Actress of the Year Kimie Fujioka Wins Po’okela Award

Sasha Numazu-Fisher, Opinions and Blogs Editor

     On Aug. 12, the annual Po’okela Awards Banquet was held at the Ko’olau Ballrooms. Many esteemed and acclaimed community theatre actors gathered together for one of the most well known theatre award ceremonies in Hawai’i to commence. In fact, it was this year that MHS’s very own Kimie Fujioka was recognized and awarded as the best actress in a musical for her “In the Heights” performance.

     “The Po’okela Awards are community theatre awards, meaning that community theatre groups are nominated and it’s basically like the Tony Awards but for Hawai’i,” said Senior Kimie Fujioka. 

     The event itself was created by the Hawai’i State Theatre Council as a way to commend the various actors that perform in community theatre. Due to the wide range of actors who perform, the Po’okela Awards do not only pertain to adults, but also to college, high school and even elementary students. “It was honestly a great experience to know that I was performing with a bunch of adults and that most of the people who were up for these awards were older than me and then to actually get one myself, was a surreal feeling,” said Fujioka.  

     This year’s ceremony was the first year that Fujioka had ever received a Po’okela Award and the very first time that she had been a part of a community theatre production. Since high school and community performances are very different in the ways that they are produced and casted. The musical “In the Heights,” was a newer and overall rewarding experience for Fujioka. “I put a lot of time and effort into the character, I worked and everyone in the show worked so well together and we were like a family. So by just playing characters off of them, creating my own character and everything like that it really helped me grow and had definitely contributed to me winning an award like this,” said Fujioka. 

     Due to the award ceremony’s status in the Hawai’i theatre scene, it is truly looked upon as a badge of honor and something that many actors find as validating. Yet for Fujioka, acting is not something based off of attention but so much more. “I don’t do it for the awards, just for the fun and passion of it all but it is still so great to have received an award like this,” said Fujioka. 

     Fujioka, who has always felt influenced and supported by her family, gains motivation from both herself and them. Her family has also performed and been a part of numerous musical theatre productions, which is where Fujioka had first gained an interest in acting from. “I mean no matter what award or no award I’m always going to have a passion for theatre but I think that in a way it pushes me to work harder and winning something like this has shown me that in the end you can get to where you want to be and that sometimes things do work out,” said Fujioka. 

     Fujioka’s acting career has been a growing part of her life for several years now and through her numerous castings as lead roles in several shows, she hopes to see a bright future ahead in theatre. It has become a goal for Fujioka to continuously pursue acting during her last year of high school and hopefully in her adult life. “I want to move to Southern California and go to college there and possibly work at Disneyland. In the end after college, I would want to move up to New York and audition for Broadway or for traveling shows. Just to be able to do theatre and be immersed in it is a dream of mine,” said Fujioka. 

     Over summer break, Fujioka had taken a break from acting in order to focus on family, friends and traveling. Now that summer has passed, she has set her sights on getting back into theatre by performing in the high school production, “Frozen.” “I actually just got cast in a show, I’ll be playing in Frozen at Kapolei High School. I got Elsa so that should be fun. I start rehearsals today and it’s going to be great, getting back into it after summer break is going to be awesome,” said Fujioka. 

     Fujioka will be performing in Frozen from Nov. 22 to Dec. 14 at Kapolei High School. For those that are interested in watching the show or the newly Po’okela awarded star herself, tickets will become available to the public starting from early November.