Netflix's new series Chambers will make you question everything you see. But amid all the ghosts and jump scares, you'll be admiring the American Southwest location where Chambers was filmed. The show drops on April 26 and follows Sasha, a Native American high school student who lives in Arizona. She suffers a heart attack and receives a heart from Becky Lefevre — a recently deceased white teenager from the rich neighboring suburb of Crystal Valley. After that, Sasha's life becomes intertwined with the Lefevres, including Becky's dad Ben (Tony Goldwyn), mom Nancy (Uma Thurman), and brother Elliot (Nicholas Galitzine), and she spends the season balancing their world with her own Native American culture.
Sivan Alyra Rose, who stars as Sasha, is an Apache and Puerto Rican actress who hails from the Southwest herself. Rose has shared on social media how she is the first female Native American lead on Netflix, with Broadway World reporting that she grew up on the San Carlos Apache Reservation located in Arizona. While Chambers takes place in Rose's home state of Arizona, it actually was filmed in another southwestern state — New Mexico. As the Albuquerque Journal reported, production began in Albuquerque (New Mexico's largest city) in June 2018.
In a BUILD series interview, Thurman, Goldwyn, and Rose discussed what it was like filming in New Mexico. Goldwyn explained that "Chambers is a very purposeful, distinctive clash of two worlds," and that he was impressed by how the production team managed to capture these two Arizona communities in New Mexico.
"There's the world that Sasha is from, which is a disadvantaged area economically and it's mainly Native American and people struggle to get through life. And then there's the world that Uma and I live in, which is more like Sedona and very wealthy, affluent, the kids are terribly privileged," Goldwyn said. "So they really created two very distant environments ... even finding locations in the sort of red rocks area where you really feel that texture that is very Arizona that you wouldn't necessarily see on first visit to Albuquerque."
While TV viewers have seen many portrayals of affluent, white communities, what makes Chambers unique is the focus on Native American characters and culture. "I'm just happy to be seeing a contemporary Native American story cause it's usually Old West or it's an older time, it's a really outdated, stereotypical play," Rose said in the BUILD interview. "So I'm just really excited to see Native Americans in 2019 being their complete selves."
Rose has said on social media that she's "honored and humbled" to be portraying a Native American character on TV. And in an Instagram post from March 25, the 19-year-old actor explained how grateful she was for the support of the community she grew up in. "The love and support I've received from the community of San Carlos Apache Reservation warms my soul and dries the tears in my eyes," she wrote. "This was never just for me, it's for everyone. I only wish to see all the beautiful brown first peoples of North America feel validated and respected on their own lands." She also discussed what a positive experience she had when it came to the representation of indigenous people on the set of Chambers in a recent Twitter Q&A.
The actor who portrays Sasha's Uncle Frank, Marcus LaVoi, also spoke positively of the show's "cultural awareness" in an interview with TV Fanatic. "I was honored to be a part of something where Native American culture was respected and honored and showed in a positive light. I was real proud of that, to be a part of that," LaVoi, who grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, said. "It wasn't stereotypical Native Americans. They really brought in elders and people who truly know the background of Native American and they were pretty exact. They were really accurate on clothing and hairstyles and language, and they really studied the backgrounds, and I was really impressed by that."
As Rose said in the interview with BUILD, "I'm from the Southwest, so it's like my home. I know it as well as I know myself." And by Chambers respecting authenticity when it came not only to its filming locations, but its casting, you can go into this supernatural thriller feeling confident that its representation of Native Americans is based in reality — even if its premise isn't.