Native writer/producer Sierra Teller Ornelas of ‘Rutherford Falls’ extends deal with Universal Television

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Sierra Teller Ornelas [Courtesy photo]

Sierra Teller Ornelas, the Navajo co-creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Peacock Original streaming series “Rutherford Falls,” has extended her overall deal with Universal Television, the studio behind the series.

With her new deal, Ornelas will continue to develop new projects for UTV, a division of Universal Studio Group, to air on various platforms, according to Deadline.

“I am elated to continue this wonderful partnership with Universal Television,” said Ornelas, per Deadline.

Prior to her work on “Rutherford Falls,” Ornelas’ worked as co-executive producer on NBC’s “Superstore” and ABC’s “Splitting Up Together.”

“Sierra is an incredibly ambitious and passionate writer and producer who brings a sense of purpose and infectious comedic wit to everything she touches,” said Erin Underhill, president of Universal Television, per Deadline. “From her time on ‘Superstore’ to recently as co-creator of ‘Rutherford Falls,’ she’s been terrific to work with, and we are grateful and excited to continue our partnership with her at UTV.”

Previously, Ornelas was a producer on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a co-producer on ABC’s “Selfie,” an executive story editor on Fox’s “Surviving Jack” and a story editor on ABC’s “Happy Endings.”

Ornelas is currently working on UTV’s Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard project starring Maya Rudolph for Apple TV+, Deadline reports.

“Rutherford Falls” co-creators and executive producers Ed Helms and Sierra Teller Ornelas appear at the Autry Museum of the American West on Saturday, June 26, 2021. [Photo by Randy Shropshire / Peacock]

In addition, her Peacock Original comedy series “Rutherford Falls” was recently renewed for a second season.

“We are beyond ecstatic for Season 2! I’m probably slightly biased, but ‘Rutherford Falls’ is made by the best writers, cast, and crew, on earth. Not to mention (co-creators and executive producers) Ed Helms and Mike Schur, two of the nicest guys in the business. We are very grateful to the folks at Universal Television and Peacock for continuing to champion indigenous comedies,” said Ornelas in a statement.

The comedy centers on lifelong best friends, Nathan Rutherford (Helms) and Reagan Wells (Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux actor Jana Schmieding), who find themselves at a crossroads – quite literally – when their sleepy town gets an unexpected wakeup call.

The series also stars Jesse Leigh (“Heathers”), Dustin Milligan (“Schitt’s Creek”) and indigenous Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes (“I Know This Much Is True”). Greyeyes is Nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation – Treaty Six Territory in Saskatchewan.

“We are thrilled that Peacock has renewed ‘Rutherford Falls’ for a second season,” Underhill said in a statement. “It’s been wonderful to watch Reagan, Nathan, Bobbie, Terry, and the rest of the Rutherford Fallians come to life in this ambitiously witty series. Mike, Sierra and Ed poured their creative geniuses into the show, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”

“Rutherford Falls” boasts one of the largest indigenous writer’s rooms on television, with five Native writers staffed on the series, including Ornelas, Schmieding, Bobby Wilson (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), Tai Leclaire (Kanien’kehá:ka [Mohawk Nation]/Mi’kmaq) and Tazbah Chavez (Bishop Paiute/Diné/San Carlos Apache).

“We are so proud to be a part of ‘Rutherford Falls,’ a smart comedy and a breakthrough moment for Native representation in comedy both in front of and behind the camera,” said Lisa Katz, president of scripted content for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, in a statement.

“’Rutherford Falls’ embodies the modern, original, and inclusive storytelling viewers want and we are excited to develop season two alongside Sierra, Mike, Ed and the incredible cast.”

The series first season has reached 94% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, earning it “Certified Fresh” status.



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