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Misty Upham
Misty Upham.png
Upham in 2013
Misty Anne Upham

(1982-07-06)July 6, 1982
DiedOctober 5, 2014(2014-10-05) (aged 32)
Years active2002–2014

Misty Anne Upham (July 6, 1982 – October 5, 2014) was a Native American actress. She attracted critical acclaim for her performance in the 2008 film Frozen River, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female. She also appeared in Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian and August: Osage County.

Early life

Misty Anne Upham was born on July 6, 1982, in Kalispell, Montana, and raised in Auburn, Washington. A Native American, she was a member of the Blackfeet Nation.[1] She was reportedly sexually abused, assaulted and gang-raped, first as a child and then later in life as an up-and-coming actress in Hollywood by an executive at The Weinstein Company.[2][3][4] Both Upham and family members reported that she suffered from depression and the severe after effects of these traumas.[2][3][4]


Upham's film credits include Expiration Date, Edge of America, Skins and Skinwalkers. In 2010, she appeared on HBO's Big Love. In 2013, she played a major supporting role in Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, selected in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 66th Festival de Cannes.[1] She played the housekeeper Johnna in August: Osage County, and played Liz in Cake.


On October 5, 2014, Upham left her sister's apartment on the Muckleshoot Reservation in Auburn, Washington, on foot. The following weekend, her family announced via Facebook and other media that she had not been heard from since then and that they were concerned for her welfare, citing past mental health problems.[5][6][7][8] A spokesman for the Auburn Police Department told CNN that police had not opened an investigation and were not regarding Upham as a missing person at that time. He confirmed that family members had contacted police on several occasions in the past year to report Upham missing but that she had been located and determined to be safe within a few days in each previous case.[9]

On October 16, 2014, Misty Upham's body was found by a small search party organized by her family and other members of the Muckleshoot Tribe.[10] Her body was found at the bottom of a cliff in a wooded area,[11][12] just a short distance from where the family had previously searched. Members of the search party believe her death was an accident; that she fell off the cliff in the dark and that her life could have been saved had there been a prompt and thorough search.[10] Citing lack of action on the part of the Auburn police, and alleging past abuse of Misty Upham by members of the Auburn Police Department, Upham's family released a statement that reads in part:

"But the real tragedy is this could have been prevented on a lot of levels. We pleaded with the Auburn Police to help us find Misty but Commander Stocker made the decision that Misty did not fit the criteria of the Washington State Endangered Missing Persons Plan. This became a point of contention between us and the Auburn PD. In a statement he gave to the press he said Auburn PD doesn't have any evidence that Misty is actually missing. He went on to say that Misty packed her belonging and left her apartment. This was an inaccurate statement. We believe that Commander Stocker had animosity against Misty due to a previous encounter."[10]

"Now press reports are saying that Auburn police department found Misty. The truth is the Native American community formed a search party and found her after several days of searching without the help of the Auburn PD".[10]

On December 3, 2014, the King County Medical Examiner released a report stating Misty Upham had died of blunt-force injuries to her head and torso on October 5, 2014, the day she disappeared.[13] The medical examiner stated that "the manner of her death – whether by foul play, suicide or accident – could not be determined."[14]

In late October, 2016, the upcoming release of a documentary on Upham was announced. 11 Days - The Search for Misty Upham investigates her disappearance and death, and the search for her led by her family in what they report was the absence of police support.[15] It is scheduled to appear at Native American film festivals, notably in the broader context of the ongoing issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).[16][17]

On October 15, 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, Upham's father, Charles Upham, went public with allegations that his daughter was raped by a member of Weinstein's production team at the same Golden Globes ceremony where she was honored, and that other members of Weinstein's team had not only witnessed the rape but had cheered the rapist.[3][4]


After her death The Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program created The Misty Upham Award for Young Native Actors in 2021 to honor Misty's legacy, and her hope of uplifting more young Native actors. The Misty Upham Award was created in 2021, and each year the award honors a Native actor under 25 with an award, $500 cash prize, and performance opportunities. Misty was an inspiration. Her talent, artistry, and career broke barriers for many, and it is important that that part of her legacy be celebrated and remembered. Each year young actors submit performances of monologues from Native plays for a chance to win this award. [1]


