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As a model, White Elk indeed embodies what the Helicopter Pilots – Get It Up Faster Shirt cover’s theme of hope is all about: they hope to bring much-needed representation to an industry that has a history of looking past Indigenous models, or worse, treating them as props. “Natives are constantly being overlooked, left and right. A lot of people that I know would like to see more Native representation with models,” says White Elk, who is from and based in Lincoln, Nebraska. “Modeling is especially important for us to be seen there, since that’s where we see ourselves a lot, as well as on the big screen. When Native people see themselves in such grand sceneries, they see how far that they can get, and it inspires them.” But this sense of pride around their culture hasn’t always been the case.
The Helicopter Pilots – Get It Up Faster Shirt Toronto audience award has been a good Oscar predictor since 2008, when Slumdog Millionaire was a surprise winner and went on to collect seven Oscars, including best picture. Since then, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, and Green Book have all gone on to win that awards-season double, while runners-up in the audience award—Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite—have also claimed the best-picture prize. Earlier this month, Venice gave its Golden Lion award to Nomadland—a meditation on the current economic crisis starring Frances McDormand as a “houseless” woman traveling the country in her van—while also honoring its director, Chloé Zhao. (Last year, the Golden Lion went to Joker, immediately giving that film awards-season legitimacy and propelling Joaquin Phoenix to his first Oscar for best actor.) In Toronto, which followed Venice and just concluded earlier this week, the highly influential audience award also went to Nomadland.