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

North Cowicha to extend the time lines of its official community plan update. (File photo)
North Cowichan to extend time line of OCP review

Municipality also adds $55,000 to OCP budget

Cowichan Capitals’ Logan Rands digs for the puck along the boards in the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ zone midway through the third period of their BC Hockey League game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Cowichan Capitals pick up first two wins of BCHL season

Brockman, Moffatt both up to four goals on the year

A nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex on Cowichan Lake Road in Duncan ended peacefully on Wednesday, April 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Police surround building as homeowner held in apartment by adult son

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

The cherry trees on Canada Avenue in Duncan are in full bloom this April, 2021. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan’s cherry trees in full blossom

There are a few things that signal the coming of spring every… Continue reading

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Most Read