UH Hilo student, on exchange at CUNY, documents Hilo native’s journey to Broadway

The documentary was part of a film assignment that called for students to document someone with an interesting job or someone who came to New York from a unique place.

James Elliot
James Elliot

James Elliott, a University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo performing arts student on exchange at Queens College (part of the City University of New York or CUNY) has directed and produced Leaving Hawaiʻi: Pedro Kaʻawaloa, a documentary about Pedro Kaʻawaloa, a Hilo native who moved to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a professional performer.

The documentary was part of a film assignment that called for students to document someone with an interesting job or someone who came to New York from a unique place. Elliott chose Kaʻawaloa, whom he has known since high school, as his subject.

Kaʻawaloa, who has a long history in performing arts, previously worked at UH Hilo as the music director for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Seussical, the Musical. He moved to New York in the fall of 2014 and has since been featured in Westchester Broadway Theatre’s production of South Pacific.

Leaving Hawaiʻi: Pedro Kaʻawaloa provides a insider’s look at Kaʻawaloa’s journey through a one-on-one interview, a backstage tour of the Westchester Broadway Theatre and video footage of some of his earlier work.

“Each of my auditions has been a fabulous learning experience,” said Kaʻawaloa of making his way in the business. “Each has challenged me in some way, and forced me to make decisions and learn from mistakes.”

“The message I want to share with viewers is never limit yourself,” said Elliott. “Everyone has dreams, goals and purpose.”

-from UH System News