Q'orianka Kilcher

Q'orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher (/ˌkɒriˈæŋkə ˈkɪlər/;[1] born February 11, 1990) is an 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).

Q'orianka Kilcher
Kilcher in January 2004
Q'orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher

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

Early life

Kilcher was born in Schweigmatt, Baden-Württemberg, 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 American 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.

She was selected to compete at the international Tahitian Dance Competition in San Jose, California, in 1996 and 1997. She performed in over fifty professional dance performances island wide. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

In 2012, Kilcher starred in Firelight alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and played the role of Caroline Magabo, a young Latina inmate who finds a new lease on life by becoming a volunteer firefighter along with other female juvenile delinquents.[8][9][10]

In 2013, she portrayed Rayen in Running Deer, an award-winning short film produced and directed by Brent Ryan Green through Toy Gun Films.[11]

In 2018, Kilcher appeared in TNT’s The Alienist as Mary Palmer.

Kilcher appeared in the 2019 adventure film Dora and the Lost City of Gold as the Inca princess. She will next appear in Channing Tatum's directorial debut Dog.[12]


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,[13] Amazon Watch IFIP[14] 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.

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[15] (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[16] (volunteer/spokesperson), Save Americas Forests,[17] 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. Kilcher has read Howard Zinn's The People Speak in staged readings. She joined the cast for the first People Speak film series.

Kilcher recently launched her own youth-driven human rights and environmental organization "On-q Initiative",[18] 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.

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.[19]

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.[20] Both were charged with disorderly conduct.[21] The charges were dropped on June 6, 2011, after the two completed community service.[22]

On September 4, 2015, Kilcher was part of a group that sang "Love Song to the Earth".[23] 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.[24]

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.[25]



2000How the Grinch Stole ChristmasLittle Choir MemberRon Howard
2005The New WorldPocahontas (Matoaka, Rebecca Rolfe)Terrence Malick
2007The LinguistsNarratorDocumentary shorts on DVD
2009The People SpeakHerselfTony SaccoDocumentary film
Princess KaiulaniPrincess Ka'iulaniMarc Forby
2011Shouting SecretsPintiKorinna Sehringer
2013Blaze You OutDemiMateo Frazier / Diego Joaquin LopezDirect-to-video
TarantulaGabbyOley Sassone
The Power of FewAlexaLeone MarucciAlso producer; direct-to-video
Running DeerRayenBrent Ryan GreenShort film
2015Winter LightGretchenJulian Higgins
Ben & AraGabrielleNnegest Likke
SkyMissyFabienne Berthaud
UnnaturalLilyHank BraxtanDirect-to-video
The Last DateGabriela GonzalesLuis Horacio PinedaShort film
2016Te AtaMary Frances Thompson, also known as Te Ata FisherNathan Frankowski
2017The Good GirlsMyraCourtney HoffmanShort film
HostilesElk WomanScott Cooper
The VaultSusan CromwellDan BushDirect-to-video
2019Dora and the Lost City of GoldInca Princess KawillakaJames Bobin
2020Color Out of SpaceMayor ToomaRichard Stanley
2021DogNikiChanning Tatum
Reid Carolin


2002Madison HeightsMaria BetancourtEpisode: "Small World"
2010Sons of AnarchyKerrianne TelfordRecurring role; 4 episodes
2011NeverlandAayaTelevision mini-series
2012FirelightCaroline MagaboTelevision film
The KillingMary / MaidGuest role; 2 episodes
LongmireAyasha RoundstoneEpisode: "Unfinished Business"
2013The Birthday BoysBeautiful NativeEpisode: "Rock and Roll"
2015The LifeLaura MendozaEpisode: "Pilot"
2018The AlienistMary PalmerMain role; 10 episodes
2019Drunk HistoryLaNada MeansEpisode: "National Parks"
2020YellowstoneAngela Blue ThunderRecurring role

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film Result
2005NBR AwardBest Breakthrough Performance by an ActressThe New WorldWon
2005WAFCA AwardBest Breakthrough PerformanceThe New WorldNominated
2006ALMA AwardOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureThe New WorldWon
2006Broadcast Film Critics AssociationBest Young ActressThe New WorldNominated
2006Critics Choice AwardBest Young ActressThe New WorldNominated
2006CFCA AwardMost Promising PerformerThe New WorldNominated
2006Online Film Critics Society AwardsBest Breakthrough PerformanceThe New WorldWon
2006Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a Feature Film (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young ActressThe New WorldNominated
2013Hollywood Music in Media AwardsBest Song - Indie Film / Documentary / ShortFree ChinaWon
2015Blow-Up International Arthouse Film FestivalBest Actress - Monica Vitti Award [26]Winter LightNominated


  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. Heinrich, Jim (April 19, 2012). "TV review: Female prisoners find redemption in 'Firelight'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  9. Hernandez, Lee (April 23, 2012). "Q'Orianka Kilcher, 'Firelight' Star, On Playing A Latina Juvenile Delinquent (EXCLUSIVE)". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  10. Lowry, Brian (April 19, 2012). "Firelight". Variety.com. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  11. "Award Winning Oklahoma Short Film Running Deer is Now Available on Vimeo on Demand". The Oklahoman. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  12. Q'Orianka Kilcher Joins Channing Tatum's Road Comedy 'Dog' (Exclusive)
  14. "Home". internationalfunders.org.
  15. "AIDESEP". www.aidesep.org.pe.
  16. "Turning The Tides".
  17. "Save America's Forests". www.saveamericasforests.org.
  18. "Peru Youth 4 Truth". Archived from the original on February 28, 2010.
  19. "YouTube clip".
  20. "democracynow.org". Actor Q'orianka Kilcher Arrested at White House Protest – Democracy NOW!. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  21. "nbcwashington.com". "Pocahontas" Paints With All the Color of Oil. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  22. Charge dropped in actress' White House protest, Associated Press, June 6, 2011
  23. "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.
  24. 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.
  25. "Anchorage Daily News". Another Family Star. Archived from the original on February 6, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2006.
  26. "Blow-Up film festival annual nominations and awards listing". Chicago. November 2015.
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