Q'orianka Kilcher

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Q'orianka Kilcher
Q'orianka Kilcher 1.jpg
Kilcher in January 2004
Q'orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher

(1990-02-11) February 11, 1990 (age 30)
OccupationActress, singer, dancer, choreographer, producer
Years active2000–present

Q'orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher (/ˌkɒriˈæŋkə ˈkɪlər/;[1] born February 11, 1990) is a German-born American actress, singer, and activist. Her best known film roles are Pocahontas in New Line Cinema's 2005 film The New World, and Kaʻiulani in Princess Kaiulani (2009).

Early life[edit]

Kilcher was born in Schweigmatt, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany (present-day Germany). Her name Q'orianka means "Golden Eagle" in Quechua. Her father is of QuechuaHuachipaeri background from Peru, while her mother, Saskia Kilcher, is an Alaskan-born human rights activist of Swiss-German origin. When Kilcher was two, she and her mother moved to Kapaʻa, Hawaii, where her brother Kainoa was born.

Her father, from whom she is estranged, was absent for much of her life. Growing up in Hawaii, Kilcher was inspired by the local culture and started hula dancing at the age of five. She also trained in Tahitian dance and West African, as well as ballet, hip hop and modern dance. In 1997, Kilcher won Ballet Hawaii's Young Choreographer Award at age seven.[citation needed]

She was selected to compete at the international Tahitian Dance Competition in San Jose, California, in 1996 and 1997.[citation needed] She performed in over fifty professional dance performances island wide.[citation needed] As a member of the Waikiki Singers, she was chosen to be the soprano soloist, performing Schubert's Mass in G and Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti.[citation needed] At the age of six years, Kilcher was the first child to study classical voice at the University of Hawaii with Laurance Paxton. She also studied drama with Bill Ogilvie at the Diamond Head Theater. When she was six, her mother booked her at venues as a featured singer and opening act to some of Hawaii's greats, such as Willie K (Kahaiali'i) among others.[citation needed]

In 1999, her mother moved the family to California. Kilcher started to sing and dance for tourist donations, busking on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.


At the age of nine, Kilcher was cast as Choire Who in Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.[citation needed] She was 12 when she received a full scholarship to the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, where she studied vocal performance, music theory and songwriting.

She also studied martial arts and stunts: she is an accomplished Blackbelt in Wushu, Kung Fu and a stunt performer and has trained at the National Wushu Training Center and Impact Stunts.[citation needed]

At age 14, Q'orianka portrayed Pocahontas in the Academy Award-nominated motion picture The New World (2005), directed by Terrence Malick. Her performance was critically acclaimed and won her the National Board of Review's best breakthrough performance of 2006, the 2006 Alma Award for best Latin American actress in a feature film, and numerous other award nominations.[citation needed] The film was released in December 2005.[2] The film was a critical success, receiving several positive reviews and award nominations, but it was shown in only 811 theatres worldwide. It yielded a relatively low box office gross.[3][4]

In the summer of 2006, Kilcher began filming the independent film The Power of Few, which she produced through her own production company, Entertainment On-Q.[5] She played the title role in the 2009 feature film Princess Kaiulani. The film, about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, was released in May 2010 to negative reviews. But Kilcher received positive feedback for her role, with Roger Ebert writing that "she evokes great depth and sympathy in her role and seems to have created Kaiulani from the inside out."[6]

In 2009, Kilcher performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of common people in the U.S., based on historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States".[7]

A year later, she played Pinti in the family drama Shouting Secrets. The film won Best Film at the 36th American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and Kilcher was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. She also portrayed Kerrianne Larkin, daughter of Chibs Telford and Fiona Larkin, in the television series Sons of Anarchy.

In 2011, Kilcher played Tiger Lily in Neverland, a version of the Peter Pan story that aired on the Syfy Channel.

