Practically Ranching

#5 - Mo Brings Plenty, Yellowstone

June 22, 2022 Matt Perrier Season 1 Episode 5
Practically Ranching
#5 - Mo Brings Plenty, Yellowstone
Show Notes Transcript

While we've all established that the hit series Yellowstone isn't the most accurate depiction of everyday ranch life, there's no denying its popularity.

Mo Brings Plenty plays "Mo," Tribal Chairman Thomas Rainwater's driver, enforcer and overall calming influence on the hit series.

Last August, my father-in-law, John Teagarden, introduced my family to Mo during the Linn County Fair & Rodeo in Mound City, KS. On a last-minute request, Mo addressed the crowd during the rodeo and captured everyone's heart as he spoke of the relationship of the cowboy and native cultures from the past.

Whether we like it or not, popular culture has a way of forming the world's opinions and perspectives. While most of us don't solve problems today by "taking someone to the train station," Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan, Mo, and the rest of the Yellowstone cast are rejuvenating the world's interest in ranching  and the western way of life. It's now up to us to  find ways to tell our everyday stories of the real trials and tribulations of providing food and fiber for folks across the world.

@MoBringsPlenty

Matt:

Welcome to practically ranching. I'm your host, Matt Perrier. Each episode, we'll deliver a mixed ration of tradition, business philosophy, and the emotions evoked when these principles collide. We won't try to make you the world's smartest rancher. That's not our goal. But each week we will hold a discussion that will stimulate critical thought, broaden our perspective and help determine practical solutions for the challenges facing ranchers today. And in the process, we may even offer some worthwhile wisdom while we are practically ranching. This week on practically ranching, we're going to get a little Hollywood. Many of you will recognize Mo Brings Plenty's photo. Mo is part of the cast and crew, I guess of Yellowstone also helps a little bit with, taylor Sheridan's other series, 1883. Mo actually lives in Louisburg, Kansas, just east of here an hour and a half or two. And, I first met Mo. A year ago, not quite a year ago. At the Linn county fair and rodeo in Mound City, Kansas. My father-in-law John and his wife candy Teagarden help put that rodeo and county fair on, and john introduced me to mow. And I had no idea who he was because as I admit to Mo on this upcoming podcast, I had yet to see the first episode of Yellowstone. After meeting Mo, I decided that I owed it to him and, and, um, myself to give it a try. And since then, I've almost gotten through all four seasons over the last year. That's as close to binge watching is as Matt Perrier can get. Uh, but. Honestly, I've really enjoyed it. And we'll talk a little bit on this podcast about, whether a show like Yellowstone is a friend or a foe to the ranching community. I know you all probably already have your own opinion, but I think Mo does a nice job of, of kind of giving his two cents and his perspective, both on the cowboy's but also the native American cultures and and how they're represented in a show like Yellowstone. So. Uh, appreciate you tuning in. I hope you enjoy this week's podcast. Once again, unfortunately, we had a bit of technical difficulty. This time it was with our internet connection... Moe was shooting. Uh, season five of Yellowstone up in Montana. And the internet connection at his place that he was staying was not very good, and so we lost the feed a couple of times and there's some hiccups and glitches there, but I think you'll still still be able to get the jest of the conversation, and I apologize for those once again, technical difficulties, but, uh, we're learning. So thank you again. Uh, the feedback has been great from everyone. We look forward to continuing to bring you some diverse guests like Mo Brings Plenty and uh thanks again for tuning in to practically ranching.

Mo:

Nope. I can hear you loud and clear now.

Matt:

Awesome. This is a pretty new podcast for me. And so we're getting through some technical glitches and it seems like every time I record we have a different one. But here I was all nerved up about, my first famous podcast guest, and I was so nervous that as you were texting me about getting started, my wife, Amy, texted me about picking up coffee and laundry detergent at the store. And I sent the text that I was supposed to send her to you. And then her dad, my father-in-law and your friend tries to call you in the middle of it. Uh, these podcasts, you never know what's going to happen. That's for sure. And then technical difficulty. Heck I think he got through it pretty well, mo. I, um, I was highly impressed.

Mo:

I got good help. So I'd say she knows way more about it than I do.

Matt:

It's good to have somebody now. It's good to have somebody in there. So tell me what you're up to today.

Mo:

Um, we're filming season five. And, and so I'm not only wearing the hat as an actor, I'm also wearing a hat as a, the native, uh, native American quarter. And so, I have to run to set this, we were shooting late today, um, so I have to run to set as soon as I'm done with this and then go getting prepared for a scene coming up. So

Matt:

well, I, uh, I'm not going to make a divulge anything that's happening, but, for those few listeners, who've lived under a rock for the last, however many years. Where are we with Yellowstone? Where are you on location now?

Mo:

In Montana.

