SANTA FE, N.M. — In late August, Vogue magazine did a photo spread at the Santa Fe, N.M., Indian Market, and among the many models was a native daughter of Morenci.
The Copper Era caught up with Sharon Brokeshoulder last week to discuss the interesting and winding career path she’s had. The self-described “copper miner’s daughter” is a graduate of the MHS class of ‘77 and went on to a career in modeling and acting, one she shared with her family, including husband Nick Brokeshoulder and children, Randy, Brent and Audrey.
Brokeshoulder was inspired to take up her chosen professions thanks to inspiration from another MHS student.
“I had a classmate; her name is Darlene Segovia. She was 18, and she went to California and became one of the Ebony models. She kind of, like, inspired me. I was like, ‘Wow, one of our classmates actually made it to the big time.’ She toured overseas and was even in that Ebony book,” Brokeshoulder said.
Segovia was featured on the cover of the March 1979 edition of Jet Magazine for the Ebony Fashion Fair Preview, which can be viewed online through Google Books.
“Being Native American, in the film industry there’s very few natives that have really reached that area, aside from the ones you see on TV like Wes Studi, Tantoo Cardinal and Rodney Grant, just to name a few. They’re the ones that opened up the door for us; so when I got out of high school, it interested me to do something like that,” Brokeshoulder said.
From there Brokeshoulder moved on to modeling and acting jobs in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area under the Bobby Ball Talent Agency. She auditioned for many roles alongside actors like Kurt Russell and Matt Damon, and appeared in films with Steven Seagal (“On Deadly Ground”), Beau Bridges (“Harts of the West”) and Jane Seymour on the television series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” Most recently, she’s appeared in episodes of the television series “Longmire” with Lou Diamond Philips.
Her two sons also had major speaking roles in an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” with then-fellow child actor Haley Joel Osment on the episode “Lucas.”
Brokeshoulder is also a military spouse for 20 years through her husband, now retired from the United States Army.
“In 2006, we got contacted out of California by this talent scout, who said, ‘We’re looking for a dance group to go to Iraq to perform for the troops.’ There had never been a dance group that had gone there. This was at the height of the war; I guess Saddam Hussein had been captured at the time. They said, ‘Well we need six dancers.’ My husband, myself, my middle son and three other dancers got contracted to go over there. We toured for eight days at nine combat bases from the southern part of Iraq almost all the way up to Turkey. When we came home, we flew with three soldiers who had been killed, and it was a humbling experience. It made me look at life very differently after having seen that,” she said.
One particular piece of interesting memorabilia that she acquired on that trip was a dress covered in 53 combat patches from soldiers she met on tour.
“When we performed two performances per day, we were flying in the Blackhawk (helicopters), with two Apache (helicopters) in the event we get got shot at. I mean it was a dangerous place. We were in a war zone. When I went to perform the sign language for the Lee Greenwood song, ‘God Bless the USA,’ the soldiers came up to me, and they gave me a combat patch off of their sleeves. The sergeant major that we were with told me that since I’m in a combat zone, I have the right to wear that on my sleeve. I have 53 combat badges on a dress from the sleeve of every soldier, the men and women that came and decorated me for that. They had a story for every one of those patches; it’s a very touching story, and a humbling one,” she said.
Brokeshoulder and her family have moved around a great deal, living in California, Washington, Alaska and finally settling in New Mexico, where she tours on the Powwow Circuit as a Southern cloth dancer, all the while continuing to act, model, dance and teach those skills to others.
The thing she says she misses the most about Morenci? The people.
“I grew up very close knit with all of my friends in high school. They are the best. We played sports together, and I knew them from kindergarten all the way up until I was a senior in high school. We still keep in touch on Facebook, but the camaraderie, we were all family knit, meaning that everyone down my street all knew each other. You just don’t see that anymore. We still keep in touc,h though. I think everyone from Morenci always keeps in touch,” Brokeshoulder said.
So what wisdom does this career actor and model have for other soon-to-be graduates here in Morenci?
“If you have a goal that you have set for yourself, finish what you start. Don’t give up, and be yourself in everything that you do,” she said.
View Sharon Brokeshoulder’s modeling in the Santa Fe Indian Market photo spread for Vogue Magazine online at https://www.vogue.com/vogueworld/article/santa-fe-indian-market-street-style-photos.