Reservation Dogs' Sarah Podemski On Her Long Association With Taika Waititi - Exclusive

Sarah Podemski is a familiar face to viewers of both FX comedy "Reservation Dogs" and Syfy's "Resident Alien." On the former, she plays Rita, mother of Bear, one of four Native American teenagers coming of age on an Oklahoma reservation. On the latter, she's known for her role as Kayla, cousin of Asta (Sara Tomko), in the series about a shapeshifting extraterrestrial (Alan Tudyk) who takes on human form and assumes the identity of Dr. Harry Vanderspiegle.

As her IMDb credits indicate, these are just the latest roles in a long and distinguished acting career, which first blossomed in her native Canada before coming to include performances in such TV series as Netflix's "Between," The CW's "Coroner," and Prime Video drama "Tin Star," in which she appeared opposite British actor Tim Roth.

In an exclusive interview with The List, Sarah Podemski opened up about her relationship with "Reservation Dogs" producer Taika Waititi, whom she's known for far longer than viewers might realize.

Sarah Podemski met Taika Waititi via the Sundance Film Festival

In "Reservation Dogs," Sarah Podemski has the opportunity to work with acclaimed writer/director/actor Taika Waititi, one of the series' executive producers. According to Podemski, she and Waititi were part of "a close-knit group of Indigenous filmmakers that have been part of the Sundance Film Festival ... hustling to get their work done." She explained, "That's where I met Taika. It's been incredible to be able to see his work over the years and then slowly see his star rise."

Working within this "really tight-knit community of Indigenous filmmakers, actors, writers, [and] directors," she said, saw them "all fighting for the same thing, which was representation, getting Native people in the room to tell their own stories." She continued, "It's been incredible being able to go through this with some of the similar faces and personalities over the last 15 years. It's been amazing to see everybody rise and get incredible opportunities and now be able to work together. I feel really lucky that we've been able to all come up together. [Taika], obviously, he's come up to a different level than I'm at."

Taika Waititi brings his clout to Reservation Dogs

Taika Waititi is known for directing such Marvel blockbusters as "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Thor: Love and Thunder," along with the Oscar-winning "Jojo Rabbit." As Sarah Podemski explained, Waititi brought his clout as a Hollywood hitmaker to his role as executive producer of "Reservation Dogs": "The success that came for Taika gave him the opportunity to elevate other Indigenous voices, and he did that with this show. ... Having someone like Taika, it's been huge, and what he's been able to do to elevate this show is really incredible."

Waititi "also knew and trusted that we had the talent to do it," Podemski pointed out. "Sometimes it's hard to convince funders or networks or streamers ... to trust people who may not have the track record yet, which is a real barrier to access. Now that we have all of these shows that are coming out with Native writers in the writers room, Native directors directing, it finally feels like we've proven what we've known all along: that we have so much talent in this community. People are finally acknowledging that, which feels really validating."

Season 2 of "Reservation Dogs" premieres on August 3 on Hulu; the second half of Season 2 of "Resident Alien" will debut on August 10 on Syfy.