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How much progress has Hawaiʻi's film industry made for Hawaiian actors?

Waikiki The Film

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase the annual tax credit to attract more movie and television productions to film in Hawaiʻi, while the local film industry continues to work on increasing acting opportunities for Native Hawaiians.

Hollywood has had a presence here for more than a hundred years, but the onscreen opportunities for Native Hawaiians have remained limited. Jason Momoa's upcoming television series "Chief of War" is the most recent major production to dramatize a story from Hawaiʻi’s history. It is being filmed primarily in New Zealand.

When Maori actors were cast in the majority of the main roles, many Hawaiians took to social media to vent their frustration. Why were local actors passed over and what kind of progress have Native Hawaiian actors actually made?

The Conversation sat down with Hawaiʻi State Film Commissioner and Native Hawaiian Donne Dawson, and Emmy-winning casting director Katie Doyle to learn more about local film and television production.

Donne Dawson, Katie Doyle Extended Interview

This interview aired on The Conversation on Feb. 24, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1. 

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation and host of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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