When Lindsay Watson moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career after graduating from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2013, she had no idea that her big break would bring her back to Hawaiʻi.
In her debut role in the Netflix film “Finding ʻOhana,” she stars as Hana, an Oʻahu girl who ends up on an unexpected adventure with a group of friends. The plot centers on two Brooklyn-raised siblings as they connect with their Hawaiian roots while searching for long-lost treasure with their new pals, including Hana.
“Our director – Jude (Weng) – she was just really, really awesome about being really clear about the Hawaiian culture,” Watson said. “She didn’t want anything to be put out wrong. We had cultural advisors on the film, and to us, the Hawaiians on the film, especially the ones who had been born and raised there, she was like, ‘Talk to me, let me know if there’s anything you guys feel isn’t right.’”
Watson, who was born and raised in Upcountry Maui, went by her Hawaiian middle name, Anuhea, while attending KS Maui. She became interested in acting in middle school and landed her first role as a freshman in a school production of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”
“I remember her because she stood out as a freshman in this play with all upperclassmen,” recalled KSM kumu Camille Romero, who used to run an extracurricular drama program. “She had the desire and she had the commitment, and she has made it work for herself and that’s so impressive. As a teacher of any kind, I’m so proud that a student who came through my classroom had that kind of drive and commitment and did it.”
Watson admitted that finding success after moving to Los Angeles when she was just 18 years old wasn’t easy. She has been modeling and doing commercial work as she pursued her dream.
“We do lots of auditions and you hear a thousand ‘Noes’ before you hear a ‘Yes,’” said Watson. “Me moving away from home to get an opportunity led me right back full circle to come home. My first big project, I get to film in Hawaiʻi with my family. Since then, I’ve actually gotten to work on a few other projects in Hawaiʻi, and it has just been such a blessing.”
Former KSM Drama Club Advisor Alexis Dascoulias watched the movie trailer and was eager to see the family-friendly film that debuted on Jan. 29.
“There are certain students that you run into or young people that you work with, and you get the sense that they have that determination that is really going to get them far in life, whether it be performing or something else,” Dascoulias said. “That was definitely the sense that I got from Lindsay.”
“Finding ʻOhana” also features veteran actress Kelly Hu KSK’86.