“Like everyone, I just knew the cartoon. But when I went to Virginia for pre-production things right before filming, they had a very great research team. They had been doing research for like a year prior to that and looking through every book possible. They gave me a whole bunch of books to do research in. I was reading all those books, reading Terry’s script so I was making sure I was still thinking of the way that Terrence Malick wanted to tell the story of John Smith and Pocahontas. I’m still doing research on Pocahontas today.” Q'Orianka Kilcher.
Part Quechua-Huachipaeri, part Swiss-Alaskan actress Q'Orianka Kilcher, the second cousin is popular singer Jewel Kilcher, started out as a singer on the CBS rival of "Star Search." In 2005, she garnered recognition for her leading role of Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated film, “The New World.” This 5' 3" had previously appeared in the film "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000) and guest starred in an episode of "Madison Heights." She will play the title role in the upcoming biopic, "Princess Ka'iulani."
Through her own production company Entertainment On-Q, Kilcher is currently producing the films "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" and "The Power of Few," as well as an untitled documentary.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Schweigmatt, Germany, on February 11, 1990, Q'Orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher (“Q'orianka” translates to "golden eagle" in the Incan language of Quechua), nicknamed “Q,” was raised in Honolulu, where her parents moved to when she was 2. Her father is a Peruvian artist of Quechua/Huachipaeri Native American descent while her mother, Saskia Elenor Kilcher (born July 1, 1968), is a human-rights activist who is a Swiss native and grew up in Alaska. She has two brothers, Kainoa Willcamayu Winay Salc'antay Kilcher (born on March 22, 1992 in Kauai, Hawaii) and Xihuaru Kilcher (born in 2000).
Her maternal grandfather, Ray “Pirate” Genet, was a famous Alaskan mountaineer who died in 1979 while making his descent from the summit of Mt. Everest. Her grandmother, Wurtila Dora Kilcher (born on May 28, 1943 in Anchorage, Alaska), is the daughter of Yule Kilcher, an Alaskan politician. Her second cousin is popular singer Jewel Kilcher (born on May 23, 1974), whose father was Wurtila Kilcher's brother.
Kilcher trained at Musicians Institute of Hollywood. In her free time, she involves herself with activism and charity work. She is a global youth ambassador for Amnesty International and Amazon Watch, and is the Founder of on-Q Initiative, an Environmental and Human Rights youth organization.
“While we are living in a time which demands us to urgently pay attention to such things as Climate change and Global warming, we also live in a time where we all need to encourage each other to be part of a shift and climate change in human consciousness and a global warming of hearts.” Q'Orianka Kilcher.
She also is a speaker at the United Nations on the Panel on Indigenous human rights and is the voice for several International Indigenous Youth organizations. Additionally, she is the teen celebrity spokesperson for Thursday's Child, an international charity for at-risk children. The world's first teenager driving a Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered car with pure water steam emissions, Kilcher won a Brower Youth Award for work against petroleum contamination in 2007.
“Who, or what has given any person the right or freedom to abuse natural resources and our environment?” Q'Orianka Kilcher.
The New World
Moving to Los Angeles with family to pursue a music career, Q'Orianka Kilcher, who has had little acting training, made her professional acting debut, playing Little Choir Member, in Ron Howard's live-action film based on the 1957 book by Dr. Seuss, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), starring Jim Carrey.
Two years later, she was spotted as a guest in a 2002 episode of the educational TV series "Madison Heights." That same year, she also competed in the first season of the new “Star Search” (1983) hosted by Arsenio Hall. She took the Young Singers category and sang "Adagio." Unfortunately, she lost in a preliminary round, coming in second place.
At the age of 14, while she was playing guitar on the streets of Santa Monica, California, Kilcher was chosen for the female lead, as the legendary Pocahontas, in Terrence Malick's historical adventure feature film "The New World" (2005), opposite Colin Farrell as John Smith. In the critically successful film, 14-year-old Kilcher sparked controversy for her love scenes with Farrell's older character. The film studio later deleted several of the love scenes to avoid child pornography accusations.
On the toughest aspect of preparing to play Pocahontas, Kilcher revealed, “I would say learning a perfect British accent. And then I learned the entire script in a perfect British accent. Then, strip that away for the first 60 pages and learn Algonquin, and I actually made myself learn Algonquin because that’s her native language so I really would know what I was saying. And then strip half of the Algonquin away and then do different stages of Algonquin mixed with English. So that was definitely very challenging. Then in some of Pocahontas’ lowest points in her life where she goes a little crazy…Unfortunately you’re not allowed to see too much of those times because, the length of the film that’s 2 hours and 15 minutes, I think. But that was very emotionally challenging. I thank my mom for being there afterwards, because when I would go home sometimes, I was just so wound up.”
About her on-screen lover, Colin Farrell, she admitted, “You know, I didn’t know who he was before. When I got on set of course everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re working with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale!’ He was really wonderful, a very giving actor and he was like my older brother in a way. He took me under his wing and he taught me so much in acting and very supportive. And Christian Bale and Wes Studi and Augi Schellenberg, they were all so good at what they did and it was such an honor for me. I felt so lucky just to be on set being able to watch all these actors work.”
Kilcher's performance in the Academy Award-nominated motion picture won her an ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and a National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress. She was also nominated a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award (Critics Choice Award) for Best Young Actress, a Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Performer, an Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance, a Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance, and a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actress.
“He [Colin Farrell] told me as an actor you shouldn't take yourself too seriously.” Q'Orianka Kilcher.
In 2007, Kilcher co-starred in the music video for Matt Kearney's "Breathe In, Breathe Out." She has completed her newest film, "Princess Ka'iulani," in which she portrays the titular Hawaiian princess who attempts to maintain the independence of the island against the threat of American colonization.
Kilcher, who owns the production company Entertainment On-Q, "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water," a drama based on the Michael Dorris 1987 bestseller, and "The Power of Few," an urban tale about cloning and terrorism. Kilcher will also star in the films. Additionally, she is producing an untitled documentary project in which she will appear as herself.
“You need people around you that care about you and are thinking about you in your best interest. And keep your mind straight.” Q'Orianka Kilcher.
Brower Youth: for work against petroleum contamination, 2007
ALMA: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, "The New World," 2006
National Board of Review: Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress, "The New World," 2005