If you were to do a Google search for "Native American Man", Rick Mora's face is literally the first image you would see. He has starred in numerous modeling campaigns, graced the cover of 18 romance novels, and has appeared in multiple movies; including the role of Ephraim Black, the original werewolf from the Twilight saga. Add in time promoting his book Codex of Awakening and co-hosting LA Talk Radio: Combat Radio, and Rick could easily be described as one of the most successful Native Americans in show business.
Sequoia Emmanuelle Photography
Rick begins the story of his journey with a humble tone about a modest beginning -
Planted in the womb of my mother, a seed from the Sun. Birthed in a field of corn called Los Angeles but raised on 100 acre cattle farm in Crescent City, California. Born Yaqui and Apache of Mexican Indian descent, a native man raised from the land with no electricity, no plumbing, a wood burning stove and mother who possessed the powers of mother earth.
Q. Your tone when you reflect upon your mother seems almost reverent. Can you tell us a bit more about her and how she helped shape the man you are today?
My mother…. Where do I start.. Powerful, Intelligent, Committed, Passionate. My mother had me when she was 15 and decided this unplanned pregnancy would be the bridge to a new life with incredible expectations. She is a survivor of all of life’s unplanned experiences, a role model to 2 sons, and has dedicated her life to helping other survivors of life’s challenges.
Just this description alone is the very essence of what has made me the man I am today.
I LOVE YOU MOM!!
Photo courtesy of Sita Mae
Q. You mentioned that you have a BA from CSU; what is your degree in and how did you become interested in that subject? Did you find the transition difficult?
I have a BA Degree in Speech Communication from California State University, Northridge. I would have to say that when I chose this this specific area of study, I had no idea I would have ended up in the career I have chosen. The art of communication is the very essence of my career and who I am.
Going to college was always my plan. I was in excelled learning courses and Jr. College tutorial classes since elementary school because I scored high on academic testing. College was my ticket to see what was out there in the world.
I was excited to go to college from the very first minute I was accepted. I moved into the dorms, studied hard and never went home again. College was a right of passage.
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Q. Clearly, your journey has meant a great deal to you. You even wrote a book on the subject. It seems society is increasingly critical regarding topics of Spirituality. What changes do you imagine the world would affect if more people were open to learning about these subjects without prejudgement?
This is a very special question to me. I have been a student so long and have been guided by some of the most influential voices of my time. There is a place with all people of the world with regard to spirit and its conversation. There are many who speak the native tongue who walk without proper native guidance. Those send a vision that sheds commercial abuse of historical information calling it wisdom. Wisdom is the beautiful conversations shared by Elders. The stories of our people handed down from generation to generation and what decision brought life or death. There is a stereotype created by the conversation and I think the commercial freedom that some think they are allowed to share are the conversations you may not need to hear.
If the world spent a fraction of the time they spend on the internet learning about the ability to grow spiritually it would change the productivity of their energy and impact their path in life. It changed mine!
Prejudgement?? When you surrender to Creator, this word has no power or meaning.
Q. Many of your films have involved horror or supernatural beings - Is this genre a personal favorite?
What is personal to me is being a working actor!!
I have been embraced by a fanbase that has definitely put me in a niche market of films. Twilight is still a very powerful empire that continues to give me strength and opportunity. The fact that I am able to make westerns for the bread and butter is the icing on the cake. I really enjoy making horror/action films but am totally receptive to any offers for the romantic drama or comedy.
Courtesy of Gregory Prescott
Q. A glance at your Facebook page shows many of your fans are very vocal in the appreciation of your appearance. Do you feel there is a double standard regarding objectifying celebrity men vs women?
I feel in the past there may have been an extreme imbalance but today I see men and women have been fair game and pretty equally exploited. The amount of men may not compete with the amount of women but that's only based on the way our society has been product / advertisement driven to an extreme level and statistics show women do most of the purchasing.
Let it be said ...I have no problem with women objectifying me!
Q. You have a huge presence in romance literature. Do you consider yourself a romantic? What are your thoughts on modern trends for romance in America?
I have been blessed to score 18 romance novel covers over the past year and it looks like they do not stop coming. Do I consider myself a romantic… I AM A HOPELESS ROMANTIC. Things do not work out the best for me because of my career choice. So at this point I ask Creator everyday for him to bless with romance.
I find dating in America varies if you are in Nebraska vs. NYC vs. Hollywood. The requirement to dating are different across the board but one principle remains consistent.. You gotta pay to play and the best results still come from meeting in person and being a gentleman with respect for the woman. The internet cannot replace true face to face courting.
Hot Damn Productions
Q. Has your public image become a barrier in the field of romance? Having people see your depth and not simply your physical appearance and/or celebrity?
Objectification in any form is unhealthy and would definitely have a negative affect on romance. Relationships these days are often developed from unrealistic social pressures based around physical appearance, money, and social status.
Now for me, its a whole different beast. Relationship for me has proved very complicated because of the depth that accompanies the physical appearance business I have chosen and the celebrity that results. Many in the past become intimidated by the level of personal attention, travel requirements and publicity.
That is a nice way to say I am still single but I am at peace with myself and know the right one will come when its time.
