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Best Known for: Pocahontas
Irene Bedard is an American actress, who has played many Native American characters in a variety of films. She is perhaps best known for the role of Suzy Song in the 1998 film Smoke Signals, an adaptation from a Sherman Alexie collection of short stories, as well as for providing the speaking voice and being the physical model for the title character in the 1995 animated film Pocahontas.
Bedard was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and is of Inuit and Cree ancestry. Her first role was as Mary Crow Dog in the 1994 television production, Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee, which depicted the 1970s standoff between the US government and citizens of several Native nations, including many of the Pine Ridge Reservation, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. She is probably best known as the voice of the eponymous heroine in the 1995 Disney animated film Pocahontas, the direct-to-video 1998 sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, and in the 2018 film Ralph Breaks the Internet. Bedard was also the physical model for the character. She appeared in a different take of the story in Terence Malick’s 2005 film The New World, as Pocahontas’s mother, Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske.
Bedard graduated from A.J. Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska in 1985. Bedard attended The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she studied Musical Theatre. In 2005, she was cast in the television mini-series Into the West as Margaret “Light Shines” Wheeler In the 2017 music video for “Family Feud” (a song by Jay-Z), she plays a Co-President of the United States in the future.
She was chosen in 1995 as one of People magazine’s ’50 Most Beautiful People’.