Natalie Benally

Natalie Benally is born into the Grey Streaked Ends Clan and born for the Red Running into Water Clan. Her Maternal Grandparents are the Zuni Pueblo Clan and her Paternal Grandparents are the Water’s Edge Clan. Growing up on the Navajo Reservation, Natalie had an immense love for the Arts. However, the lack of performing arts programming on the reservation led Natalie to take the learning into her own hands. She began teaching herself dance by going out on the ancestral lands of her home and dancing amongst nature. The land became her first dance studio as she infused her cultural connection and storytelling into her movements. She then spent much of her youth learning different dance styles such as Hip-Hop, Popping, House, etc. by watching popular music videos and movies. After many years of self-training, Natalie graduated from Wingate High School in 2006 and enrolled at Fort Lewis College as a Theater major. 
     For the next four years, she dived into training in acting, singing, dancing and writing. In 2010, She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre – Performing and Directing and became a first generation college graduate in her family. She then returned to her home community and started an after-school dance club at her former high school. It was this experience that inspired her to return to Fort Lewis College in Fall 2013 to pursue a degree in secondary drama education. After completing her teaching degree, Natalie spent time as a principal dancer in a Native contemporary dance company where she toured locally, nationally and internationally. Aside from performing, she also taught outreach workshops for Native youth in city and reservation communities. In 2018, She directed/choreographed the production I’m Native And… for Fort Lewis College’s inaugural Indigenous Arts Festival, which was then performed at the Los Angeles Kennedy Center for the Arts’ Regional College Theater Festival.
     In 2016, Natalie performed the lead role of Dory in the Navajo dubbed version of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo. This led her to pursue more work in the film and television industry, both on and off camera. Natalie has appeared as an actor in the AMC series Dark Winds and in a lead role for the FOX/Hulu anthology series ACCUSED. She will appear in the second season of Dark Winds and also recently filmed for the Netflix film Rez Ball, set to premiere in 2024. She was also the Art Director for the film Frybread Face and Me, where she helped design the set for the Diné (Navajo) specific storyline. Natalie is the co-founder of a mixed media storytelling company, TséNató, which aims to share stories of the Native experience through dance, theater, film and television. Natalie has written and directed several film projects, including two dance film narratives and a short film, Mother’s Day, which explores the theme of single parenthood. Her company is gearing up to premiere its first full-length documentary Indigenize the Plate on PBS in Fall 2023. Natalie is also the film’s Host and Executive Producer.