Matt:

Okay. That's what I figured, but, uh, I, before we get too deep into the conversation, I have to chuckle the first time I met you was last August in mound, city, Kansas at the Linn county fair and rodeo. And I'm embarrassed to tell you this, I hadn't watched the first episode of Yellowstone yet. Part of it was I just with five kids and 500 cows and everything else. I just, I, it wasn't on the top of my priority list, but, after I met you and of course you had a performance or two there and a couple of rodeos that uh, my father-in-law was putting on and, and I thought, okay, I've heard all the scuttlebutt, uh, by the rancher types who say this isn't realistic enough, but I'm, I'm just going to see for myself and now I'm still, this is going to be perfect timing because I am about midway through season four and, um, I'm the opposite of a binge watcher. So it'll take me till November, whenever you premiere season five, I'll probably just finally get to the last, so there'll be no waiting for me. I'll go. I'll go right into it. A friend of mine, Greg Stewart, early on when the first season of Yellowstone came out and there were some ranchers on Facebook that were belittling it and saying how none of it was realistic. And I remember Stewart getting on there and saying, "Folks... It's a drama, not a how to on ranching." And so I went into it with that, and I've loved it. It's, uh, it's, it's pretty cool, and even though it's totally different than, than my real world, I think there's a lot of, a lot of value to it and, and I don't know any other movie stars, so it's pretty cool to see somebody I actually know, come across the big screen. So, uh, tell us, tell us, what your favorite part of playing Mo on Yellowstone?

Mo:

My favorite part is bringing into light, uh, some of the, the issues that we face. I mean, you know, yeah. The show is not realistic, like as stated, it's not a how to on ranching, but it, it kinda takes some of the, the issues that we face as, as, Agricultural people as, as native people, and it brings it Taylor Sheridan is able to tell a story in a way that other people can, can relate to it and, or understand it. And so that's, it's just being a part of a small part of, uh, bringing to light, um, the stories. Yeah, I think that's perfectly said. And, and I have to think back, you know, my wife, Amy and I in, in many different ways have tried to help tell the story of, of production agriculture, to folks who may not know anything more about where their food comes from, then milk's in the cooler case, at the refrigerator in the store. And we have tried... you name it, I think we've tried it for the last 20 years of being back here. And here you all come on and do it in a way that I never, ever, ever would have considered, and people can tear that apart, all they want, but you've, you've gotten a lot more millions of people to listen to you than any of us have in farming and ranching. And so, um, is it, is it perfect? Is it exactly true to life? No, but I got to admit I've never met Taylor Sheridan, but he, he probably gets closer to a lot of things than what a lot of quote unquote movie directors would because of his, I think, any way because of his personality. And of course he has his culture and his awareness of especially the horse and the Western culture. Um, so it, I think you do a great job. Thank you very much, Matt. Appreciate that. And yeah, it's, it's Taylor's connection that is not only to, to the Cattlemen's and the horse horse realm, but also to the native realm as well. And you know, there's two cultures in this country that are near and dear to his heart and that's the cowboy culture and the native culture. And both of those cultures are so... man they are the foundation of, of, of today's world, you know, um, at the very beginning. And, and we all know that that, that Hollywood took the play placed the cowboy against the native and the native against the cowboy, but back in the day, it was total opposite. You know, um, we both respected the land. We both took care of it. We both loved what, what was what we were, you know, nurturing. Um, and, and because again, the whole cliche is you are what you eat. There's, there's a whole process that goes into your family, us with so many families across this country, does that is beyond the shelves in a grocery store. You know, there's a whole process of that, you know, how many folks understand and know that you have to get up, you know, a couple of times a night when you're calvin' out to check your cows or, or if something goes wrong in the middle of the night, it don't matter. Or you know, that your, your livestock eats before you do. And I mean, there's a whole process that goes into it and, and not many folks understand and know that, you know, um, It's not just a job, it's a way of life. And so I'm, I really am thankful that this show is bringing light to all of it.

Matt:

Yeah, we are, we are too. And I had really never thought about it this way and this kind of connection, but it's been this way for centuries, the native culture, regardless of what continent we're talking about, but, but especially here in north America, like you said, as much as Hollywood made the, the old cowboy and Indian days as being against each other, we do have a lot in common. We do have a lot of similarities and, um, I may not have ever thought of it this way, but, even the Cowboys, or farmers and ranchers in general, are becoming less and less as a percentage of the entire country and, uh, population. We're dwindling just like so many times through the years, the native culture has as well, and, and, uh, like you said, if we don't step up and, and raise some appreciation and some awareness, um, losing either of those cultures, you lose a lot more than just bodies. Um, you know, we're talking about, we're talking about lifestyles and, and the, the heart and soul of, of probably what made America centuries ago?

Mo:

That's that's the bottom line. I mean, you know, we're, we're up against a lot, you know, it don't matter. Whether we, we reside in, in a small town in central Kansas or, you know, uh, on the outskirts of a big city and, and the east coast where we're facing a lot and, and our way of lives are, are dwindling. And so there has to be a serious turnaround because you look at how many, I remember when we worked calves last fall. And when I was a kid, you know, when we'd go to brandings or we work cattle, you know, there was a lot of us young guys that, I mean, you, the ropers couldn't keep up with the wrestlers, and we're now, today, you know, this, this past fall, like I said, that I would sit, I was sitting there, I was wrestling calves and I was sitting there and I was looking around and I'm like, we only had two young fellows and, and the rest of us were we're 45-plus, and I was like, oh my gosh, something needs to happen to turn this around. And, and, you know, tradition and tradition, there is, there is a tradition in agriculture and, and we're going to have to we're at the, I hate to say it, but I believe we're getting to a point and this day and age that we're going to have to reflect and turn back and grasp some of, some of that knowledge from the past to help us to maintain and continue to help our, our, our business, you know, whether it's a crop, whether it's livestock, um, it don't matter. We're going to have to turn around and reach back to the past and bring that knowledge with us. You know, um, the environment is changing and, and, and I believe that it's the traditions... I mean, you look at what they've went through in the past, and they didn't have the technology they had today that we have today. And so with that, there was a great knowledge and, uh, and, and, uh, know how to, to make things work in a way that it didn't run them out of business.

