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HIFF40 and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) is honored to present the annual PIC Trailblazer Award to singer and actress Keala Settle. In this one hour conversation, we will discuss Settle's humble beginnings growing up on the North Shore of Oahu and her trajectory in becoming an accomplished stage actor on Broadway. We will also discuss her eventual segue to the big screen with her Earth-shattering performance in THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, which would lead her to perform the Academy Award nominated song "This Is Me" to millions of viewers on Oscar night in 2018.
ABOUT KEALA SETTLE
Keala Settle made her Broadway debut in 2011 in PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT as ‘Shirley’ and in the ensemble. She originated the role of ‘Norma Valverde’ in HANDS ON A HARDBODY, which ran on Broadway in 2013, and was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Settle played the role of ‘Madame Thenardier’ in the revival of LES MISÉRABLES, starting in March 2014, and ending on March 1, 2015. Settle originated the role of ‘Becky’ in the musical WAITRESS, which opened on Broadway on April 24, 2016, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre after premiering at the American Repertory Theater in August 2015. Settle also played the role of ‘Tracy Turnblad’ in the national tour of HAIRSPRAY.
In 2017, Settle portrayed the “Bearded Woman” ‘Lettie Lutz’ in the musical drama THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, alongside Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. The song "This Is Me" from the film, won the 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. She can be seen next in the Universal Pictures feature ALL MY LIFE directed by Marc Meyers.
Settle was born in Laie on the North Shore of Oahu. the eldest of five children, of Susanne (née Riwai), who is of Māori (Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu) descent from New Zealand, and British-born David Settle, she is a graduate of Kahuku High School (class of 1993), and an alumna of Southern Utah University.
HIFF PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN COMMUNICATIONS TRAILBLAZER AWARD
Presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications, this award is given to a cinema artist of Pacific Islander heritage who broadens the scope of Pacific Islander stories onto the world stage, producing award winning work in independent and global cinema, becoming a trendsetter in their field and a cultural ambassador that shines a spotlight on Pacific islander culture in mainstream media. The honoree is a true trailblazer, whose work aligns to support, advance, and develop Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture, and contemporary challenges. Past recipients include Taika Waititi, Heperi Mit and Stan Grant. We are honored to present the 2020 Trailblazer Award to Hawai‘i's own, Keala Settle.