Year Title Role Director Notes
2002 Skins Mrs. Blue Cloud Chris Eyre
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Dawn Paul Seed TV Series (2 episodes)
Skinwalkers Nina Chris Eyre TV movie
2003 Dreamkeeper Chief's Daughter Steve Barron TV movie
Edge of America Shirleen Chris Eyre TV movie
2006 Expiration Date Charlie's Mother Rick Stevenson
2008 Frozen River Lila Littlewolf Courtney Hunt American Indian Film Festival for Best Supporting Actress
Alliance of Women Film Journalists for Best Newcomer
Nominated–Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Nominated–Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated–Utah Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress
2010 The Dry Land Gloria Ryan Piers Williams
Big Love Leila Stilwell Adam Davidson
David Petrarca
TV series (2 episodes)
2011 Mascots Karen Scott Aaron Hartmann Short
2012 Django Unchained Minnie Quentin Tarantino
Every Other Second Nurse Kelly Harrison Sanborn Short
2013 Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian Jane Arnaud Desplechin
August: Osage County Johnna Monevata John Wells Hollywood Film Festival - Ensemble of the Year
Capri Ensemble Cast Award
Nominated–Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated–Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Without Fire May Eliza McNitt Short
2014 Cake Liz Daniel Barnz
2015 Within Tina Walsh Phil Claydon


  1. ^ a b Schmidt, Rob. " Blackfeet Actress Misty Upham On Filming 'Jimmy P.' with Benicio Del Toro." Archived 2014-10-15 at the Wayback Machine Indian Country Today Media Network, September 30, 2013; accessed February 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Anderson, Rick. "The Painful Life and Mysterious Death of Misty Upham". Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Misty Upham Raped at 2013 Golden Globes?". Hollywood LA News. November 10, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017. My daughter, Misty Upham, was a victim of rape by a Weinstein Executive in 2013 at the Golden Globe Awards.
  4. ^ a b c Upham, Charles (October 15, 2017). "The recent backlash with regard to Harvey Weinstein's sexual allegations". Retrieved November 14, 2017. I pleaded with her to press charges since she still has the torn green dress she wore (Photo Above) with the DNA all over it.
  5. ^ "August: Osage County Actress Misty Upham Missing". Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Actress Misty Upham still missing in Seattle area". Native Times. Associated Press. October 15, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  7. ^ "Actress Misty Upham Missing; Last Seen in Muckleshoot, WA". Indian Country Today Media Network. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Family: Actress Misty Upham missing in Washington". 10 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  9. ^ Griggs, Brandon (October 13, 2014). "Actress' disappearance baffles family". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d "Misty Upham's Father Says Her Death Was an Accident, but Alleges Mistreatment by Police". Indian Country Today Media Network. 17 October 2014. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  11. ^ Miletich, Steve; Cornwell, Paige (October 16, 2014). "Body found in Auburn believed to be missing actress". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  12. ^ "Misty Upham Found Dead: Family Of 'Frozen River' Actress Says Police Uncooperative In Search". Deadline Hollywood. October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  13. ^ "Misty Upham Cause of Death Revealed: Actress Died of Blunt-Force Injuries". Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  14. ^ Young, Kristen Millares. "Misty Upham: the tragic death and unscripted life of Hollywood's rising star". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  15. ^ 11 Days - The Search for Misty Upham - 2016 independent documentary about the disappearance, death, and search for Misty Upham.
  16. ^ Red Nation Film Festival Native Cinema 21/10/2016 02:22 "13th Red Nation Film Festival will have a 'Spotlight' on Indigenous Murder and Missing Women as part of Native Women in Film & Television Initiative. With an introduction to this very important film '11 Days The Search for Misty Upham.' A Red Nation Film Festival Official Selection Spotlight"
  17. ^ Red Nation Film Festival Awards Show 2016 Official Selections. Accessed 25 Oct 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 May 2022, at 02:01
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