Matt:

Yeah. We, I think every day we have to balance things, but balancing tradition with technology is, is probably one of the toughest things. And, um, in my short lifetime, well, I guess it's longer than I want to admit, but I know growing up there in the eighties, I felt like we, as agriculture did our best to, um, to, to tamp down this notion of the old man and lady on American Gothic holding their pitchforks outside of their farmhouse, and we talked about all the technology that we were using and yeah, that made things better... you know, the tractor instead of the horse and plow, the GPS system instead of your own eyesight... um, there, there are some efficiencies that we gained, but I think we lost some just living with the land and off the land and, and, um, uh, understanding, you know, some things that, uh, that some of our fathers and forefathers had to tackle, and I think we lost a few consumers in the, in the process as well, or, or viewers as you would probably see them there on Yellowstone, who, who want to hear those stories, who want to see that uncertainty and that, that lifestyle, and, and there is a balance. I don't think we need to return to the ways of the 1950s or the 1850s, but, uh, there, there are plenty of nuggets there that, uh, that dads and granddads and grandmothers and, and everyone else that, uh, we could, we could learn from for sure.

Mo:

I totally agree with you.

Matt:

So tell me growing up, let's go way back. Um, where are you from originally? How did you, um, how did you, well, I'll let you tell the story and bring us full circle. And remember we've we've, we've got about 45 minutes, so you can take as long or as little as you want. I can do this for hours, and I guarantee there's plenty of listeners that can listen for hours, but I don't want Taylor Sheridan calling me asking where his main man is.

Mo:

Um, well, I was born on the pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. And, um, I grew up, um, my mother's from the Cheyenne river reservation, which is in central South Dakota. Uh, Pine Ridge is just south of the black Hills of South Dakota as well. And, um, we also had relatives on the Rosebud reservation, which is just next door to pine Ridge. And so I had the opportunity to grow up on all three reservations and a lot of my family members are cattle ranchers. And so growing up as a kid, you know, uh, horses were, were my escape goat from the trials and tribulations of being a native back in them days. And, and it took me to a different place you know. Uh, it took me to a more peaceful place. I think what it was was that, it took my mind away from the focus of myself to knowing that we had cattle to take care of, or we had to move, or we had to work and also riding green broke horses too, you know, and so, um, it kept my mind very occupied and it didn't give me a chance to slow down enough to think about what was happening and, and, um, in my own existence. And so that was where I really connected with the horse and, horses really, truly saved my life. You know? I, I became more and more, what, for me, I wanted to become more of one with the horse and, and just, not just mentally, but, you know, Emotionally as well. Um, I had a lot of conversations riding through pastures by myself or riding down the fence line and, and had a lot of conversations with the horse that I was riding at the time and wanting to be best friends with them, you know? And so that kind of led to the ability to ride. And then when I was younger, I, I dreamt about being a world champion bull rider, the first native American world champion bull rider in the PRCA. So I didn't, I didn't have a lot of knowledge. I didn't even truthfully have a lot of talent, but I had a lot. And, and I was fearless, you know, um, of course, a lot of respect for the bull of what could happen. So of course I was nervous like, heck, but I still had a lot of heart and a lot of try. And, then I got into ridin'... One of my uncles was a saddle... Or a couple of my uncles, but one was, uh, he was. He had a saddle bronc accident and the horse came over on top of him and, and it took his life about a week, week and a half after that accident. And so I got involved as a, as a family member. I wanted to continue to honor who he was because he was a, he was a good man. And so that's why I got involved in rodeo. And so, and I I've rode bareback horses... I stuck with the barebacks and the, and the bulls, but saddle broncs were really scary for me. Uh, I didn't, you know, just kind of dinked around here and there, but nothing serious about it, but bare backs I did try, um, and bulls, I did compete as well. Um, nothin' real huge, but I got scared of the bare backs, and then I just stuck with the bulls for some odd reason. Um, they were guaranteed to buck because back in the day, some of the horses would just take with you from the dead and them smaller, you know, um, lower sanction rodeos. And so I stuck with the bulls for a while and then got hurt, uh, pretty bad. And. Um, I had my share of injuries, but one just kinda, I was done. I was done for a season and in that season I was holding my, my son just with one arm, and I thought, you know, I want to be around when this kid grows up and be able to throw a ball and play catch. And so I hung out and, um, I tried I was trying to be a bull, a bull fighter. I did that for a couple of summers and it was fun, but it was also nerve wracking as well for me. So I had to step away from it all together and, and, uh, just kind of regather my, my senses and my life. And. And then an opportunity came up to do a little work on, on a film, which I knew nothing about. I mean, I didn't dream about being an actor as a kid... You know, I just wanted to be, uh, a horseman, and, and a traditional singer from my people's culture. Um, that, that was really in the professional bull rider on the top of that. But an actor was now nowhere near that realm of dreams, you know? Um, plus I want it to be a math teacher. if I couldn't be either of those things, I also want it to be a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. But nothing worked out and in that avenue and that way. And so I was one of those individuals that always try to look at life in a positive way. You know, I believe in a higher power. I believe in the almighty and, and just took every little opportunity that I was ever given and try to give it 110%, give it my all. And regardless of how long or how short that opportunity existed, I wanted to do to do the best I can. And, um, and met my wife in Overland park, Kansas. Um, she avoided me and played super hard to get at the very beginning and I almost gave up, um, but we eventually got together and, and, we were friends and, started out with friendship and then one thing led to another and here we are, and so I moved to Kansas, you know and, um, the rest is history.

