Casting calls are now underway for a motion picture based on the life of Mary Frances Thompson, who is best known by her stage name, Te Ata.

Filming will begin this fall on “Te Ata,” a feature film telling the story of the Chickasaw storyteller who earned international fame presenting a unique one woman show of American Indian heritage and culture to audiences across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said the tribe is producing the film to preserve Te Ata’s legacy.

“Te Ata stands as a shining example of how artistic expression can change hearts and minds in a way that helps bring diverse cultures together. She brought the beauty and wisdom of Native American culture to the world in a way that helped develop greater appreciation for core values such as basic human kindness and respect for the natural world,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We believe film is a great way to tell our own story and preserve the legacy of Te Ata and other Chickasaws who have made a difference in the world.”

Thompson adopted the name Te Ata, which means “bearer of the dawn” in the infancy of her career in the 1920s.
Named Woman of the Year by the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1976, Te Ata entertained nationally and internationally, performing for audiences of schoolchildren, presidents, kings and heads of state.

Inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame in 1990, she was awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award in 1975 and declared Oklahoma’s first “State Treasure” in 1987.
Directed by Nathan Frankowski, filming for “Te Ata” will begin in September. Filming will take place at numerous Oklahoma locations, including Tishomingo and several other locations within the Chickasaw Nation, as well as sites in Guthrie and Oklahoma City.

A nationwide search for Native American cast members was launched in Dallas June 14, with stops in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Ada, Okla., and upcoming dates in Albuquerque July 12; and Tulsa Aug. 2.

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