Irene Bedard was born on July 22, 1967 in Anchorage, Alaska and is of Inupiat, Inuit and Métis ancestry. Her first role was as Mary Crow Dog in the television production Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee, which depicted the 1970s standoff between police and Native Americans at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Bedard has played many Native American characters in a variety of films. She is perhaps best known for the role of Suzy Song in the film adaptation of Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals as well as for providing the voice of the title character in the animated film Pocahontas, and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. Bedard was also the physical model for the character. She appeared in a different take of the story in the 2005 film The New World, as Pocahontas’ mother whose name was Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske.
She was one of the ‘50 Most Beautiful People’ listed by People magazine in 1995. Despite many struggles in her personal life and limited avenues to reach the silver screen, it is impressive how well Irene’s career has shaped up. She always brings about an element of power in her emotional depictions, portraying them as strengths and not as weaknesses. As an extension of her efforts to showcase the thriving Native American community, she started two production companies, namely, ‘Sleeping Lady Films’ and ‘Waking Giants Productions,’ dedicated toward bringing out inspirational stories from the Native American community.