Matt:

For those out of state folks who aren't, uh, who aren't here in Kansas notice that, he didn't hit the big time until he moved to Kansas, right, mo?

Mo:

Here's the crazy part. Just before Yellowstone happened, uh probably about a month and a half before Yellowstone hit. I really contemplated on, on stepping away so much that I talked to my family and I called my agent at the time. And I said, you know, I think I'm done, you know, I'm done, um, because it was so sporadic, you know, I had to try to be somewhat particular on what roles I took. Um, I had the opportunity to portray a couple of heroes of mine as a kid growing up. That was crazy, chief crazy horse and chief sitting bull. And, um, for me that was, you know, a kid that I did. I accomplished something for me. And so I wanted to, I was going to step away from that, from the acting realm, but my family and my agent were both like, wow, let's just finish up the year. Just finish up the year. And I was like, ah, relentless, the, uh, you know, I'm like, all right, fine. We'll finish up the year. And then Yellowstone came about, and, I knew that I was supposed to only be in one episode, uh, in the very first season, and there was no real talk about, you know, ever coming back or reoccurring role on. Um, but I got to the dock, the honor to meet Taylor Sheridan. And we met the first day I showed up on set for a wardrobe fitting and, um, we hit it, we hit it off. And,, here I am and can season five and, and I'm still here.

Matt:

That's awesome. And in a way, bigger part, at least in four than I had seen any of them leading up to it. So, um, if, if the trend continues, I mean, It sounds to me like Costner may be looking for a new, a new role. You may just take the lead by then.

Mo:

I don't know about that.

Matt:

Hey, just be sure don't run Beth off,.

Mo:

I doubt that'll happen.

Matt:

Then there'd be a massive revolt by a lot of folks, I think.

Mo:

Yeah, there would be in. They're amazing actors.

Matt:

They look like. The nice thing about me coming to the party as late as I did on Yellowstone is that I watched them all within a year. And so I, I saw some pretty subtle or maybe not so subtle improvements or, or everybody you could tell everybody are in the groove now. I mean, th the acting and playing off each other, and I know nothing about acting or Hollywood. But it's pretty cool to see just how much it's developed and changed. And, and like you said, the stories, the writing on it is really cool to me because it makes me, as a lifelong rancher who, who. In the Midwest, uh, doesn't have near as much exposure to public lands and, and urban sprawl and, and, um, even working with a native culture right next, across the fence, but still some of the, the issues that, that you all act through and, and bring to light, um, there are some similarities that we have right here in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Different different people, different roles, but still that legacy that they talk about. And some of the some of the things that, uh, that John Dutton says in his role, They, they bring to mind some challenges that all of us have, if we're involved in any kind of family business, I don't care if it's running cows, or what it is., it hits home. It hits home for sure. So that was... that was what, 2018. When did you start on Yellowstone?

Mo:

It was 2016, 20

Matt:

16?

Mo:

Yeah. I believe it was 2016 or 17. I can't recall. It was one of those years. It was in the fall time. It was definitely in the fall, um, when we started it.

Matt:

And have they all been, or most of, most of their, all the filming done in Montana?

Mo:

Um, the first two seasons we did, we did some filming, in Utah, um, and then up here, of course the ranch has always been in Montana. And so there was always scenes down, up here in Montana as well. And, um, and then eventually we made the full on move just strictly into Montana.

Matt:

And are you helping some with 1883 as well, or that a totally different set?

Mo:

No, I, I did. Um, I did do some work on there. It's um, uh, again, as, as a native American coordinator, I I've helped him on that project. And so yeah, it's been real good.

Matt:

Very cool. Lots of fun stuff.

Mo:

Oh, definitely. And it's changed. It's changed. Um, since season four, it's kind of changed my, my whole, my everyday life too as well, you know? Um, we got some other opportunities that have come up, as well. And so it's, you know, I got to do some horseback stuff for, for a new Jurassic film. That's coming out um, that's out in theaters today, I guess... The 10th. Yeah. And so I got to do that. but I did get into getting into the consulting part a little bit more. And so that's a great opportunity for me.

Matt:

Which do you like better acting or consulting?

Mo:

You know, it's, it's both, I really enjoy the acting stuff as well. Um, it's, it's the same. Yeah, it's the same for me, you know, it's, it's both.

Matt:

And then in your free time, you are helping, uh, run some cows they're in a Linn county or somewhere south of Kansas city, is that correct?

