What Sivan Alyra Rose Hopes 'Chambers' Can Reveal About Cultural Appropriation

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When celebrities hang out with Bustle writers, we want to give them the chance to leave their mark. Literally. So we hand them a pen, a piece of paper, a few questions, and ask them to get creative. This time, Chambers star Sivan Alyra Rose is leaving her mark in the Bustle Booth.

As Netflix's first Native American female lead, Chambers star Sivan Alyra Rose is ready to represent. On this day, that sentiment extends all the way to her clothing. "I'm trying to bring indigenous haute couture to the forefront," the Apache/Puerto Rican actor says of the multicolored patterned dress she wears to the Bustle office. It's designed by Korina Emmerich, who uses her own Native American background as inspiration in her work.

On Netflix's horror thriller Chambers, Rose plays Sasha, a Native American high schooler and heart attack survivor who receives a heart transplant. Things start getting creepy as soon as the now-deceased donor's parents, played by Tony Goldwyn and Uma Thurman, enter the picture. They want to help the the girl who has their daughter Becky's heart, but something seems off about their love of crystals and New Age cleansing ceremonies. Their cultural appropriation of spirituality is not just offensive but also sinister — "tokens stolen from a spirituality that was wiped out intentionally," Rose says. It's an idea that the show plays with throughout its first season.

Playing a Native American character encountering upper-middle class white people latching on to parts of her own culture was nothing new for Rose. "I've met white people who waved around sage and crystals in front of me my whole life," she says. Chambers reveals how the appropriation of indigenous culture in America is so ingrained, many people don't even know they're doing it.

"Every second words come out of people's mouths that they don't register as insensitive or racist," Rose says, noting the popularization of phrases like "spirit animal." "After the genocide we made sure Native Americans weren't represented politically, socially, economically."

At the same time, though they come from vastly different backgrounds, Sasha and Becky have more in common than just a heart, and they share a lot of the same interests. And the idea that Sasha could actually be similar to someone as "normal" as Becky is revolutionary in its own way.

"What I want people to take away from Sasha is just an honest representation of a brown girl," Rose says. "This contemporary indigenous girl being a teenager, being herself. I wanted her to be the teenager that I wish I was in high school. So I took time to curate and make sure she's gentle, and so nice, and so sweet."

Thinking about how other indigenous girls can see themselves in Sasha on screen makes Rose want to cry. "I wasn't represented anywhere," she says, noting that she was bullied for her background growing up. With Chambers, that's finally changing. Get to know Rose by checking out her answers to our Bustle Booth questionnaire below.

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