Two years later, she portrayed Rayen in Running Deer, an award-winning short film produced and directed by Brent Ryan Green through Toy Gun Films.[8]

Kilcher appeared in the 2019 adventure film Dora and the Lost City of Gold as the Inca princess.


Kilcher has made a commitment to human rights and environmental activism. She speaks on behalf of causes to achieve what she regards as environmental justice and basic human rights. Traveling frequently to speak at youth events, colleges and universities, she has been a featured keynote speaker for organizations such as Amnesty International, the International Forum on Globalization,[9][clarification needed] Amazon Watch IFIP[10][clarification needed] and the United Nations panel discussions titled "Indigenous Peoples: Human Rights, Dignity and Development with Identity", in collaboration with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.[citation needed]

She lends her celebrity, voice, and energy as spokeswoman, collaborator, and supporter to several international and national NGOs and organizations, such as youth ambassador for Amnesty International (Global Youth Ambassador for Woman's Rights), AIDESEP[11] (spokesperson and voice), Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest Federations, the Community School for the Arts foundation (volunteer/spokesperson) and Thursdays Child (youth counselor) Turning The Tides[12] (volunteer/spokesperson), Save Americas Forests,[13] IDEM (South Dakota Youth Project) and is a spokesperson for the American Literacy Campaign.

Working with the National Endowment For the Arts on their "The Big Read" campaign, she will record a book review.[citation needed] Kilcher has read Howard Zinn's The People Speak in staged readings. She joined the cast for the first People Speak film series.[citation needed]

Kilcher recently[when?] launched her own youth-driven human rights and environmental organization "On-q Initiative",[14] to connect young Hollywood with youth activist leaders and projects from around the world in support of environmental sustainability, corporate accountability, and basic human rights. Through her production company, IQ-Films, Kilcher is producing several cause-driven documentaries and youth-programming projects.[citation needed]

On June 11, 2009 she visited Lima to support indigenous peoples' rights in the Amazon in Bagua, Peru. In 2007, Kilcher won the Brower Youth Award, an environmental award, for her work in persuading Occidental Petroleum to withdraw from the Peruvian Amazon valley. She also received the Young Hollywood Green Award.[15]

On June 1, 2010, Kilcher and her mother were arrested after Kilcher chained herself to the gates in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. while her mother poured black paint on her to signify oil. They were protesting President Obama's meeting with Peruvian President Alan García, accusing the latter of selling land in the Amazon rainforest to corporations while suppressing indigenous protests.[16] Both were charged with disorderly conduct.[17] The charges were dropped on June 6, 2011, after the two completed community service.[18]

On September 4, 2015, Kilcher was part of a group that sang "Love Song to the Earth".[19] The song aims at raising awareness of climate change, with all proceeds benefiting Friends of the Earth U.S. and the UN Foundation. She and several "Love Song" singers performed in Washington, D.C. before Pope Francis' address to the U.S. Congress.


Q'orianka's two brothers, Kainoa and Xihuaru Kilcher, both work as actors and stunt performers. Kilcher's maternal grandfather was Ray "Pirate" Genet, a Swiss-born mountaineer who later immigrated to the United States. Her first-cousin once removed is Jewel, the Grammy-nominated singer.[20]

The founding patriarch of their family in Alaska, Yule Kilcher, was originally from Switzerland. He was elected as a member of the Alaska Senate and served as a delegate to the Alaskan constitutional conference.[21]



