Speaker Sierra Teller Ornelas

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Sierra Teller Ornelas

Co-Creator, Showrunner, Writer and Executive Producer, Rutherford Falls

Sierra Ornelas is a Navajo and Mexican American creator, writer, producer and showrunner and has become a comedic force to be reckoned within the industry.

Sierra is the co-creator, showrunner, writer and executive producer of the new Peacock comedy series, RUTHERFORD FALLS. She is reuniting with Michael Schur to create the show alongside Ed Helms. She has had a successful writing career as a Co-Executive Producer on NBC’s SUPERSTORE as well as a Co-Executive Producer on ABC’s SPLITTING UP TOGETHER. Previously, she was a Producer on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE for FOX. She was also a Co-Producer on SELFIE for ABC, an Executive Story Editor on FOX’s SURVIVING JACK and a Story Editor on HAPPY ENDINGS for ABC. 

RUTHERFORD FALLS is set in a small town in the Northeast and follows two lifelong best friends, Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) and Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding), who find themselves at a crossroads–quite literally–when their sleepy town gets an unexpected wakeup call. Nathan is a descendant of the town’s founder who takes pride in his family’s history; and Reagan a member of the Minishonka Nation, who has dreams of championing her own history. From there, things get wonderfully complicated. The series arrived to Peacock on April 22. 

In bringing RUTHERFORD FALLS to life, it was essential for Sierra that the series not only accurately portray Native American people but also tap into their rich, often-unheralded comedy legacy, and shine a light on fresh and relevant Native comedy voices. The intention is to show Native Americans—through a mainstream comedy—as funny and real people with relatable, complex stories to tell; and in doing so, give indigenous actors the opportunity to shine, as the show so brilliantly does. Sierra also made it a priority to ensure that the representation she’s forging onscreen also be reflected off-screen, which meant building a writers’ room staffed with multiple Native writers, all of whom bring different points of view and comic sensibilities to the table. The result is a multidimensional view of indigenous culture very rarely seen on television today, and especially in comedies. 

Speaking on: TV for good: using the power of content to shift humanity

At the Banff Media Festival, we met with Netflix and took a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. That’s where we made the pitch.
- Naveen Prasad, EVP and GM, Elevation Pictures


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