Born: March 24, 1990
Date of Birth: March 24, 1990
Half-Maori and half-Pakeha (European New Zealander), Keisha Castle-Hughes describes herself as always having been a bit of a drama queen. So when the casting directors for a new movie called Whale Rider came to her school in Mt. Wellington, New Zealand looking for an adolescent girl to star in the film, Keisha, who was 11 years old at the time, won their attention. But even so, getting the part wasn't easy, as she'd had no previous acting experience. Several hundred girls auditioned for the lead role of Pai, a girl who is the heir to her Maori tribe's throne. Keisha ended up going through eight auditions before finding out that the field had been narrowed down to herself and two other girls and finally, she was chosen.
The film was a huge success and Keisha's performance was applauded by many critics. In addition, she won a number of awards including a 2003 New Zealand Film and TV Award for Best Actress, a 2004 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Actor and a 2004 Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance in addition to an Oscar nomination for "Actress in a Leading Role."
Since her debut in Whale Rider, she has played a role in Star Wars: Episode III, filmed in New Zealand. She has also narrated the 2005 TV documentary Dances of Life. Keisha, who still lives with her parents and brother in New Zealand, says education is her number one priority.