Mo:

Yes, sir. Um, that's why I spent my that's, how I spend my winters, you know, um, I help out on a cow calf operation and, and, um, spend all winter long, just nurturing and taking care of cattle, which I enjoy a lot.

Matt:

You've got a lot of firsts that you have achieved. I think you're the first Hollywood actor that I have ever heard say, "That's how I spend my winters... running cows in Eastern Kansas." I don't expect to see Tom cruise, uh, hanging out, checking on, babies in February and March to make sure everything's good, but you never know. You never know. Maybe you've started another trend, Mo. Probably, I don't know. I mean, it's, it gets stressful when those cold windows quit cold winter nights come along. You know, you're worried about your calves. You're worried about the mammas. Um, you just worried about everything you're busting ice first thing in the mornings, um, and so I had good help too, as well. And so, you know, we, we made it work and, and I think we were, we only lost one calf and it wasn't because of, you know, something we didn't do. It was just that, um, when we moved to heard, uh, One of the mamas was hiding up pretty good in an area we didn't know. And we went back the following day because we saw her in there and her calf didn't make it, but, you know, that's, that's the hard part, you know, and, and so, um, but we, we fared really well, this, this winter, and so it was good. Good, good, good. You mentioned your son. Is it your son? That's the, uh, that's the cross country runner?

Mo:

He's uh, my nephew, my sister's, um, one of her boys, but, um, Just kind of teaching them. Cause I need someone to carry it on where there's, you know, within the family and have that same love for horses and everything else, and he's a good kid. He loves, he loves everything that we do, and he's good. He's a real good, hard worker and heck of a runner that's for sure.

Matt:

Um, our son Lyle was running cross country there last, last fall for Eureka. And he told me that he had seen his time, and I don't even remember now what it was, but, uh, it was pretty impressive. Lyle was just shaking his head, like a, yeah. I won't even see him within a few yards of the starting line for the rest of the race.

Mo:

No. And I, and you know, it was an honor to meet Lyle, too, he's a great kid as well. You got a good hand.

Matt:

Yup. Luckily, his mother's genetics are, are strong in all the kids.

Mo:

Uh it's I think it's both you. And so it's just really good to see good kids like that. You know, it just brings a lot of hope to me and in today's time.

Matt:

Yup. Yup. I would agree. And I've said it before, but I'm going along with, with what you were talking about before and the things that we learn, whether it be a native culture or the cowboy culture. I think one of the most valuable things we produce on these ranches, is probably the kids that we send on to another job, to another university, to another company, wherever they go. The things that, you know, we say it all the time, but you can't teach a lot of these lessons that they, that they see about um, You know, whether it be the hard work and dedication and, and understanding that even when you do something exactly right, mother, nature's gonna sock you with a storm or whatever else, and it still doesn't end up right, uh, or still doesn't end up as you wanted it. But also just, um, the, the knowledge of seeing the challenge, stepping up to it and, and taking care of it. Not everybody, not everybody gets that opportunity to do that everyday and see that done by the neighbors and the family and everything else. It, uh, even if, even if you make it onto the big screen, I guess those lessons that you learned, um, whether it be on the Rosebud or the pine Ridge or wherever, the Flint Hills of Kansas, uh, they, they, they don't go unnoticed, I guess. And I would say that's probably contributed to the success you've seen over the last few years is what is that foundation you had up there.

Mo:

Yes, sir. I mean, that's the whole, a whole thing. I mean, I'm a firm believer that. You know, I, I look at my father. Um, we grew up with no electricity, no running water, too expensive to get a water line put into where were, where we were at and, and electrical lines. But, you know, those were, those were the best days of my life. We always had food in our belly. We always had warmth in the winter time and a roof over our heads and clothes on our back. And, and, and my father always, you know, that's one thing that, that I respect about him the most is that yeah, he was hard. He was, it was, it was learn life's lessons that he goes preparedness. And he taught us those work ethics, you know, um, we woke up every day knowing that we had something to do and, and, and it was, it was to help help us, you know, in our everyday life. And so we got up doing that, you know, I, I guarantee I probably shoveled millions of tons of snow in my younger years. And hauled a lot of water and for everything. And, and so it was, it was good times, you know? cause again, it was just, it was, it was just life's lessons. You know, I, I witnessed everything. Remember one summer we started cutting wood and towards the end of July and we normally wouldn't start cutting wood, uh, probably about right around Labor Day, um, the first part of September and I asked my dad, you know why it's still summertime, it's really super hot. Why are we cutting wood now? And he said, he looked at me. He said, do you know when winter is going to hit? I said, no. He said, okay, neither do I, but we gotta be prepared. And so, you know, I was like, alright, I get it. It's all about preparation.

Matt:

Yeah. And that was probably one of those years that, um, you had a Norther come through in September and he probably just kind of nodded his head and smiled if he was anything like, like a lot of dads.

Mo:

Yeah. It, and we had snow drifts that were about 12 to 14 foot tall and 20 to 30 foot long. I mean, we were snowed in for, uh, two weeks.

Matt:

You didn't run out of wood, right?

Mo:

No, we didn't. We did not run out of wood. We were, we were set and, and I could just, I, I already heard his voice. My head..." told you."

