Oral Histories

Interview of Valerie Red-Horse Mohl

Screenwriter, filmmaker, entrepreneur, financier, promotional speaker, and philanthropist of Cherokee and English descent.
American Indian Studies M200A Student Interviews
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
Screenwriter, filmmaker, entrepreneur, financier, promotional speaker, and philanthropist of Cherokee and English descent.
Berdan Lozano, Jennifer
Red-Horse Mohl, Valerie
Persons Present:
Red-Horse Mohl and Berdan.
Place Conducted:
Huntington Beach, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jennifer Berdan; Ph.D., Education and Information Studies, UCLA.Students from M200A prepared for the interviews by reviewing relevant materials pertaining to the guidelines of the Center for Oral History Research and the parameters of the course.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Red-Horse Mohl was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
3.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series American Indian Studies M200A Student Interviews were done by master's students in American Indians Studies M200A. Each student conducted a life history with one person of Native ancestry. The first year the class was offered, the interviews focused on the narrators' work histories. In the second year of the class, the students conducted a more general life history.
Introduction-- Red-Horse Mohl’s family background--Her father’s history--Her father’s work in San Francisco--Her father’s involvement with political parties--Her father’s health and lifestyle--Her father’s families--Her mother’s background--The story of her parents’ relationship and marriage--On being raised by her mother--Reconnecting with her paternal siblings and the death of her father--Her mother’s family history--Cheerleading and other teenage activities--Her mother’s education--Her Fresno home--Tribal heritage--Her time at middle school--Navigating racial tensions--UCLA’s theatre program--Getting enrolled in her tribe--Working in the film industry--Forging relationships with other American Indians--Film production--More on tribal enrollment--Governmental authentication--How she officially became enrolled in her tribe-- Her identity and relationship with the community and tribe--More on her adolescent activities and interests--Academic strengths--Her initial inspiration for working in film--Her high school mentor--Teaching film--Her decision to attend UCLA-- Freshman year at UCLA--Metropolitan life--College cheerleading--On meeting her future husband--Her lasting impressions of UCLA--Childhood diet and healthy eating--College mentors--More on her college mentors, particularly Prof. Gary Gardner--Her education in the UCLA theatre program--Her inclination toward screen writing--Working as a waitress--How she got into finance.
Introduction--Red-Horse Mohl’s introduction to investment banking--Her first pregnancy-- Valerie and her husband start a business--The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and her second child--Responsibilities at the investment firm--Her frustration with typecasting in the film industry--Her successful screenplays--More on screenplays and script writing--Writing the film My Indian Summer and her dissatisfaction with the filming--Authenticity in Hollywood--Film industry learning experiences--More film industry learning experiences--Her work as an advocate for Native Americans in film--Red-Horse Mohl as the model for Disney’s Pocahontas--Her film production company--On writing her film Naturally Native--Her experience getting a small business loan as an American Indian woman--Art imitates life--Her epiphany regarding creative autonomy--Selection process and her experience with the Sundance film workshops--Her casino film project--Pitching Naturally Native--He educational non-profit--More on funding the Naturally Native film project--East Coast financing trip--Three life-changing phone calls--Filming Naturally Native--The technical versus the creative aspects of filming--Her mentor for film production--The Sundance screening--Her decision to reject offers from various film distributors and, instead, self-promote/distribute--Funding gaps for promotion--Touring the festival circuit--An invitation from the Norwegian Samis--Her move into cosmetics production--The nature of the independent film industry--The role of native music in her film--On showing her film in the prison system--More on the greater impact of her film for the Native American community--The history of her investment firm--Balancing work, family, and being bi-coastal--The crisis with the New York investment firm--Shutting down the New York firm--Her new California-based firm--Her annual summer mission trips--On joining the lecture circuit--Her current role as a public speaker.
Session introduction--More on Red-Horse Mohl’s speaking engagements--Lack of Native American governmental information--Her keynote speech at Iowa State--Her philanthropy and mission work and the White Earth tribe--Working with the White Earth tribe--Lack of resources and amenities in the White Earth community--Organizing for the White Earth tribe--Funding her mission trips--Mission logistics--Helping Native American women overcome addiction through dance and Bible study--On being a Native American spokesperson--Her future philanthropic goals--Her plans to write a memoir--Her children and their accomplishments and activities--Her children’s tribal enrollment status--Her affiliation with the Texas band of Cherokee Indians--Her election to tribal council membership--Her relationship with her grandmother’s tribe--Closing thoughts.