Soo’intoh, aloha. My name is Keilani Rose. I’m the oldest of three siblings raised by a single wonder-woman. I am from mixed Indigenous roots (Lheidli T’enneh (The People where the Two Rivers Flow Together), also colonially known as Prince George) and a descendant of Polynesian Navigators from the islands of Hawai’i and Tahiti); I am also of Irish settler and Chinese immigrant heritage. I’m an artist based in so-called Vancouver, Canada—what is the unceded, unsurrendered, ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
You’re a self-described triple threat: actor, DJ, and dancer, and I saw you do even more, such as write and produce. How did you find these paths? How do you balance them?
I feel like these different forms of expression have all been inside of me all along. With each phase of growth as I learn more about myself and how I like to connect with my communities, so much new awareness and inspiration surfaces. I’ve just been following the invitations and open doors into these different worlds that have called me. So far, the balance has been divinely aligned in a beautiful, complimentary flow.
What are the differences between how you tackle a new project in these different disciplines? What are your first steps? Where do you find inspiration?
I find there’s a through line with all of it. The initial motivation comes from a desire to amplify a voice and share a story that needs to be told, whether it’s through movement or music or on screen. Then that driving purpose to perpetuate representation accurately and respectfully leads me through a process of research and wonderful deep-dives into new relationships within my community. It all starts with sharing truths and a love for building good relations … and doing good work to honor these relations—with ourselves, with each other, with the land we share.
I saw that you’ve produced an independent series, Flimsy, and written screenplays during this past year of 2020. How did these projects come to be, especially through the pandemic?
Producing Flimsy and writing my first screenplay were gifts that came from turning deeply inwards when the world got quiet … and really just finding ways to keep going and keep creating. I have a wonderful co-creator on Flimsy, Printz Board. When we dove into the project it was a perfect way to stay connected to our creative communities and friends and really just find laughter and light during a time that felt so heavy. Everything was done remotely, our cast and crew spanned 5 countries … and our Director of Photography, Tracy Kohne worked magic to create the illusion that we were together.
In that same vein, what does self care mean to you? How have you taken care of yourself, especially through this past year?
A huge theme for me this year has just been breathing and listening. The stillness has offered so much growth. The quiet has offered so much perspective … self-care for me lately, has been a deep dedication to solo-time as I unfold discoveries about my identity and reclaim cultural strength.
Is there anything you wished you knew before pursuing these creative career paths, when you were first starting out?
I wish I had known these paths existed and that there was a place for me in this world. Representation was so scarce when I was younger that it never occurred to me that I could belong here. Although I’m grateful for the organic discovery and the way it has unfolded.
That is my hope for the work that I’m doing. To make space at the table for the ones who come after me but also very importantly, to make sure that they know the table exists.
Here are some rapid-fire questions:
Your go-to coffee shop order?
Any special or secret skills (i.e. wiggling your ears, etc.)?
I have a non-skill for sure… I can’t wink to save my life.
What TV show/movie did you last enjoy?
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Ultimate comfort food?
Potatoes. In any form.
What has been the highlight of your day today?
Walking by the ocean in the fresh rain
Lastly, what is upcoming for you and your work?
The music video for “Mama’s Hands” by KeAloha will be dropping in May. Which I had the privilege of directing and producing under my newly founded company, Two Rivers & a Rose Filmworks Inc. It will be the first of a five part music video collaboration series between my younger sister and I.
Late spring I will also be going to principal camera for a short film titled, BREATHE, written and directed by Cody Kearsley. This project is dear to my heart because I will be on the team as a lead and also as a producer. We will be implementing a mentorship program in partnership with local Indigenous Youth, inviting them to participate in the filmmaking process from pre-production to post-production.
And stay tuned for updates on my first feature, hopefully coming to life in 2022.
Keilani Elizabeth Rose, is an award-winning, classically trained actor and dancer, a model & spokesperson for companies including Walt Disney, Olay & Sportchek, and a popular radio & nightclub DJ. She’s worked in many hit TV/Film projects and is also known for her DJ-ing. After enduring a tumultuous childhood with a tremendous foundation of community support, she now works on a variety of collaborative projects focused on giving back.As the oldest of three remarkably close sisters, descendants of a rich multi-cultural heritage, Keilani is dedicated to challenging and influencing the world to promote sustainable community, inclusion, and equality through creativity.
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