Matt:

Yep. We've all. We've all heard that one. Yeah. So what's tell me a typical day of when you're filming what what's a typical day on set?

Mo:

Um, you know, it's, it's now with, with my role had with the expansion of my role, um, it's it's about getting lines memorized. It's it's, it's, it's just trying to stay in that space, you know, uh, mentally and emotionally, and for me, it's, it's for me as, as, as my character, it's a lot of what I, what I do on the show, it's a lot of real life experiences. And so I reflect back to those moments, whether they are positive or negative, it don't matter because for me, a lot of those negative moments made me more of who I am today. And, and so I, I, I try to go back to that time. To that moment and try to hang on to that and, um, just to try to stay in that space so that you can, you know, really not just say your lines, but also share them with, you know, what, whatever moment it is or what the scene is about that, so it's just still preparations clear up to when the moment they say, "action."

Matt:

That's that's something I never think about, but the great ones... That's what you do. You don't, you don't just recite the lines, you live the lines and you make it believable and put us where we need to be to actually see it as art, not just people talking on a screen and that's it. Timing wise. I mean, do you film all day? Is it usually done? I mean, I guess some scenes would have to be done at night. Some scenes would have to be early in the morning and vice versa, but, um, is it an all day, every day affair?

Mo:

Yeah, it's it's it's every day, um, five days a week, for sure. And that times, six days a week and, and the scenes, it all depends on how many moving parts there are. If there's horses involved, there's livestock involved, um, then it tends to take longer. Even if there's a whole, uh, group of folks that are, you know, background, it tends to take a little bit, you know, not as long as with horses in livestock, but you know, it still takes a period of time. And if it's just, you know, just a few players that are in the scene, then it, it rolls by pretty quick. And so it's, there's moments that you film at night where it's all night long. Um, and so you'll start that day a little bit later, and, and there are some moments where they'll start in the afternoon to try to get one scene with the light, with the sunlight done, and then they're able to shoot a night scene as well. And so your days could be anywhere from ten to 14 hours long. And at time's a little bit longer, you know, it's just like ranching or farming again, you know? So it's, it's yeah, I'm pretty, pretty used to it.

Matt:

And you live there. I mean, you stay fairly close to the sad or where are you right now? According to.

Mo:

Right right now. Yeah, I I'm, um, you know, I'm real close to where I need to be. Um, and, and other times I, I can fly back and forth, but at the moment, just to get things rocking and rolling means I'm wearing the, the consulting, the native Americans consulting hat. Um, I'd have to be here for. For this time. And so it's, it all depends, you know, um, in the years past, prior to season four, I was able to fly back and forth because they didn't quite, they wanted to do something with my, with my character, but they, they weren't sure which path to take him down. And so, um, but when the pandemic hit and during season four, we had to, all of us had to reside up here in Montana. Um, for that time, you know, and, and we had to stay within what they call it, the Yellowstone bubble. And so, um, just to keep things rolling, because if something happened, then if they had to shut down for a day or few days, then that became very expensive, you know, because you look at how many folks... we have oh, about 500 employees, um, from cast to crew. And, and so that's, that's a lot of dollars that are spent daily and whether we are filming or not, it's still a lot of dollars that, you know, so you have to keep in mind also there's a budget that we have to stay within. And so, You know, if we have to take our are the certain steps that we need to do, as well as whether it's cast members or crew to, to help make sure that the ship can run smoothly as possible. So, you know, it's on all of us as well,

Matt:

and do you go in a fairly steady chronology where you film parts of the first episode of a season and then the second and third, or is it totally mixed up and spliced together after, after you get everything cut? Um, there's uh, with the there's so many, cast members that are.

Mo:

Doing other projects as well, but not a whole lot. And so you have to take in consideration their scheduling as well. Um, and so it, in the years past, we were able to kind of go along, and in order of the episodes, but now we're kind of bouncing back and forth between different scenes and stuff. And so it, it, it, it happened on a lot of projects.

Matt:

The challenges of fame, it's, it's an indication to success, right. For all of you. Right,

Mo:

right, right. And so it's, it's a good thing. Um, because of the popularity of the show that has grown, you know, tremendously, and especially with season four. Uh, so you're not the only late comer, there's quite a few late comers that discovered the show. Um, and, and so it's, it's real good. It's a good thing. You know, and so we were just kind of, and the thing is that you may shoot one part of a scene one day, and then a week later you might shoot the other half of that scene. And so that's why, when I say you have to go back into that mode to try to stay, you know, is, is so important, sorry the dogs are doing their thing. And so the, to try to stay, to try to get back to those. Yeah, emotionally, mentally, you know, where the challenge comes in, you know, what was I feeling? What, how did I, you know, what was my, my demeanor or what was my body movement and the first half of that scene. And so you try to, you know, recaptivate all of that, and the second part of that, that you may be shooting a week or two later,

Matt:

do you go back and look at, do you go back and watch that first part unedited, so you can remember, or are you just able to put yourself in that place without seeing how it is that you interpreted it two weeks prior?

Mo:

Well, you know, for me, I make little notes ,and so I don't get to go back and watch what we'd done before it is what it is, you know? And so I make little notes, so you can carry that over into the next part as well, and, and I don't know how other people do it. I just kinda know what I do myself. It helps me out.

