The Curse: Is Cara Durand a Real Native American Artist?

Image Credit: Richard Foreman Jr./A24/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME

Showtime’s ‘The Curse’ is one weird show, to say the least. Despite its strange and unusual tone, it feels more real than most shows out there. Even though the audience knows that it’s a fictional series, the characters and events in the story are presented in a way that makes them entirely believable. Whitney and Asher Siegel feel like the kind of people that the audience can say they know or have known. Worse, it might show the viewers that they are the Siegels. ‘The Curse’ goes pretty deep in that respect, and of course, this question of having roots in reality extends to other characters as well, particularly Cara Durand. How much of a connection does her character have with the real world?

Cara Durand Shares Similarities With the Actress Who Plays Her

One of the things that make ‘The Curse’ feel so realistic is that the creators have used real-life references to create the characters and their situations. In some cases, actors share the background with their characters. For example, Cara Durand is played by Nizhonniya Luxi Austin, who is also a Native American artist. The actress is Tlingit and Diné and hails from Juneau, Alaska. Like her character in the show, Austin dabbles in abstract art, which is a representation of the intersection between her identity as a Native artist and creator of modern art. Cara’s art in ‘The Curse’ also shares a similar intention.

Image Credit: Richard Foreman Jr./A24/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

We hear from Whitney that Cara’s art is focused on challenging preconceived notions about what Native art should look or feel like. She doesn’t want to stay confined within the boxes that the world has created about the kind of work that would be considered acceptable as belonging to the Native community. In real life, too, Austin challenges these boundaries and doesn’t want to be boxed into anything. Apart from art, Austin also creates music. She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where Whitney and Asher go to attend Cara’s show. Austin is an alumnus of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), where she studied studio arts.

In the show, which takes place from the perspective of the Siegels, Cara Durand is an opportunity for the couple. They plan to get her to become a consultant on the show, which they hope will give them the validation they need to enter the Native community and renovate the houses without seeming like they are pushing their way into a place where they don’t belong. Whitney is hungrier for this validation.

To others, she talks about Cara as if she and the artist are great friends. In reality, she and Cara cannot even have a proper conversation, and there is an air of awkwardness between them. Cara is fully aware that the Siegels supporting her is purely for their benefit. In return, she means to get something for herself too. While they try to get overly friendly, she keeps them at arm’s length, which only makes Whitney more desperate to get into her inner circle.

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