Pacific Islander Representation on the Rise.
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Pasifikas aka Pacific Islanders are on rise in the film industry and we are seeing an increase of actors in superhero roles as of late. But who are the Pasifikass? what are they where are they from. Well Pasifikas are part of the native communities of the continent known as Oceania. Mostly because of Oceania being the smallest continent, it is also one of the least known to the rest of the world and its people have a very small Diaspora outside of their native countries. The four main native communities among the Oceanic peoples are the Australasians (Notably the Aboriginal Australians), Polynesians (the best known out of the four with their Samoan, Hawaiian and Maori celebrities), Micronesians (not to be confused for the country Micronesia which exists in this subregion) and Melanesians. All these regions and cultures are better explained by YouTube channel Geography Now.
Due to the Black Lives Matter movement of late, many communities have spoken out in solidarity. Notably in Oceania, the Black Community are the Aboriginal of Australia as well as African migrants and they are being supported by the Pacifika community who was seen performing their traditional Haka during the protests.
It seems to be that Oceanic communities are on the rise of pop culture with the most notable being Dwayne the Rock Johnson himself who proudly represented his Samoan heritage in Hobbs vs Shaw and has referenced his Polynesian identity as a whole in Moana where he voiced Maui and in Baywatch where his character literally states he is Oceanic. He is currently cast on the DC Side of things in the first Middle Eastern lead superhero film as the Egyptian Black Adam. He isn't the only one.
Jason Momoa who is Polynesian by his Native Hawaiian and Samoan heritage recently portrayed Aquaman who is implied to be half Maori in the film by his father Tom Curry (Portrayed by Maori actor Temuera Morrison).
Further more Maori director Taika Waititi put in many Australian, New Zealander and Pacific Islander references through out the film Thor Ragnarok as well as portraying Korg with stereotypical Polynesian Kiwi bouncer accent and personality.
It doesn't stop there Fox's X-Men series had also featured their fair share of Oceanic people. Firefist in the X-Men comics is traditionally a slim white American teen but in the Deadpool 2 film he is portrayed as a chubby Maori New Zealander teen with Julian Dennison as his actor.
Fox series Legion featured original character of the name Oliver Bird a telepath who helps David Haller and the heroes. He is portrayed by another Maori actor Jermaine Clement with his natural New Zealander accent.
Finally we also have Dark Phoenix's Ariki. One of Magneto's Acolytes on Genosha, Ariki was originally intended to be Chinese Australian Red Lotus from the comics. But instead of casting an Asian Australian, they cast a New Zealander stunt man of Maori origin Andrew Stehlin and invented a whole new original character. The character seemed to have similar powers as Medusa from Inhumans, where his braid dreadlocks can be used as prehensile weapons as seen here.
While the increasing number of Polynesians in cinema is great we hope to see more of it alongside a potential increase of other Oceanic natives in film and TV. There is also a surprising lack of representation of Oceanic women onscreen but there have been some under radar in the music industry such as Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls who is partially native Hawaiian, Dinah Jane of Fifth Harmony has a mix of Tongan, Fijian and Samoan heritage and finally Pia Mia who is of partially Micronesian specifically Chamorro origin and is born on the island nation Guam.