Matt:

So are you, as far as your acting career, are you completely self-taught and just learned by watching those around you, how, how did, how did your preparation for this happen?

Mo:

Um, I, you know, I was asking a lot of when I was living back home, I was asking our young people, why aren't you proud of your cultural identity? And the number one to answer that always seemed to pop up was, you know, well, we don't see ourselves on television. And so I had to, for me, I'm like, well, how can I change that? And, and I thought, well, shoot, I have to do something about that. And so I talked to some of the elders, um, you know, like, like Leonard Crow Dog, and, and others. And, they encouraged me. They said, you know, you have something to offer and so you, you should do that, you know, um, and a good friend of mine in rapid city, South Dakota named Jim Hatzolah, who, who worked on Dances With Wolves, and other, so many other projects, he also was, a key player in me making that move. And so I packed up what I had, um, moved to Omaha, Nebraska, because I found out that Marlon Brando and Henry Fonda, both started at the community theater there. And so I moved to Omaha Nebraska, um, had enough money saved up that I can get a hotel room, you know, by the week. And so I did that found a regular job and then start making my move. I went and, and start working at taking acting classes and, and so on and so forth. And, and so it got me, it got me started because I did some theater. Um, it was very challenging, but it brought me out my shell. And, and so, uh, that was kind of that process. And, um, and then, you know, bits and the small bits and small roles here and there, like I said, it was sporadic, and so I had to maintain a regular job so I wasn't a starving actor and didn't get desperate, I continued to work as a, as a painter and welder and did some other stuff, um, for a wheel company in Omaha, Nebraska. And then, um, shoot, heck it just kind of began to evolve from there. And the thing that I think I had gone for me the most was just the ability to ride horses.

Matt:

It all comes back to, uh, some of that foundation that, uh, that you learned, as a kid, it sounds like. When were you in Omaha? Then?

Mo:

I was in Omaha and the early, it was probably right around 2003, four, but 2003, maybe even as 2002. I can't recall. Um, but that's when I made my move to Omaha, Nebraska.

Matt:

So you're a, a, you're a 20 year overnight success in acting, right?

Mo:

I don't know right now, I think for me, it's just, I finally the cat got kind of pushed over that hill, with, with Yellowstone. I did some other stuff before, prior to that, but never really anything that was familiar to me, outside of playing, you know, traditional leaders, and riding horses bare backs on and so forth, uh, it was just Yellowstone was the one that, that broke that, that door down for me and, and just kind of helped me through it, you know, and I owe lot of that to Taylor Sheridan. And Gil Birmingham, who also plays the Tribal Chairman on the show, you know, it was both of them to, you know. Gil and I, we, we knew each other, we were acquaintances prior, to Yellowstone, but we, our brotherhood bond you know, grew tremendously um, since we've been working on this show and it was Guild who suggested to Taylor, he said, Hey, Mo knows how to ride horse. And he is a horse guy and, and, and so Taylor was like, oh, okay, well, I got a Buffalo hunting scene and, and I need some native guys on horses. So how about next week? And I was like, "Sure!" And next thing you know, I ended up in the background of every episode of season one and kind of became, you know, um, my character became Rainwater's, um, driver and his right-hand man and moved into his body guard and, and kind of his teacher of traditions as well, you know, and so, yeah, it was, it was really amazing, you know, I'm thankful that that Gil, you know, I've had a hand in that as well. So I got credit where credit is due. Steve.

Matt:

That's that's great. Um, the thing that I come back to is that as a kid, how all this started was simply you asking those around you, "Why aren't you proud of your cultural heritage?" And instead of shrugging your shoulders and saying, well, you know, whatever adjective you want to assign to the fact that we're underrepresented, or adverb, I guess, I'm just going to take it. Instead, you said, "you know what? I can, I can do something about this." And as you talked to people, they encouraged you to do so. And you didn't just sit by and demand something from someone, you went out and got after it. And, and to be quite blunt; this is, this is one white guy that you have really taught a lot about the native American culture. And just through that, acting through that little little bit, and of course through Taylor's writing that brings it out. But I'm just, know, if you haven't figured it out yet, that you are moving the needle, just like you wanted to, when you talked to those to those folks around you as a, as a kid.

Mo:

Yeah, I appreciate that, Matt. I mean, you know, it's, it's, um, a lot of it too, Taylor Taylor spent a lot of time with, with the family particular family from my reservation in his younger years, and so that was his part of the, the change for him as well. And, and the many places that I've been to, um, and the many different projects that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of, you know, there was a space for, uh, for native people, but that space was very small and it was always in the back of the room. Where Taylor is the first individual that I've ever come across who, who said, "no, you don't belong back there, get up here." And he made space at that table and, and allowed us, allowed us to sit beside him at that, at that very table that for many years, we have never had that opportunity. And so, and on the other side of him, he's also made space for, for Cowboys. I mean, look at Forrie Smith, for example, who's been a stunt guy for many years and has now been catapulted into being a star, you know, and he's a legitimate hand and, and, you know, and so Taylor's also made space at the table for that, you know, for that side, too. And so it's, you know, Taylor's been, you know, I be blunt about it. He's been Heaven- sent to, to both cultures and, he's legitimate. And again, when he writes a lot of his writing is due to his own life experiences, you know? And so this isn't stuff that he's just making up, he's reflecting and, and, and he still holds true to who in all of this, you know, on all of this, this lime light that he's received, he still stands true to who he is as a human being. And I, that I admire him for who he is, you know? and I'm very thankful.

