Why Aminah Nieves Felt She Needed to Take 1923 Role

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1923 Star Aminah Nieves Tears Up Over Importance of Playing Teonna

For Aminah Nieves, 1923 was far more than just another job.

The actress plays Teonna Rainwater, a Native American woman at a Catholic boarding school in Montana, on the Yellowstone prequel series—but as Aminah explained exclusively to E! News, she came very close to ignoring the project altogether. 

“I didn’t want to do it,” Aminah revealed. “I actually told my manager that I wasn’t going to audition for it. It’s a big burden and you’re opening up a lot more when you’re actually living in what your family lived through.”

The 31-year-old acknowledged that the abuses and atrocities faced by generations of Native Americans, which are brutally featured on 1923, made it possible for her to pursue her own dreams.

“Because of their strength and because of what they did for us,” Aminah said, “I didn’t have to live through that in the same exact way that they did.”

She eventually made the decision to audition—and she consulted her family for guidance.

“I was speaking with my Mom a lot,” Aminah said. “I almost didn’t feel worthy enough to tell this story because it’s so important. It’s scary when you’re telling something that has been a part of you since you were just a thought, since you were a little light beam in the cosmos. It’s terrifying.”

As she become entrenched in the arduous audition process, she leaned on that familial support system to push her through—ultimately serving as her greatest source of inspiration.

“After the third self-tape, I couldn’t not do it. I could not get that third self-tape. I couldn’t get through it,” she explained. “I was bawling. I was like, I need to do it, not only for me, but I looked at my Mom on the other side and I was like, ‘I gotta do it for her.'”

James Minchin III/Paramount+

The first episode of 1923 is available to stream now on Paramount+, with new episodes premiering Sundays beginning Jan. 1.

–Reporting by Adam Havener

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