Photos courtesy of Matt Sanders and Carlos Reynosa
Q. You are involved in many environmental and humanitarian causes. I was interested to read about your work with the Red Crystal Gala. I admit I knew nothing about the E. Joyce Thompson Charity and I was extremely saddened to read the statistics regarding domestic abuse and violence against Native American women. Obviously, every situation is unique, but do you think abuse victims on tribal reservations face challenges that are different from the general population?
I must first establish that I did not grow up on the Rez, I grew up on a 100 acre cattle farm but my knowledge comes from surviving the story of abuse and all the damage it creates for a lifetime of healing.
I was attracted to Red Crystal Gala because I am a survivor of the story that many people share on and off the Rez. Unfortunately, because of sovereign law, abuse on the Rez falls on deaf ears. The cycle of abuse extends into many different areas of the person that contributes to the cycle of abuse.
So, yes I do feel those on the Rez face incredible challenges that are different from general population. Especially when children are involved.
Education and support for woman’s rights are a PRIORITY.
Q. For most Americans, reservation life is a complete mystery. Do you think that separation has more pros or cons? How would you describe some of the differences in life on and off of reservations?
Once again, I did not grow up on the Rez but I do have a perspective because of my access to those raised on the Rez vs. farm raised. I came to learn that there are many different tribes on many different lands with many different agreements with the government or not… The distinction between being federally recognized or being recognized.
Rez life is so very different for every tribe and mysteries vary from the poorest state in the country Pine Ridge, South Dakota vs wealthy casino owners like Pacanga. There definitely is an imbalance in the support level each tribe contributes to each other.
Pros are that the wealthy tribes take very good care of their people, Cons are everyone else is on their own. The Cons are there is a lack of healthy balance from a culture that has survived a genocide but struggle to survive each other.
Leaving the Rez is a personal choice to seek out opportunity that is available to everyone. Its going to be hard work but life is harder to survive when you choose to do nothing to fulfill the path Creator has given each of us.
Rick at the Red Crystal Gala
Q. You stated that different tribes face different issues, does that make it difficult to unite for similar purposes? Each group may have their own set of priorities?
There is no one mission in Indian country. There is now a value placed on each other's land which creates an imbalance in wealth and stutus amongst sovereignty. No one is helping those in need and there are many. Drug abuse, teen suicide, Pine Ridge, and AIDS is destroying Indian country.
Its a bigger problem than what people realize.
Q. There has also been a lot of debate lately on appropriation vs. appreciation of Native American culture. What are your thoughts on people outside of the Indigenous community using imagery and symbols in ways other than their traditional usage?
This is a very sensitive topic amongst my community. Looking at it pragmatic, people who want to identify with any culture must adhere to common morality consideration. Look at what happen to the woman who was president of NAACP chapter but was pretending to be African American.
As a culture we have come beyond defamation of Blacks, Asians, Middle Eastern people, yet there seems to be a turned cheek when it comes to the Native Community. We have a beautiful presence and an incredible history that is fascinating to the world but at what point do we draw the line? I cant say I have the answer to this question.
I do know I will always walk my path representing who I am and I will educate those who do not understand where to draw the line with regard to respect and honor.
Photos courtesy of Carlos Reynosa and Johnny Rozsa
Q. There has been a lot of public support recently for Hollywood to open character casting for more ethnicities. Do you think the tide is turning or do you foresee this remaining an issue for some time?
Hollywood is a well oiled machine. It opens its doors to very few. Even less to those born of color.
Native Americans were not even represented on the statistics of cultural representation article in the screen actors guild magazine which reported all ethnicities but ours with Pacific Islanders at 3%??
I dont have answers for this other than I have to work very hard to make my place relevant to this industry. Always doing my best to impact the native stereotype and represent my community with honor and respect. People often criticize the many jobs we take without understanding the terms of our contracts and the amount of information we are given to consider.
The best way for this industry to change is to produce more content utilizing Native themed content and content that includes native talent as an equal casting choice alongside all other ethnicities represented in Hollywood. We are now in an advanced stage of ethnic diversity and Indigenous Americans deserve to be represented equally.
Photos courtesy of Mihio Manus and David Gueringer
Q. This has been a big year for you in terms of movie projects. Do you see yourself moving more in the direction of acting? Or will you try to continue balancing a variety of projects?
This has been a wonderful year for my movie projects… I have truly been blessed considering all the movies were shot at different times in previous years. I know it seems that I am a man divided but truth be told, I am an actor first.
I have had a 20 year investment in my craft and it is now starting to mature and develop in a beautiful way. I am always going to make film and television the priority in my life.
It is the blessing that has allowed me to experience the world.
You can learn more about Rick's projects and find links to his social media accounts on his website and we are including previews for his latest films at the end of this post.
Author's Note -
For those who do not know, the highlighted text in this post links to additional information on the topics included. Though Rick speaks with nothing but gratitude regarding his life, our conversation has to leave you wondering about much larger issues.
Why is there no effort to showcase successful Native Americans? Why are the majority of roles limited to stereotypical or historical depictions of the First Americans? How is it with so few roles available, they are being predominantly cast to be played by white actors?
In researching the causes Rick is involved with, my heart bled when reading statistics pertaining to reports of violence in and against the Native American community. In a world obsessed with discussing true crime, why are these events not being shared by major media outlets?
As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section below. We also invite you to share Rick's story to highlight his success and the causes he holds close to his heart.
Main photo courtesy of Designer Original Magazine