Matt:

I think that's what has brought so many folks in as fans, especially, and maybe, maybe the reason that I just started watching it, maybe the other millions of people who just started watching it... Post -pandemic. Um, I think that realness and that connection to our ancestry and our history and, and maybe that bluntness that, that we see, there's not a lot of, uh, there's not a lot of Polish on whether it be Beth or Rip or, or any of them. Um, and, and in some ways we've gotten so polished and so safe and so hesitant as a society to hurt someone's feelings or to say something that might not be politically correct. Um, I think some of the return to, to Yellowstone over the last year or two may be just because of timing. If you'd tried this 10 years ago, it may or may not have had the, uh, the value, but man, he you're right. Taylor Sheridan, and, and, and all of you. Do such a great job of capturing that. And it's, I hate reality TV, but in its real nature, um, that to me is a whole lot more real than, than anything else. So I, I would guess that that's a, that's a lot of what, what people are seeing and that's why you're seeing success come your way and opportunities to, to continue that. And, and I hope, I guess, as an American, I hope that, uh, That we continue to get back to that, as you said, that, that Western, that cowboy and native culture that works together and, and that, you know, learns things from our ancestors and molds them in with the technologies today and learns to respect the land around us and respect our Father and, and everything else that's brought us this far. And I think that, uh, it just, again, it's, it's a, it's a, a great combination in, in the show and everything that you all do,

Mo:

you know, and that's true. I mean, it's, and for me, I mean, like I said, I'm getting to wear a couple of different hats for the season and, and the one hat, the acting hat, you know, I'm able to do myself, but the other hat, you know, it takes a team, you know, on, and I'm fortunate enough to have Sarah Ann, who's who plays my wife in season four, but also as a role, my real wife. And, and so, um, she's a lot of a lot of help in what I do with the coordinating hat on, you know, and she helps me out tremendously. And I mean, I know the traditions and our culture, but when it comes to, you know, um, writing documents down or even the technology aspect of everything, um, AirPods, AirPods, whatever needs that, you know, she's, she's there. And so I really appreciate who she is as well and as, as you know, as an amazing, intelligent, smart woman who are intelligent woman, who's, you know, been there to encourage me and to help me out in so many aspects of this business that, you know, I, at times I want to give up on, uh, before Yellowstone, but, you know, she was always encouraging and stuff and, and boy, it just can't be thankful enough. You know, when I was younger, real quick story, when I was younger, I told some of my friends, you know, long down I'm going to marry myself rodeo queen, like yeah, right. You Mo? I was kind of a wild man, you know, I was a rough stock rider and you know, what kind of did, I was wasn't I was a wild man. I'm not going to lie. And, and um, and then, you know, Here that, that it did happen. It ha you know, I didn't, I kind of gave up on it myself. Yeah. That's a far off, you know, crazy, crazy dream, but it ended up happening. She was, you know, miss rodeo Kansas in 2003, and here we are, you know, Um, she is a great horse person as well. Um, I think a better rider than I am, you know, she can ride horses like crazy. And, and so, uh, it's really good, you know, to have that, that, that, that common, you know, something that we both care about and share and stuff. So good stuff

Matt:

That is great. Rider take it from a guy who has always appreciated horses, but wasn't near as good a rider as he thought he was... me, um, another guy that married a horse person who was a hell of a lot better rider than he was. So, um, I guess, uh, I at least have one thing in common with you Mo ...we married up in the horsemanship department.

Mo:

I agree there. Yeah, that's good. Well, I, uh, I just, man, I again, could go on forever. I've got worlds of questions. And, and I know that, uh, other folks who are going to be listening here will say, why didn't you ask this or that? But, um, I, I don't want to take any more of your time. I told you we'd get this wrapped up. And I, again, I don't want to keep you from the, from the real job, but, um, thank you so much for your time and your thoughtful way of going about this discussion and, and, uh, and thanks for what you're doing on Yellowstone, because I, like I said, whether it be for, for the ranching culture or the native culture, or just Americans in general, whether that was Taylor Sheridan's intent or not, whether that was you and the rest of your cast members intent or not, I think it's what you're doing. I think it's one of the most valuable things that you're doing. And, and I thank you for. Oh, thank you for having me on the show, Matt. Really appreciate it. We'll have to do it again. I think that'll be great. I may hold you to it. So tell Sarah Ann, thank you very much. And I can't wait to see you on season five now. Thank you very much and give your family our best.

Matt:

We'll do it. Thanks

Mo:

Mo. Thank you. We'll see ya.

Matt:

Thanks for joining us for practically ranching, brought to you by Dalebanks Angus. We hope we made you think. Or chuckle or even yell a little, if you enjoyed the podcast. Heck even if you didn't, help us improve by leaving a comment with your review wherever you heard us. And if you want to listen again, click subscribe and catch us next week. God bless, and we look forward to visiting again soon.