INTERVIEW: Finding ‘Ohana Kea Peahu & Owen Vaccaro

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We sat down to interview the cast of the new Netflix film Finding ‘Ohana newcomer Kea Peahu & Owen Vaccaro. You can stream Finding ‘Ohana on January 29 on Netflix.

Meghan: What are some of your family traditions or stories that have been passed down with your family?

Kea Peahu: So I actually don’t have much family traditions. One thing I do is for every Christmas we have each grandchild kind of has like their own tree. So I have like my own mini tree and okay. I don’t say this to the tradition, but something I’ve always done growing up is have big barbecues on the beach with my family, mostly when I lived on Oahu, but I would literally wake up on a towel on the beach and then I would just be able to swim. I went surfing.

Blogger: Have you ever visited Hawaii prior to this movie? Have you lived there? How did you learn the language?

Owen Vaccaro: No, I’ve never visited before. I mean, I saw the pictures online and I thought they were beautiful. I think I learned a lot more about the culture more than the language. I still didn’t really know a lot of the words, but I learned them all from Lindsay who plays Hana. She taught me like so many things about how to pronounce the words and a lot of the food Hawaii has incredible food. I’ve totally never been before. So I was like a complete baby coming into it, but I learned so much.


INTERVIEW: Finding ‘Ohana Alex Aiono & Lindsay Watson

INTERVIEW: Finding ‘Ohana Christina Strain and Jude Weng


Blogger: How important was it for you to be on a film that you know, was so much about inclusiveness in the Hawaiian culture, especially being kind of the odd man out?

Owen Vaccaro: Yeah, it was extremely important, I think, especially during this time with so many things happening with Corona and you know, all these events that have been happening, I think films like this with inclusivity are things that we really strive for and things we need to really focus on. I’m very happy that I was a part of it and happy that I could help it get done. And I think it’s absolutely incredible messages that people need to hear.

Blogger: The film is very family oriented and I was curious, did it make you connect more with your family after filming the movie?

Kea Peahu: Yeah, I think for sure. Yeah. I think, I mean, even playing for the role of Pili, you know, even though she’s connecting with her family, I feel like it also made me realize as a person, how important family is, you know, blood or not. I think it’s really important to treat others with like Aloha and respect. And I think, I hope that’s a message that people get when they watch it and they see how to, you know, take care of the people you love.

Owen Vaccaro: Exactly what Kea said I agree. I think even Kea and I still got more to learn and we’ve learned so much being on the film about family and how important it is, I guess how important your Ohana is in the spirit Hawaii. I think it’s very important.

Blogger: There was so much comedy throughout the film, so I want to know how you guys were able to keep your composure if you guys were able to at all, like how did that play into it? Because there’s so many zings back and forth.

Owen Vaccaro: We didn’t keep our cool most of the times, there was a lot of laughing, especially with Alex on set. Who’s like crazy good at the improv and all the comedy that he’s able to do was, I mean, impressive. Really? I mean, we didn’t really keep our cool whatsoever. We were laughing the whole time, but it was definitely a fun time.

Blogger: What was your favorite scenes and was there something from onset that you took home?

Kea Peahu: So my favorite scene is definitely the water scenes. First of all, when I was in the water, I loved seeing everyone’s faces when I was, you know, yelling for my brother. And I think I, you know, I’ve never done a water scene before. It was my first movie ever. So I think getting to do a water, she might die. You know, I’ve always wanted to do one and it’d been the first movie that I’ve ever acted in. And it was, it was, I was really grateful for that moment. And you know, I even seen some people shed a few tears, so that meant a lot to me. And it helped me get into character a lot. And something I brought home from said, I think it was just a reminder for me to always like spread a little hall with everyone. You know, everyone on set was so sweet and all the cash that they made me, it made it easier for me to, you know, get into character and it was all like one big family. So yeah, this reminded me of Ohana.

Owen Vaccaro: I think my favorite scene to film was definitely also the water scenes, but I think my absolute favorite was anything where we were doing, like any of the stunts that we did ourselves. We would be like put in harnesses that are really tight. You can’t like breathe by the way. And they would like, hang you from the back of your harness. Um, especially like when we have, we’ve got that scene where we jump off from the top of the waterfall and that was all in a harness. I think something that I brought back from set aside from the memories was all the wrap gifts. Cause at the end of the movie, it’s called a wrap gift. At the end of shooting a lot of the people will give gifts to everybody. And so, yeah, I got, I mean, Kay, you did too. We all got a lot of wrap gifts.

