ECHO – Director and Cast Members Explain the Importance of Native American Representation in the Series

"Echo" director Sydney Freeland and cast members Alaqua Cox, Devery Jacobs and Chaske Spencer speak about the importance of Native American representation.
Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios' Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel’s Echo debuts on Tuesday (Jan. 9) on Disney+, and The Illuminerdi has the lowdown from the show’s recent press conference on what fans can expect from the new TV-MA show. The series centers around an indigenous woman, Maya Lopez, who is also deaf, and the community she was born in. This means the representation of the cast members around Maya in the series was important.

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According to director Sydney Freeland and the Echo cast, representation was their top priority while creating the live-action miniseries.


One of the first things production did with the project was to engage with the Choctaw community. According to Freeland, it was important to engage with the community and to ask the Choctaw Nation on how the representation should be portrayed.

Courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

“I remember we came to present to you all at the Choctaw Center. For myself, there were two things. One was to ask permission from the Choctaw Nation to be portrayed because I feel like what happens with Native and Indigenous stories is that people come in and they say, “We’re gonna tell you what the story we’re gonna tell” and we wanted to take a different approach and engage you.”

-Sydney Freeland-

The second most important part for the director was the question of whether or not they were able to create a dialogue. They wanted everything to be authentic such as the Choctaw language, the culture and experience.

“People tend to jumble all Native American tribes and cultures into this one big kind of monolith and that’s not the case. Every tribe is different, every language is different, every culture has its own unique specifications.”

-Sydney Freeland-


For Alaqua Cox, she was proud to be able to represent a platform that was uplifting voices for indigenous people. Cox said about the series, “I think it’s so great that we have authentic people being picked for these roles. We’re doing it the right way and that’s what I think is the most important.”

According to Devery Jacobs, who plays Maya Lopez’s cousin, Bonnie, it’s important to make sure that there are as many storytellers from the community as possible. Jacobs stated, “There’s been a hundred years of lack of representation and misrepresentation and an intentional exclusion of indigenous voices in Hollywood.” She continued, “I think to have us be a part of these conversations is integral to making sure that we’re able to accurately tell our stories.”

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo, releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Chaske Spencer who plays Henry, spoke about a time when he was first starting out as an actor. According to Spencer, he was a struggling actor living in New York and it was a difficult time since there weren’t many indigenous roles that were written correctly. He is happy to see that there are more indigenous actors taking on roles now more than ever. Spencer stated:

“It makes me really proud to see that. I’ve always thought that the power is behind the camera and the stories that the indigenous writers write are more authentic and believable. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings and what we relate to is emotion. There is still a long road to go but right now, it’s a really phenomenal time for indigenous film because there’s a lot of talent out there.”

-Chaske Spencer-

Echo officially releases exclusively on Disney+ and Hulu on January 9, 2024. All five episodes will drop simultaneously on that day as well.


ECHO, releasing on Disney+ & Hulu. © 2023 MARVEL.

Release date: January 9, 2024 (USA)
Director: Sydney Freeland, Catriona McKenzie
Screenplay: Marion Dayre, Josh Feldman, Jason Gavin, Steven Judd, Ken Kristensen, Ellen Morton, Amy Rardin, Rebecca Roanhorse, Shoshannah Stern, Chantelle Wells, Bobby Wilson.
Producers: Kevin Feige, Richie Palmer, Amy Rardin, Brad Winderbaum, Etan Cohen.
Cinematography: Kira Kelly, Magdalena Gorka
Edited by: Joel Pashby, Amelia Allwarden
Music by: Mato Standing Soldier
Production: Marvel Studios
Distributed by: Disney+, Hulu
Cast: Alaqua Cox, Chaske Spencer, Tantoo Cardinal, Devery Jacobs, Zahn McClarnon, Cody Lightning, Graham Greene, Vincent D’Onofrio, Charlie Cox

Synopsis: Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. “Echo” stars Alaqua Cox (“Hawkeye”) as Maya Lopez, as well as Chaske Spencer (“Wild Indian,” “The English”), Tantoo Cardinal (“Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Stumptown”), Devery Jacobs (FX’s “Reservation Dogs,” “American Gods”), Zahn McClarnon (“Dark Winds,” FX’s “Reservation Dogs”) and Cody Lightning (“Hey, Viktor!” “Four Sheets to the Wind”), with Graham Greene (“1883,” “Goliath”) and Vincent D’Onofrio (“Hawkeye,” “Daredevil,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), who returns to the villainous role of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin.

What do you guys think about Echo? Are you excited for the upcoming series? What are you most looking forward to in the show? Are you planning to watch the series all in one sitting? Let us know and don’t forget to check out our socials! If you like this article, make sure to follow us for more content.

KEEP READING: ECHO: Vincent D’Onofrio Discusses the Father-Daughter Relationship with Alaqua Cox In Marvel’s First 2024 Series


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Stephanie Ramirez

A film/tv enthusiast who loves everything nerdy including: Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, Comics and Books.