Year Film Role Director Notes
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Little Choir Member Ron Howard
2005 The New World Pocahontas (Matoaka, Rebecca Rolfe) Terrence Malick
2007 The Linguists Narrator Documentary shorts on DVD
2009 The People Speak Herself Tony Sacco Documentary film
Princess Kaiulani Princess Ka'iulani Marc Forby
2011 Shouting Secrets Pinti Korinna Sehringer
2013 Blaze You Out Demi Mateo Frazier / Diego Joaquin Lopez Direct-to-video
Tarantula Gabby Oley Sassone
The Power of Few Alexa Leone Marucci Also producer; direct-to-video
Running Deer Rayen Brent Ryan Green Short film
2015 Winter Light Gretchen Julian Higgins
Ben & Ara Gabrielle Nnegest Likke
Sky Missy Fabienne Berthaud
Unnatural Lily Hank Braxtan Direct-to-video
The Last Date Gabriela Gonzales Luis Horacio Pineda Short film
2016 Te Ata Mary Frances Thompson, also known as Te Ata Fisher Nathan Frankowski
2017 The Good Girls Myra Courtney Hoffman Short film
Hostiles Elk Woman Scott Cooper
The Vault Susan Cromwell Dan Bush Direct-to-video
2019 Dora and the Lost City of Gold Inca Princess Kawillaka James Bobin
2020 Color Out of Space Mayor Tooma Richard Stanley


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Madison Heights Maria Betancourt Episode: "Small World"
2010 Sons of Anarchy Kerrianne Telford Recurring role; 4 episodes
2011 Neverland Aaya Television mini-series
2012 Firelight Caroline Television film
The Killing Mary / Maid Guest role; 2 episodes
Longmire Ayasha Roundstone Episode: "Unfinished Business"
2013 The Birthday Boys Beautiful Native Episode: "Rock and Roll"
2015 The Life Laura Mendoza Episode: "Pilot"
2018 The Alienist Mary Palmer Main role; 10 episodes
2019 Drunk History LaNada Means Episode: "National Parks"
2020 Yellowstone Angela Blue Thunder Recurring role

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
2005 NBR Award Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress The New World Won
2005 WAFCA Award Best Breakthrough Performance The New World Nominated
2006 ALMA Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture The New World Won
2006 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Young Actress The New World Nominated
2006 Critics Choice Award Best Young Actress The New World Nominated
2006 CFCA Award Most Promising Performer The New World Nominated
2006 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Breakthrough Performance The New World Won
2006 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actress The New World Nominated
2013 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Song - Indie Film / Documentary / Short Free China Won


  1. ^ "Actress Q'orianka Kilcher on Climate Change Activism: Public Figures and Celebrities "Have a Responsibility to Help Give a Voice to the Voiceless"". Democracy Now!. April 20, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "The New World 2005 Re-release". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ "The New World Critics Reviews".
  4. ^ "The New World: Awards and Nominations".
  5. ^ Gardner, Chris (June 8, 2006). "Kilcher takes more "Power"". Variety. Retrieved June 11, 2006.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Princess Kaiulani movie review (2010) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
  7. ^ "Bringing History to Life | Voices of a People's History in the US". peopleshistory.us. Archived from the original on November 29, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  8. ^ "Award Winning Oklahoma Short Film Running Deer is Now Available on Vimeo on Demand". The Oklahoman. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  10. ^ "Home". internationalfunders.org.
  11. ^ "AIDESEP". www.aidesep.org.pe.
  12. ^ "Turning The Tides".
  13. ^ "Save America's Forests". www.saveamericasforests.org.
  14. ^ "Peru Youth 4 Truth". Archived from the original on February 28, 2010.
  15. ^ "YouTube clip".
  16. ^ "democracynow.org". Actor Q'orianka Kilcher Arrested at White House Protest – Democracy NOW!. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  17. ^ "nbcwashington.com". "Pocahontas" Paints With All the Color of Oil. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  18. ^ Charge dropped in actress' White House protest[permanent dead link], Associated Press, June 6, 2011
  19. ^ "Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi & More Sing a 'Love Song to the Earth' to Support Climate Action". Billboard. September 4, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  20. ^ Cameron, Chris. "Q&A INTERVIEW: On eve of 'Handmade Holidays' concert at Sands, Jewel's dad talks about their family life in the Alaskan wilderness". mcall.com.
  21. ^ "Anchorage Daily News". Another Family Star. Archived from the original on February 6, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2006.

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