Actor and activist Chaske Spencer was born of the Lakota Sioux tribe, and raised on Indian Reservations in Montana and Idaho. When he was young, he dreamt of becoming a photographer, and before long, he also found himself in front of the camera. Chaske moved to New York City and in between bartending and waiting tables, he was cast in his first off off-Broadway play, DRACULA, playing the title role. From there he performed at THE PUBLIC THEATRE in NYC and THE ROUNDABOUT and was fortunate enough to be discovered by television/film casting director Rene Haynes. Rene cast him in his first feature film SKINS, the lead in DREAMKEEPER, and Steven Spielberg’s INTO THE WEST. Over the past few years, he has been keeping busy playing “Sam Uley” the alpha male leader of the werewolves, in the popular TWILIGHT SAGA film series NEW MOON, ECLIPSE, and BREAKING DAWN parts 1 and 2.
In between shooting the BREAKING DAWN sequels, Chaske completed shooting several independent films back to back. In DESERT CATHEDRAL, he plays the role of “Duran” opposite Lee Tergeson (“Oz”, “The Big C”). Set in 1992, it is a story about a suicidal real estate agent who disappears from his Pacific Northwest home and heads into the desert of Nevada with his camcorder. Chaske also plays the lead (“Virgil First Raise”) in the feature film adaption of the best selling novel WINTER IN THE BLOOD (by James Welch). Alex and Andrew Smith directed, and Chaske is a co-producer on the project. Additionally, he can be seen in the film SHOUTING SECRETS that premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival and is currently touring the festival circuit worldwide. In SHOUTING SECRETS, Chaske plays “Wesley Bishnik,” in a wonderful ensemble cast, which includes fellow TWILIGHT star Gil Birmingham and THE NEW WORLD’s Q’Orianka Kilcher.
Last spring Chaske landed the NBC pilot “FRONTIER” from Writer/Executive Producer Shaun Cassidy. Although it did not get picked up by the network, the project has received advance praise and was directed and produced by Thomas Schlamme, whose credits include “The West Wing” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Partnered with his manager Josselyne Herman and veteran producer Ted Kurdyla, Chaske’s production company Urban Dream is in development on a feature-length documentary about indiginous water rights, as well as a feature film called THE BLOCK. Additionally, Spencer expects to soon be starring in ALL MY RELATIONS, a role created specifically for him. The film is a contemporary Native American project that has been developed for television by producers Rene Haynes and Susan England.
With experience both on stage and on screen, in front and behind the camera, Chaske’s credibility as a quality member of the entertainment industry stands strong. He is passionate about making a difference with all people in the area of reducing poverty and creating sustainable solutions for the issues that communities face. In fact, he is engaged in several projects to that end through the non-profit UNITED GLOBAL SHIFT and his personal project SHIFT THE POWER TO THE PEOPLE. Back in June 2010, Chaske created and hosted the “Be the Shift” launch event, where fellow TWILIGHT SAGA cast and other celebrities came to help raise awareness and support for the snowstorm disaster victims from South Dakota’s Lakota Sioux tribe. Chaske, who is a Native American from the Lakota Sioux tribe in Idaho and Montana, was compelled to help after hearing of the disaster. In less than a day, he produced a public service announcement (PSA) through his production company, Urban Dream Productions, enlisting the assistance of his celebrity friends to raise awareness and support to those who have been without power and water for weeks. The PSA urged individuals to “shift the power to the people” and help to empower everyone to create sustainable, lasting change in their communities and countries. In less than a month over 30 thousand letters went to Congress as a result of the viral PSA campaign. The event gave attendees the chance to voice the shifts they would like to see in their own communities and launched the BE THE SHIFT movement.
Clearly, Chaske has been using his celebrity for good. In addition to developing his non profit endeavors, he spends his free time, traveling to various universities and reservations inspiring young people to BE THE SHIFT they want to see in their communities as well as say no to alcohol and drugs, based on his own life experience. In May 2011, he joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Indian Country” campaign in which he supported youth creating a healthier lifestyle through fitness and nutrition within Native American families and communities.
Always keeping busy, this past July, Chaske has his first photo exhibition. The exhibit was displayed at the Dream Hotel and was open to the public. Chaske says his work is best described as a “slice of life” with natural lighting outdoors. He does not do studio work as he feels natural light gives him the best creativity. Proceeds from the exhibit were donated to UNITED GLOBAL SHIFT. Chaske shared, “I am committed to using my art to help create new conversations in the media that support a positive shift for people everywhere.”
Chaske resides in Brooklyn, NY.