Star Roger Willie Visits UNCP
Allen C. Meadors (left) with Roger Willie
Every year Roger
Willie returns to Pembroke with his family for Lumbee Homecoming. But
this time, things will be a little different.
Willie's a movie
A lead actor in
the current release, "Windtalkers," Willie is visiting his
family and his alma mater, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
He graduated with a degree in American Indian studies in 1995.
With Hollywood style
and sunglasses, Willie stayed cool despite the 100-degree heat.
Willie spoke about
his newfound fame and his time at UNCP to a group of family, friends
and supporters of the university at a luncheon held at the residence
of Chancellor and Mrs. Allen C. Meadors on July 5.
"It's not up
to me," Willie said, talking about how as a novice actor, he landed
a lead role in a big-budget film. "It's the people around me who
are going to decide where I go."
event for example," he said. "I didn't plan it. If everyone
walked away, I would be nothing, nobody."
Dr. Meadors was
excited about hosting Willie and guests at his home.
"We are extremely
proud of Roger both as a person and artist," Dr. Meadors said.
"He has demonstrated what can be accomplished when you are prepared
to take advantage of the opportunities that come to you in life. He
is an excellent example for all us."
Willie joked, signed
autographs and patiently posed for pictures in the midday heat.
was the perfect opportunity to contribute to the visibility of Native
American culture, he said.
is an incredibly educational tool," he said. "It's like all
my life's training was preparing me for Windtalkers."
In the movie, Willie
plays Marine Private Charlie Whitehorse, a Navajo code talker who must
translate commands during battle in World War II. In reality, Willie
is a Navajo from Continental Divide, N.M., and knows the Dine language
used in the codes.
Actors had to undergo
Marine basic training to acquaint themselves with military rituals and
terminology, and to help make their performances more believable. Military
training was nothing new to Willie, who had spent four years in the
Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Willie resides in
Tuscon, Ariz., and is currently working full-time on his master's degree
in American Indian studies at the University of Arizona. He is married
to Sissy Carter of Pembroke, and they have two children.
If his movie career
stalls, Willie said he might teach at the university level. "If
I never act again, I can walk away and I'd be happy," he said.
"I can always be focused on my education."
to University Newswire