Mapuana Makia is an actress primarily based in L.A., Vancouver, and Hawaii! She discovered her love for the Arts in kindergarten after seeing a production and wanting to join the actors onstage. She went on to graduate from the Hawaii Pacific University with a degree in Theatre, and booked her first film, Aloha (where she got to meet Emma Stone!). Now, she stars in Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. as Noelani Nakayama, and has also appeared in Two Sentence Horror Stories and FOX’s Fantasy Island. She values the connections and collaborations she’s made along the way, finding those elements the most comforting in such a tumultuous career path. Makia’s advice to young artists? To “look into the business side as aggressively as craft… [and] find what you can do to make a comfortable living while pursuing the work,” as well as seeking out background and student film work to gain experience and find outlets and friends to support your mental health. Read on to learn more about Mapuana Makia and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Mapuana Makia
Heritage: Hawaiian Japanese
Hometown: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
Current City: In between L.A., Vancouver, Hawaii
Current project: Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. as NOELANI NAKAYAMA.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Doogie Kamealoha M.D., “Finding Ohana”, "Erased" on Two Sentence Horror Stories, Fantasy Island on FOX.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Yes! If you are looking into this as a profession, look into the business side as aggressively as the craft, learn about the different jobs (1099, W2) and how they affect your taxes. Look up an S-Corp. Find what you can do to make a comfortable living while pursuing the work, make a sustainable foundation for yourself while you're hustling.
For gaining experience, I would recommend any person who wants to get into TV and Film but has no experience, to do background work to learn the ropes. I'd also try student films. They are our future directors, AD's, cinematographers, etc. It's fun to come up in the industry together from the beginning, so, make those friends. And of course, MAKE YOUR OWN STUFF, find your own way.
On the personal side, make friends that support you, build you up. Let go of the ones who don't. Get into therapy. Keeping your mental health in check is the #1 thing you can do for yourself for sustainability.
How did you get your start?
I got my start in theatre as a kid. I saw people performing in a play when I was in kindergarten. I had no idea what they were doing, all I knew was I wanted to do it immediately. I wanted to jump out of my seat and get on stage with them. Then I just kept following my interests and what inspired me next.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
My very first movie I worked on was Aloha. It was my first job – so it felt BIG. I got to pass Emma Stone in Hair and Makeup, perform in The Hollywood Roosevelt parking lot with a huge green screen behind me, being directed by Cameron Crowe. Once I was done, I went down to the bar I worked at, picked up my tips from the night before and high fived with my co-workers. It was such a full circle moment of touching Hollywood, and then touching back to reality really quick. I am very nostalgic about that time.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
I guess the biggest challenge is getting that "break." It took a lot of faith in myself through the ups and downs that I was good enough to be in this business, persistence in working on my craft, and executing all that I've worked on once someone actually gives you the opportunity to do the thing. It really is (to me) skill meeting opportunity, and a little luck.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I'm currently obsessed with knitting. I went from polymer clay earrings to beading, and then I found knitting recently and I can't stop.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Focus. Remember why you moved to L.A. and what your priorities are. Stop eating pasta late at night. Get yourself in a steady routine and a steady class. Learn how to manage your finances and set budgets. Everything you say on the internet is there forever, be mindful. If you don't get the job, I promise it's not the last time you will act (even if it feels like it).
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Emotional intelligence. We're in a people business, navigating each other in often tight spaces. I'm lucky to sort of catch "vibes" in a room and be able to shift and see what needs need to be met on the day.
Where did you study at?
I got my degree in Theatre at Hawaii Pacific University thanks to the Miss Hawaii Scholarship program. In LA, I mostly studied at John Rosenfeld Studios. In Vancouver, Jeb Beach & Associates. AND doing tons of background and helping friends out with projects.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Right now I'd say, it's having a full life.
What do you love most about what you do?
The collaboration, the friends made along the way, and the long standing relationship I've had with this business. There's something I find comforting about it.
Who do you admire?
Jude Weng. She gave me a chance out of nowhere to work with her, and that kind of belief is something I am forever grateful for. She's also such a kick ass, inventive, talented director, and makes it feel so much fun to do the work.
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
I don't know. I felt my feelings, and somehow just kept going. I think sometimes that's all you can do.
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane? What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?
I have to have a steady exercise or movement routine. Long walks to clear my mind. Journaling to help me realize what I want next and where I'm at. These things used to feel optional, and now, if I don't do them, I get grumpy.
How do you prepare for a role you consider difficult personally, whether it hits too close to home or goes greatly against your personal beliefs?
When it hits close to home, I use what I've got.
If you’ve crossed the table from performing to being on a creative team, what made you take the leap, and how did it change your way of thinking?
I think EVERYONE should cross the tables one time or another. I'm currently taking an A.D. class and producer class. I've directed an entire web series in a day. I made the leap to see what else I could do in this business, and it changed my thinking tremendously. It made me see the bigger picture of how a whole group of people come together to make something. It also creates empathy. I think I am guilty of having a very myopic view in the past, only thinking of my role in the thing.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
Doogie Kamealoha M.D. I'm forever grateful to the show creators who gave me THE opportunity to bring Noelani to life.
To find out more about Mapuana Makia, please visit her at:
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