Lou Diamond Phillips has played many nationalities in his career, including Cheyenne on Longmire, with great accuracy - so how does he do it?

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Phillips plays Henry Standing Bear on Longmire, a member of the native Cheyenne tribe. He is also known for playing Richie Valens (Mexican American) in La Bamba and now a Chilean miner in the new film The 33.

The actor spoke on The Tavis Smiley Show recently about playing roles that represent various communities and how he takes it seriously.

How 'Longmire' Star Lou Diamond Phillips Honors Native Americans Through Performance

"I've been very proud to represent many, many communities - occasionally white guys too - throughout my career," Phillips said. "I always try to do it with respect, and with specificity - that's the thing is that you can't just play Latino, you can't just play Indian. You have to understand the community, the specific attributes of any given culture. For me that's what I've tried to get right over the years."

Phillips spoke of how playing such characters allows both him and the audience to learn more about their culture.

"To be an ambassador if you will, to be a representative and a cultural representative so many times, whether its the Inuit in the far north or the Cheyenne like on Longmire or a Chilean miner, I am not only telling these stories to the world, I have the privilege of learning and embracing and continued to have this life experience that my career allows me to have," he explained.

With Longmire, Phillips is playing one of few prominent Native American characters on television. The show is now going into its fifth season, which is slated to premiere next year.

Longmire season 5 is expected to be released on Netflix in Sept. 2016.