The Native American community mourns the passing of Lisa Marie Presley’s passing earlier this month, she and her father are being remembered and mourned by celebrities in the Native American community. Joanelle Romero, Founder of the Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI) shares her remembrances of both Presleys, the friendship they shared and their bond of Native American heritage.
Romero’s career spans four decades in the entertainment industry, an American media proprietor, filmmaker, television producer, acclaimed actress in film and television, and film distributor, recording artist, singer/songwriter, and humanitarian.
Elvis had Native American ancestry, specifically Cherokee ancestry. According to the book Elvis & Gladys his maternal great-great-great grandmother was a Cherokee woman named Morning White Dove. Morning White Dove married a man named William Mansell, who was of French ancestry. They got married at a time when marriage between Native Americans and white people was not uncommon in the American South.
Because Elvis made multiple films in which Joanelle Romero’s mother, Rita Roger, performed Joanelle developed close friendships with both Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie.
“My mom was an actress and was featured in Viva Las Vegas, Spinout, Speedway, Roustabout, Harum Scarum and Double Trouble,” she explains.
Joanelle adds, “I was nine years old, when my mom took to me meet Elvis at the MGM lot, the film was Speedway with Nancy Sinatra. I’d practiced for days in front of the mirror what I was going to say to Elvis. He knelt down and took my hand and kissed me on my forehead which I refused to wash FOR A MONTH!”
Joanelle remembers watching the Netflix film Elvis (Elvis a biographical drama film directed by Baz Luhrmann and written by Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner) with Lisa Marie on December 10, 2022 at a private home. “Lisa asked me how I liked the film. I shared with her that I saw the film at the Motion Picture Academy and I cried for days, was angry and wanted to leave the business.”
“We went to to talk about working together on projects. Then it was time for photos and Lisa hugged me so tight and sunk into my body as she pressed her head on mine. Under my smile I asked Lisa ‘Are you ok?’ she said ‘No’ and spoke about her son,” says Jonelle. “All I could do was to say ‘call me.’”
The loss of Lisa Marie is overwhelming, Joanells says, “She’s gone this beautiful soul no words devastated.”
About Joanelle Romero
Romero’s debut as an actress was ‘The Girl Called Hatter Fox’, the first time a Native actress carried a leading role in the first contemporary native woman story, 1977.
Through her organization Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI), now in its 27th year (RNCI will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2025) The Creative Enterprise by Natives delivering to all people the stories that shape our world is the longest-running Native Women-Led Indigenous Media Arts and Cultural non-profit enterprise in the history of the entertainment industry. Based in Los Angeles with offices in Santa Fe New Mexico, serving Indian Country & Entertainment Industry.
Representing over 570+ Native Nations, amplifying more than 5000+ Native and Indigenous content creators through its streaming company Red Nation Television Network, supporting 2700+ Native Indigenous filmmakers through its Red Nation International Film Festival, including films directed by women through its Native Women in Film & Television in All Media, since 1995.