Keilani Elizabeth Rose. Photography by Lia Crowe

In Studio interview With Keilani Rose

Actor, Dancer, DJ, Producer has several projects on the go

  • Mar. 26, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Lin Stranberg Photography by Lia Crowe

Keilani Elizabeth Rose is a Vancouver-based young woman with multiple talents, deep convictions and a very busy calendar. She dances, acts, writes, produces and even deejays—andshe makes her feature film debut this winter in The Sinners, a teen cult thriller that premiered at California’s Mammoth Lakes Film Festival under its pre-Netflix title of The Color Rose.

She has several projects on the go, all of which began during the pandemic.

“My best way of coping is to create,” she said.

So when COVID-19 hit last spring, she co-created FLIMSY, a web series, with two-time Grammy winner Printz Board and an all-star cast.

FLIMSY was born because we desperately needed some light and love to take our minds off of the heavy time the world was in. We found an innovative way to film in isolation, bring our community together across borders and countries despite the lockdown, and make some art. It kept our minds distracted, our hearts hopeful and the frequency positive.”

FLIMSY went on to win awards at international festivals, and Keilani went on to another collaboration with Printz Board on Within the Silence, a short film about domestic abuse involving a hearing-impaired seven-year-old, which she hopes will draw some much-needed attention to the disabled community.

After a deejaying stint in Tulum this winter, she’s back in Vancouver for a project dear to her heart. She’ll produce and play the lead in Breathe, an experimental short written by Cody Kearsley (of The CW’s Riverdale).

“Our hope is to uplift communities struggling with addiction and substance abuse, specifically the Indigenous community. Part of our exploration with this film is to create awarenessof the destructive generational effects of colonization on Indigenous peoples. It’s important to us to share this story through a resilient lens, which inspired us to establish the first Native Youth Mentorship Program, inviting local Indigenous youth to shadow crew members during principal filming so they can get a feel for the industry. I want them to know they can have a place and a voice here.”

As part of her journey, Keilani has also started to write her first feature film, a story about an Indigenous girl who survives the foster care system as part of the “Sixties Scoop” and finds her way back to the strength of her family and her community. Its working title is Sunflower. Keilani identifies strongly with the Indigenous community and her intersectional cultural heritage: she grew up in Prince George, BC, with a Hawaiian mother and Lheidli T’enneh antecedents, including the famed Granny Seymour, a highly honoured elder of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation.

“Storytelling is part of my existence,” she said. “My people, both Lheidli T’enneh and Hawaiian, never had a written language before colonization: history, knowledge and culture had always been traditionally shared through stories, song, dance and chant. This is a beautiful way of life I get to represent and perpetuate with my creativity.”

Her Hawaiian mother, an accomplished hula dancer, was a huge influence.

“She really instilled in my sisters and me valuable lessons about creativity, following your heart and fighting for your beliefs. We grew up in poverty but our home was always filled with joy and love. Mamma made sure of that. She can make magic out of anything.”

With the support of her mom and her community, she was able to study dance as she grew up.

“Seeing all the sacrifices my mom made so that my sisters and I could grow up with our artistic outlets is something that stays with me every step of the way. Without her selflessness, my sisters and I would not be where we are today. We were also blessed to have in our corner angels like Judy Russell and Bunny Murray at Enchainement Dance Centre, who made space for us to access our brightest potential.”

Keilani was the first recipient of the Performers North Special Assistance Fund, established to enable underprivileged kids to participate in the company’s festival tours that their families otherwise couldn’t afford.

“This was my first experience with a community that stood for inclusivity. That feeling of people believing in you so deeply is a driving force for me to do everything I can to make it count, and do my part to give back and make space to include others with less privilege whenever I have the chance. “

She moved to Vancouver to pursue dance and landed a contract on the Disney Dream, part of the Disney Cruise Line, which introduced her to Broadway-level production values. Dancing at that level led her to an agent, and that led her to acting.

Right before her big break on screen, Keilani got excited about deejaying. She quickly became professional and played on the international circuit, as well as for local legends like the Vancouver Canucks hockey team and musicians Tegan & Sara. Her signature sets weave together stories and messages through music, which has always been a big thing in her family. Her sisters Tiare and KeAloha play ukulele, her uncles played drums, and KeAloha also sings and writes music.

“Music and dance and acting are so complementary that I feel the strength and diversity they give my artistry. Acting reconnected me to the power of my voice and led me to the questions, ‘What stories do I need to tell?’ ‘Whose stories need to be elevated and amplified?’ and ‘How can we create greater unity and compassion by sharing these stories?’”

She adds: “Especially right now, with the momentum of awareness and progression for the #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and #IndigenousSovereignty movements and the fight against Indigenous invisibility, we as artists really get to recognize the power we hold with our platforms and make informed, deliberate choices about the content we create to promote unity and equality.

“Representation matters so much. And being a female person of colour in this industry gives me the ability to influence great change. It is a responsibility that fills me with purpose and inspiration.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

EntertainmentFashionMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Savanah Sanchez with a likeness of herself in a Canucks’ uniform done by her mom Jessica. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Girl’s passion for hockey knows no bounds

No games, but extensive ice time for training beneficial to Sanchez

Fuller Lake Skating Club.
Figure skating and CanSkate awards presented on the ice

Deserving individuals still recognized in pandemic season

New logo unveiled. (Submitted)
Board of Education seeking feedback on 2021-2022 budget

Public helps determine the allocation of resources

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Opportunity for input on campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

Most Read