If you saw the most recent episode of the shot-in-Oklahoma series “Reservation Dogs,” there’s a good chance the song “Greasy Frybread” could be stuck in your head. You can find the whole music video here.
Joddi, who grew up in Glenpool, made his acting and “Reservation Dogs” debut as rapper Punkin Lusty, absentee father of one of the Rez Dogs kids, in an episode released Aug. 23 through FX on Hulu.
On the other side of the acting-experience spectrum is guest star Wes Studi, a Cherokee actor who in 2019 received an honorary Academy Award for his body of work. The "Reservation Dogs" episode released Aug. 30 has Studi guest starring as Bucky, a resident of the fictional town Okern who has an encounter with tribal officer Big (Zahn McClarnon) and young ride-along partner Cheese (Lane Factor).
Shot primarily in Okmulgee, “Reservation Dogs” is a groundbreaking series with an all-Indigenous cast and creative team. It’s a comedy, but these two episodes (“What About Your Dad” and "Come and Get Your Love") delve into serious territory. Parents might want to screen the episodes before watching with their young teens.
Joddi was able to give an interview on his role to the Tulsa World. He said he pulled from his childhood experiences in bringing Punkin Lusty to life he talked about being the kid whose father wasn’t always where you hoped he would be.
So how did a rookie actor land a role in “Reservation Dogs?”
Joddi didn’t initiate contact. He was pursued.
Joddi said he was sitting on the couch when he got an out-of-the-blue email with a subject line that mentioned a “Reservation Dogs” audition.
“I almost swiped it, like deleted it, because I just thought maybe it was one of those spam things or something,” he said.
Instead, he opened the email and was pleasantly surprised to learn he was being offered an opportunity to audition. The show needed someone to play the role of an Indigenous hip-hop music artist. Joddi is an award-winning Muscogee Nation hip-hop artist.
A catchy Punkin Lusty song (“Greasy Fry Bread”) ushers viewers into the episode. One of Joddi’s songs — “RezdReamZ” — can be heard in a previous episode of “Reservation Dogs.” It’s an autobiographical song he wrote and recorded before joining the cast. He said he submitted the song to series co-creator Sterlin Harjo and the show’s music department and it was green-lighted for use. Joddi is appreciative the song was even considered.
Joddi resides in Mason City, Iowa, but the video for “RezdReamZ” was shot in Oklahoma. He stopped at his old neighborhood while on the way back from the “Reservation Dogs” set, and his tech-savvy 10-year-old daughter shot the music video with his iPhone.
“It was cool to go back home and kind of show my family where I grew up,” he said.
Joddi, asked what led him to Iowa, rewound all the way to a time in his life when he was close to the same age as the “Reservation Dogs” kids.
“I messed up, man,” he said. “I got into a lot more crap and that’s when I did some time in jail.”
There aren’t many positives to incarceration, but one of them is you have time to evaluate your life. Going forward, Joddi decided to major in things that gave him joy — ink (tattoos) and music.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your heart and do what you need to be doing,” he said. “I’m not saying that everybody is going to be an entrepreneur or anything and I’m not saying everybody’s going to be successful in their ventures. All I am saying is that you’ll never know if you don’t try, you know? ... Do something that makes you happy from your heart and then see if you can make money at it. That’s a bonus.”
So, too, is an unexpected acting gig.
Joddi, in a bio on his online site, provided insight into what he overcame to reach this feel-good period of his life. He said he survived domestic violence, an abusive childhood, life in the streets, a suicide attempt and addiction to drugs and alcohol. He credited four factors for the turnaround: family (he said his wife and kids are his anchors), healthy lifestyle, reconnection to the creator and earth — and creating through tattoos/music.
Now he’s in position to uplift and be an example.
“And that’s the thing, you know? That’s what I want people to know and take from (my story) is you can overcome it. You can overcome all those obstacles, even the ones you put on yourself.”
“Reservation Dogs” introduces Joddi and his music to a mass audience. The exposure, and resulting opportunities, may ensure that we haven’t seen the last of him. But will we be seeing more of Punkin Lusty?
Episode four is Punkin Lusty’s only appearance in season one, according to Joddi, who said, “I’m hoping we go to season two and they write me in there somewhere.”
Regardless, Joddi said he feels like people are witnessing history when they watch “Reservation Dogs.” This kind of portrayal of Indigenous youths has never before been the focal point of a television series.
“I’m just grateful to be a piece of it,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling, you know?”
Gallery: See the 'red carpet' premiere of 'Reservation Dogs' at Circle Cinema as stars come to Tulsa
Photos: 'Reservation Dogs' premiere brings stars of FX show to Tulsa's Circle Cinema
I cover pop culture and work as a feature writer at the Tulsa World. A former Oklahoma sports writer of the year, I have written books about former OU coach Barry Switzer and former OSU coach Pat Jones. Phone: 918-581-8389
The Indigenous hip-hop artist was surprised when presented with an opportunity to audition for the shot-in-Oklahoma FX series. He talked about struggles he has overcome and why the subject matter in a new episode hit home with him.
In addition to starring in a Peacock reboot of the series, the actor co-hosts a "Zack Morris is Trash" podcast with a writer from the new series.
1 of 6
Sten Joddi (left), who grew up in Glenpool, will make his acting debut as Punkin Lusty in the next episode of the FX series “Reservation Dogs.” He posed with D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, who plays his son in the series, during an Aug. 2 Tulsa premiere at Circle Cinema.
Sten Joddi, (left) plays the absentee father of D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai’s character in the FX series “Reservation Dogs.” They posed together for photographers during an Aug. 2 premiere event at Tulsa’s Circle Cinema.