Wenonah Wilms is an overnight success, if by "overnight success" you mean that it took two decades.
Wilms has been announced as co-writer of the pilot for "Firekeeper's Daughter," a murder mystery with a bunch of heavy hitters involved. The series will adapt the upcoming young adult novel by buzzed-about Ojibwe writer Angeline Boulley. It's for Netflix. And it's produced under the Higher Ground banner of Barack and Michelle Obama, whose production "American Factory" won an Oscar last year for best documentary.
The Minneapolis native, a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, has not met the former White House residents yet. With several short films under her belt, Wilms was pitching a project to Netflix when execs mentioned "Firekeeper's Daughter," which seemed like a good fit since its title character is both Native and white (Wilms also is part white as well as part Dakota).
"She struggles with her identity and how she fits in both worlds, and that's the cool part of the book," said Wilms. "She ultimately goes undercover, so being able to walk the lines in the two worlds is her superpower.
"Growing up, I never found books that had who I am as a main character. Never happened. So I definitely connected with the character."
The project has been in the works for a year but Wilms said they're buckling down now to get the pilot made and, hopefully, picked up.
Wilms has spent 20 years carving out space for herself in the Minnesota filmmaking community — winning awards such as a McKnight Media Artist Fellowship through FilmNorth and a Nicholl Fellowship through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, both in 2018 — so she said she's ready.
"I've been afraid to go to L.A. and give that a shot — I have kids and a dog — so being able to do it from Minnesota is my ultimate dream."
Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367 • @HewittStrib