Biography: Elaine Miles


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Booking Information:
ph: 505.515.8053

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Elaine Miles
c/o Emergence Productions
P.O. Box 1991
Corrales, NM 87048


Elaine Miles portrays Marilyn Whirlwind, Dr. Joel Fleischman's (Rob Morrow) quietly sage assistant. Marilyn's consistently calm demeanor accentuates Fleischman's neurotic behavior. From the moment they meet at Cicely's makeshift medical office, where Marilyn insists on applying for and accepting a job that Fleischman claims doesn't exist, the doctor knows he has met his match.

Born on April 7, 1960 in Pendleton, Oregon, Miles was raised outside the Seattle area as a member of the Umatilla tribe, one of three tribes on her reservation. Brought up traditionally with her parent's Indian heritage, Cayuse and Nez Perce, Miles learned her Native American culture through ancestral storytelling. Skilled in the traditional activities of her tribe -- beading, pottery and weaving -- Miles is also a prize-winning traditional dancer, placing second in the Women's Traditional Buckskin dancing in the Goodwill Games held in Everett, Washington. She has received multiple awards from the First Americans in the Arts and was named Native American Woman of the Year in 1993, and America's Celebrity Indian of the Year in 1995.

With no previous acting experience, Miles was discovered by Northern Exposure's casting agents when she accompanied her mother, Armenia Miles, and other local Native Americans to an audition for the part of Marilyn. After seeing her in the waiting room, the agents asked her to read for the part. They immediately gave her the role of Marilyn, and cast her mother in the recurring role of Mrs. Anku, Ed's (Darren E. Burrows) aunt and wife of the local medicine man. Miles spends her down time traveling in her truck to numerous parades and festivals, where she performs her native dancing. Since Northern Exposure, Miles has appeared in several films, including Mad Love (1994,) Smoke Signals (1997), and Skins (2002), with fellow NoEx cast member, Graham Green. She has also appeared on CBC's half-hour series The Rez as Etta the medicine woman.

One of her recent projects was RezRobics - a workout video to extoll the need for native americans to exercise and avoid health problems such as diabetes. Featuring Elaine and Drew LaCapa, the self-billed "300 pounds of love" Apache comedian, the video is the branchild of Pam Belgarde, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa health worker, and Gary Rhine, a producer/director. The exercise video won an award from the American Indian Film Institute. She also received the Eagle Spirit Award from AIFI in 2001.

In 2002, she also appeared in "The Business of Fancydancing," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is the directorial debut of "Smoke Signals" writer Sherman Alexie. The film, based on Sherman Alexie's collection of poetry and short stories, "The Business of Fancydancing,'' depicts the return of a successful Indian poet to Spokane for the funeral of a childhood friend and examines issues about the social identity of Native Americans and the concept of Indian "authenticity." She joins fellow NoEx cast member, Cynthia Geary, in both Sherman Alexie films.

She appeared in the movie Tortilla Heaven, which was filmed in 1999, but was finally released in March 2007 and is making the film festival rounds. She continues to be active in the PowWow circuit as an award-winning dancer. She participated on a panel with Native Lens, 911 Media Arts Center's film program for Native American teenagers. She was on the internet series "Home, Home on the Rez" on the Red Nation Media Channel. She also appeared in the Sci-Fi channel original movie, Wyvern, in early 2009 -- teaming up with fellow Northern Exposure cast mate, Barry Corbin.

Upcoming and Current Projects:
She currently performs as a comedienne and an emcee.

Marilyn Speaks: A Conservation With Elaine Miles
Native American Celebrities Database
E! Online Listing
Marilyn's Stories (from Moose's Guide)





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