20th Century Studios: The New Mutants | Meet Dani Moonstar

'A process of reconnecting': Young Lakota actor finds ways to stay tied to tribal culture

For a few months when she was young, Blu Hunt’s grandmother lived with her and her father in Sacramento, California.

Her father and grandmother didn’t always get along, and Hunt rarely saw her grandmother, who lived on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation.

But for those few months that her grandmother lived with them, she taught Hunt about the culture of her people, the Oglala Lakota.

“She would speak to me in Lakota,” Hunt said. “It was a time I got to know her the most.”

View this post on Instagram

Hey everyone ! If you have the time or money to spare, please support @wikoskalaka_healing , an amazing healing camp that uses traditional Lakota teachings to help young native women strengthen their cultural identity and also heal from historical traumas. I spent part of my summer last year at the camp and I hope to come back again this summer. It’s hard to say what the future will hold and when the camp will be able to take place, but we still need help raising the funds to make this happen. The camp relies solely on fundraising. Please buy a shirt if you can or just donate ❤️ Let me know if you do, I’d love to thank you personally. (Share this too if you’d like! Anything helps) Link in bio ! Philámayaye 🌻

A post shared by blu (@bluhunt) on

Today, the 25-year-old woman is an actress, and her first full-length film, “The New Mutants,” opened in theaters across America on Friday. In the new Marvel movie, Hunt plays Dani Moonstar, a young Cheyenne woman who is seeking to understand her powers while surrounded by young people like her.

Directed by Josh Boone, the film is about four young mutants being held in an isolated hospital for psychiatric monitoring.

Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga) struggles to teach them to rein in their mutant abilities, but when Moonstar is admitted into the hospital, strange occurrences begin to take place. The patients are plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, and their abilities and friendships are tested as they fight to make it out alive.

The storyline is taken from the Demon Bear saga featured in “The New Mutants” comic book and revolves around Moonstar confronting her demons, figuratively and literally, while the rest of the patients fight to survive and save Moonstar’s life.

Blu Hunt as Danielle Moonstar in 20th Century Studios’ THE NEW MUTANTS. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

In “The New Mutants,” Hunt’s character is the sole survivor of a mysterious disaster that decimated her people's reservation. She doesn’t understand her powers, which threaten her and those around her, and her arrival brings strange visions and nightmares to life for the other residents.

The film features a cast of up-and-coming actors and actresses, including Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones” fame and Anya Taylor-Joy from “The Witch,” “Split” and “Glass.” Williams plays Rahne Sinclair, a religious Scot who transforms into the Wolfsbane, and Taylor-Joy embodies the Illyana Rasputin/Magik, who exists on the boundaries of good and evil, innocence and corruption.

The film also features Charlie Heaton of the television series “Stranger Things,” whose character Cannonball has the ability to project himself through the air at incredibly fast speeds.

Hunt appeared in the CW horror fantasy series “The Originals.” She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, where she starred as Vera in the play “A Month in the Country.” Since filming ended for “The New Mutants,” Hunt has starred in the Netflix series “Another Life” and recently appeared on the ABC hit series “Stumptown.”

She is currently set to star in the film “Fathers & Prophets,” based on the Dave Eggers novel, which is slated to start production later this year.

In an interview with Indianz.Com, Hunt said she prepared for the role of Moonstar with an acting coach, who worked with her on dialogue and put her through what she described as “crazy physical training.”

She said her work on “The Originals” took her to Atlanta and forced her to travel outside of California for the first time in her life.

“I didn’t get to have a jet-setter life growing up at all,” she said.

View this post on Instagram

Dani 🐻 #newmutants

A post shared by blu (@bluhunt) on

As her first film, her role in the “The New Mutants” required that she work every day of production.

“I wish I had done other movies before I had done X-Men,” she said.

She said she was able to relate to her character on a deep level, having struggled in her youth. Like Moonstar, she discovered that she had powers and eventually learned how to use them. Only her ability is acting and connecting to the characters she brings to life.

“It’s weird because I feel like we are the same person,” she said of Moonstar. “Who Dani becomes at the end of the movie is who I feel like I am now.”

Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair, left, and Blu Hunt as Danielle Moonstar in 20th Century Studios’ THE NEW MUTANTS. Photo by Claire Folger. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

Hunt said she hopes her role as a Native superhero might bring greater awareness to mainstream America that Indigenous people still exist and their stories shouldn’t be relegated to Westerns and historical films.

“It’s not old times,” she said of “The New Mutants. “It’s modern. We’re here now. Reservations are here, and this is what they look like.”

She said she’s hopeful those who see the film will seek to learn more about contemporary Native culture and issues.

“I think they’re going to investigate and look into Native culture and Native way of life now,” Hunt said.

And she hopes some young Native women might connect to Moonstar as she has.

“There’s a dark side to Dani, but there’s a lot of hope and resilience in her,” Hunt said.

20th Century Studios: The New Mutants | Official Trailer

After her grandmother left her father’s place, Hunt said she wasn't always in touch with her Lakota culture. But her decision to take on the role of Dani Moonstar reignited her ties to her Native roots.

She said she has visited South Dakota several times in recent months and has even taken part in Lakota ceremonies.

“I’m in a process of reconnecting,” Hunt said. “I didn’t know how much I needed that in my life until I started doing it.”

View this post on Instagram

✨ mato paha ✨

A post shared by blu (@bluhunt) on

Join the Conversation