Hawaii kumu hula and filmmaker Keo Woolford, 49, died today at Pali Momi Medical Center after suffering a stroke on Friday, according to his publicist.
His publicist Tracy Larrua said Woolford had just completed the script for a followup movie to “The Haumana,” his well-received 2013 film about a hula halau that was picked as the closing-night screening of the Hawaii International Film Festival. He was expected to conduct cast auditions in January, she said.
He was also recently appointed kumu hula of Kumu Hula Robert Cazimero’s award-winning Halau Na Kamalei o Lililehua. Woolford’s credits include a stint with “The King & I” in London and touring as a member of Hawaii “boy band” Brownskin. He also had a recurring role as Det. James Chang in “Hawaii Five-0.”
Woolford’s one-man show, “I-LAND,” served as the inspiration for the loosely autobiographical “The Haumana.” The film follows a young Hawaiian man who reconnects with his culture when he accepts the challenge of training a group of high school boys to perform at a hula festival. The film was screened at several mainland film festivals, winning the audience award for narrative feature at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it also was picked for the Special Jury Award for best first feature.
“He is a talent and extraordinary human being that will be missed,” Larrua said.
No further information was immediately available.