Blogger: We were told that you were very nervous because you thought you didn’t have any previous experience as an actress. How do you prepare for this role and how difficult was it for you to be in front of the cameras?

Kea Peahu: I’m a dancer. So I’m kind of used to like being in front of the camera because you know, I do competitions and I perform for the audiences. So I wasn’t really scared for that part, but you know, with acting it’s totally different. It was my first ever movie. So I had so much nerves inside of me, but I think what made it a lot easier is definitely the people that I got to act with. You know, all of the cast and the crew, they were super, super sweet and they made me feel super welcome. Speaker And I felt like I could be the character, but I could also be myself. So that definitely helped take away my nerves a lot.

Meghan Cooper: So I’m dying to know from either of you, what is one thing or place that you think everyone should experience in Hawaii?

Kea Peahu: Okay. The first place, it doesn’t have to be a specific one, but if you come to Hawaii, you definitely want to go to the beaches because you know, some people may think there’s nice beaches, but I’m telling you what you there’s, the water is very clean. It’s a warm, the sun is shining on you. And if you can make sure to get some good snacks from Hawaii with it too. Cause you know, beach plus the food from there. It’s amazing. So any beach is so cool.

Owen Vaccaro: In my opinion, the best place to visit in Hawaii, you know, aside from the beaches, which by the way they look just like they do on the internet, like what you see with the blue skies and the white sand, that’s literally what it looks like. Um, but I think that Kualoa ranch, which is, I believe on the North part of Kaneohe is absolutely, it’s like where they filmed Jurassic Park. Some of those scenes, I remember like the first time we got there, I was like awestruck by the size of these giant, I think there are mountains and they were incredible. And I think the other place is definitely Leonard’s bakery, which I think is also near the North shore. Yeah. Okay. She knows Leonard’s bakery. Um, the malasadas from Leonard’s bakery, absolutely like the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

Blogger: How are you like your character and how are you different?

Kea Peahu: So I think Pili and I have similar backgrounds, she’s from Oahu, but she, you know, she moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was young and she had her whole life there and I’m from Oahu. You know, I was born and raised there and child was eight years old and then I moved to LA to pursue my dream of acting and dancing. So I think we’re kind of similar in our background type of way. And the difference between us is she’s a geocacher so she’s very adventurous. I’ve actually never geocache in my life before. I guess you can kind of count our movie geocaching, but that was, you know, more for the character. But I definitely, I definitely like to try it out some day.

Blogger: I heard that you helped choreograph the last dance, the final dance in the film. So how did that come about?

Kea Peahu: So I’m a dancer and Jude wanted to incorporate dancing to the movie. So, you know, a lot of people think it was just me, but it was also, Owen and Lindsay and we all had our own little part in that dance and we all put it together. So I started it and then I think, Oh, what was it? What was the order?

Owen Vaccaro: It was you Alex, me, Lindsay.

Kea Peahu: Yeah. And then we all put it into one big dense. So, I can’t take all the credit for that because it was all four of us.

Blogger: Are there any specific messages or lessons that you’re hoping that families take away from this movie?

Owen Vaccaro: I think the main message is the importance of your family. Blood-related or not. I think your family can be whoever you really want it to be. Whoever’s close to you. My dad likes to use the term, like whoever will go up to bat for you is your family. I didn’t really know what it means. I don’t know basketball, but baseball. Sorry. Baseball, baseball, baseball. I think that’s, the main message is the important of the family and how, I mean, you kind of be nowhere without them.

Blogger: I’d love to hear how being in this film made an impact on you personally.

Kea Peahu: It is my first ever movie. So going into the, I had no idea what to expect, but now I feel like if I ever do another movie, I like be a little bit more prepared about what’s to come and, you know, maybe it’s going to be a whole different thing, but I think I have a little jest of what to expect and you know, it reminded me like how important family is. So I think coming out of it, it just reminded me about how important it is to, you know, take care of your loved ones. And I think, yeah, it was such a fun experience. And I think it’s also something that I could always have in the back of my head. You know, if I ever have kids one day, it would be like, you know, I had my first movie when I was 13. It’s really cool.

Owen Vaccaro: I think really just the experience of being in these places is probably the thing that, impacted me the most personally, but also just as Kea said, the message of the movie, the message of the importance of the family. I think it really just kind of brought more clarity for me personally, as to how important those things are.

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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