths. And so just being witness to so many deaths in my community and how we navigate it was something that I've never seen on screen before. I was actually surprised going to a non-native Western funeral because of how similar it was to the movies where everybody's in black and everybody's somber.
I had pulled from experiences that I'd had with family members who have passed, but I think the guiding relationship with the grandmother was Sterling's with his grandma in his life. And so that was definitely something that made the episode especially personal to him.
Has playing Elora had an impact on you? You’ve said before that the two of you are fairly different.
Yeah, I think so. I think I'm definitely much more soft spoken than Elora is. I think Elora is a bit spunkier and moodier than I am. But playing a character with such strength, I feel like I've also been given permission to lean into that type of strength in my own life, which I wouldn't have been brave enough to do before.
In your interview with Teen Vogue you mentioned that you were bullied growing up for wanting to be an actor. What about acting, even as a kid, was so compelling that you stuck with it?
I would watch movies and TV shows endlessly. I would play a VHS on the TV and then would stop it and rewind it and play it over immediately. There was just an element of getting lost in stories that I loved and getting to be a part of it, whether it was creative writing, whether it was acting in like summer theater camps at the Turtle Island Theatre Company on my rez, I was always really interested in performing. I also come from a fairly artistic family of singers and performers, and while I don't have that kind of talent, I definitely went towards more of the dramatic route.
There's a sense of safety in being able to try on different personas and different characters. And there's definitely pieces of myself— even in my queerness— of being able to try on a different character's clothes and what it's like to walk around the world as that character and there's a sense of safety in that. But then it also leads towards finding what actually resonates and self discovery within that. I'm very much unlike many characters that I've played, but I’ve also found hidden glimpses of myself in the corners of these characters that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn't played them.
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We’ll see you next year on Disney Plus in Echo. What's it like to lead a Marvel production?
It was wild. I come from the indie film space originally and even shooting Reservation Dogs, we shoot every episode in four days. And so I'm used to run-and-gun, guerilla-style filmmaking. And so to shoot on a production as prestigious as Marvel and to really get to see the scope of what having a full crew feels like, it took my breath away. Every time I was on set and got to be a part of it, it was really impressive. I don't think it fully hit me what we were doing because I went straight from production of season 3 of Reservation Dogs into Echo. I packed my bags and brought them from one state to another without even getting to stop in at home. And so it wasn't until going to D23 when we had just wrapped a week beforehand and getting to see a crowd of 7,000 people and to see the impact of what it actually means for having worked on it— I didn't realize until that moment just how huge it would be.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Photo by Ryan Pfluger