The story of Kalani Rosell, the non-Hawaiian student whose admission to Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2002 sparked community outrage, might become a motion picture.
C.W. Henderson, an editor of several East Coast publications and a close friend of the Rosell family, plans to include the story in his memoirs, which he hopes to turn into a film, he said via e-mail. Although Henderson has had talks with agents, publishers and producers about his memoirs and screenplay, he said no deal has been inked for the story, tentatively called "Yale Is God."
Rosell, 20, just finished his third year at Yale, where he is double-majoring in environmental studies and international studies as well as rowing on the university’s lightweight varsity men’s crew.
Rosell, the first non-Hawaiian admitted to Kamehameha Schools Maui, graduated in 2007.
The decision to admit Rosell caused an uproar with many parents and alumni who said Kamehameha was neglecting native Hawaiians. The school’s board of trustees and administrators explained at the time that Rosell had been selected after a list of qualified Hawaiian students had been exhausted.
Henderson confirmed that his memoirs, which he is still writing, will examine racism, religion, relationships and redemption.
"Cultural clashes are at the root of all of our social and political battles, and as a consequence they are most often the backdrop for epic stories," Henderson said.
Rosell’s parents, Maura and the late John Rosell, also were "a huge part of their son’s story," Henderson said.
"To this day no one knows the Rosell’s entire story but me," he said. "It is a big part of my memoir and screenplay."
Rosell’s mother divides her time between New Haven, Conn., and Maui. His father — Henderson’s best friend — died in the summer of 2007.
Rosell was born on Maui of Italian and Swedish heritage. He was a stand-out swimmer while at Kamehameha as well as an accomplished ballet dancer. He still performs as a member of the New Haven Ballet.
"Even though I am in Connecticut on the East Coast and away from everyone, I have maintained my connections to my roots in Hawaii," he said via e-mail. "And when I was on Maui earlier this year, I saw some of my former teachers and friends from Kamehameha Schools."
Neither the family nor Henderson would say anything else about the project, in part because of "the sensitive issues surrounding Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policies," Henderson said.
Henderson is the executive editor of Ivy League Week and Education Letter at the Wall Street Journal Professional Edition. He is a former publicist for Tri-Star Pictures and an independent TV producer. He has written stage plays, screenplays and TV programs, including the TV premiere of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" video.