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Kristina Anapau has been an actress since 1997, when she made her screen debut in Escape from Atlantis. Since then she’s appeared on stage, and continued to appear on screen in movies such as Black Swan (2010), and Cornered (2011). Kristina has worked steadily in television as well, bagging guest spots on shows such as CSI: NY and House, and a recurring role on True Blood. She is even more talented, having trained as a classical ballerina as a child, while also being a classically trained pianist. More recently, Kristina has had articles published in a variety of magazines including The Hollywood Film Journal. Her work on the Hawaii-based production, Kuleana (2017), prompted thedullwoodexperiment to interview her about the movie and filming it in the US state where she was born.

How did you come to be involved with Kuleana?

I met the director, Brian Kohne, back in 2011 at The Big Island Film Festival – his first feature won [the] Grand Jury Prize that year. He sent me an earlier version of the Kuleana script about a year later – every time he sent a new draft, I thought the script just couldn’t get any better, but it did. Every time. It was such a beautiful story, I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away.

How did you approach the character of Rose, and were there any particular challenges to playing the role?

I drew a lot from certain elements of myself in creating Rose – Brian and I spoke a lot about her before filming – [and] added layers upon layers. Rose was a pleasure to portray. I think the only challenge were the “fake” cigarettes I had to smoke all day in the scene at the police station. I swear there was something else in those cigarettes!

What was it like working with Brian Kohne?

Brian is so lovely to work with. He has a vision for exactly what he wants to see on screen and puts 200% into everything he does. His creative drive is infectious, and you can’t help but want to join in to help bring that vision to life.

The movie reflects on a turbulent time in Hawaiian history – how much were you aware  of before coming on board?

This film was definitely an education for me in that regard! I’m not a Hawaiian history buff to say the least, and wasn’t born until about ten years later, so I learned a lot about the cultural upheaval of that time period during the making of this film.

How important is your Hawaiian heritage to you both personally and professionally?

I actually don’t have any Hawaiian heritage other than having been born there. My parents both came from the mainland U.S. shortly before meeting there in the 70’s – Anapau is my middle name. My real last name is Roper – British heritage on my Dad’s side and Swedish and German on my Mother’s. Although I just sent my 23andMe kit in, so ask me again in 6 weeks! Maybe I’ll discover a surprise in there!

How was it filming on Maui?

It’s always lovely to go home to Hawaii and Maui is an island I had never explored. A beautiful place to film!

What’s the vibe like in Hawaii in terms of the film industry there?

I haven’t actually spent too much time around the Hawaii film industry other than while making Kuleana and attending a few film fests throughout the years, but everyone seems very driven – very creative – I’m really hoping that Brian’s success with Kuleana will open the door for local filmmakers in a big way.

You were an executive producer on Kuleana – do you see yourself supporting other Hawaiian movies in a similar way in the future?

If the right project came along. Absolutely.

You were awarded a special No Ka Ai award at the 2011 Big Island Film Festival – how important was that to you?

It was a wonderful honor – it was such a special event to be a part of.

Away from acting, you’re a writer and a musician, and you trained to be a classical ballerina – do you have any other ambitions within the arts?

Just to write more!

Who has influenced you the most in terms of your career?

Linda P. Brown. In terms of my career. My life. Everything.

And finally, what’s next for Kristina Anapau?

Last year I co-created and produced a kids show with award-winning host and comic John Kerwin. It’s essentially The Tonight Show for kids – we have all the young stars of Disney, Nickelodeon, and everywhere else – kids in the audience – it’s a lot of fun. It has been airing nationwide on DirecTV, but [is] about to launch across a variety of big streaming platforms, so keep an eye out, we will be everywhere. Follow us on insta@johnkerwinkidsshow for all the latest! So, very busy with that – I have a few more projects in development as well. Writing and producing are my main focuses now.