Keo Woolford, who wrote, directed and produced the 2013 independent film The Haumana, died Monday at a hospital in Oahu, Hawaii, after suffering a stroke, reports The Hollywood Reporter. He was 49.
Woolford also appeared in a recurring role as Det. James Chang on the remake of CBS’ Hawaii Five-0, along with other small roles in such films as Happy, Texas (1999), Falling for Grace (2006) and Godzilla (2014); toured as a member of the Hawaiian boy band Brownskin and starred in more than 300 performances as the King of Siam in a stage production.
The Haumana revolves around a host (played by Tui Asau) of a struggling luau show who reconnects with his culture after he takes over a high school hula class for boys after his former kumu hula (master hula teacher) dies. Jonny Kealoha is the charismatic host of a struggling Waikiki Polynesian lū`au show. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, he is appointed as the successor to a high school boy’s hula class when his former Kumu Hula (master hula teacher) passes away. He becomes as much a student as a teacher through the demands of leading the boys to a significant cultural event and rediscovers the sanctity of the culture he had previously abandoned.
The film won numerous awards including Audience Award at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival and Big Island Film Festival.