She’s the face and model of many high-profile fashion editorials and campaigns that you’ve probably seen and now you’re soon going to know, since she’s making her film debut in the highly anticipated feature film “After,” released worldwide April 12. Model and now-actress, Khadijha Red Thunder plays Steph, roommate and friend to Tessa, played by Josephine Langford. The cast also includes Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott, singer Pia Mia as Tristan, YouTube sensation Inanna Sarkis as Molly, and Selma Blair as Tessa’s mom, Carol.
Red Thunder says that she’s “super excited about the movie, and there’s a lot of excitement around it. It’s so sweet.” While discussing the strong female leads, and other women surrounding the production and writing/directing of the film (director/writer Jenny Gage, producer Jennifer Gigbot and novelist/producer, Anna Todd), she is quick to add that “I’m very, very excited, and so grateful to be a part of it. There are so many amazing women involved in the movie.”
Red Thunder is especially emphatic that not only is this film about empowered females, it supports the LGBTQ community positively. She recalls that in the book Steph’s significant other, Tristan, is male, although in the film, the director changed the character to a female, “which I think is an amazing thing all-around and reflects diversity among the characters.”
Talking with Red Thunder is like hanging out with a college friend who you haven’t seen in ages but can so easily reconnect with. As we chatted about modeling and acting, it is clear that she was inspired to embark on her career in front of the camera by a strong desire to see that her Native American heritage be more strongly represented in the mainstream media. She recalls “as a young girl, I would flip through the pages of magazines or watch television and see all these women from places across the globe or America, but I would never see a Native American girl like me in the ads or shows. No one looked like the women I was growing up with. I knew I wanted to change that even as a young girl”.
As she reflects on her own childhood, she points out “sometimes as young girls, we seek out and need to see someone out there in the mainstream who looks similar to us and we can identify with, to give us confidence and belief in ourselves. I wanted to be someone who young girls who are like me when I was a kid and have a similar background to mine, could point to and say to themselves ‘I can do it too.’ And I want young girls to know that no matter who you are, where you come from, you are capable of making any dream you have come true. It takes hard work and there will be challenges along the way, but if you commit to making it happen, it can.”
After finding much success modeling over the last few years, it was about a year ago that Red Thunder decided to tell a friend that she was going to seriously pursue acting at some point. She recalls “I was very busy modeling, but I vocalized the idea out loud. I truly believe in the law of attraction. Once you put something out in the universe, I feel like it creates a magnetic gravitational push and pull that can put you closer to making it happen. And it starts with vocalizing it. For me, it seemed like almost within a week after that conversation, I heard that Jenny was interested in having me audition for the film once the casting process was going to start. A few months later, Jenny reached out and a few auditions later, I was on a plane to Atlanta to start rehearsals and work with this terrific cast. And I am so excited for the film to come out.”
Get ready to experience the debut this weekend of the talented, sweet, and funny Khadijha Red Thunder on the big screen.
After is in theaters everywhere. Get your tickets here.