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

Food trucks will be allowed to operate in several Sooke parks beginning May 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke’s food truck pilot project under scrutiny

Councillor questions impact food trucks will have on nearby restaurants

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
PHOTOS: Vehicle driven into Saanich Walmart removed after two trapped workers rescued

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Tons of bottles were donated during bottle drives in Sooke and Langford on March 27. The funds raised from the drives will help a local family stay with their daughter during her leukemia treatments in Vancouver. (Photos: Glendora Scarfone)
Sooke, Langford bottle drives help cover family’s costs of staying with daughter during cancer treatments

More than $11,900 raised to help Shae Hanilton’s family stay with her in Vancouver

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Most Read