Keisha Castle-Hughes

Last updated

Keisha Castle-Hughes
Keisha Castle-Hughes at TIFF 2009.jpg
Castle-Hughes at a press conference for The Vintner's Luck, September 2009
Born (1990-03-24) 24 March 1990 (age 29)
Years active2001–present
Jonathan Morrison
(m. 2013;div. 2016)
Partner(s)Bradley Hull (2003–2010)

Keisha Castle-Hughes (born 24 March 1990) is a New Zealand actress who rose to prominence for playing Paikea "Pai" Apirana in the film Whale Rider . The film was nominated for many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress (at the time the youngest person nominated in the Best Actress category) and an award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Young Actor/Actress, which she won in 2004.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.


According to Māori tradition, Paikea is an ancestor of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Porou, Māori tribes in the South Island and east coast of New Zealand's North Island. Paikea is the name assumed by Kahutia-te-rangi because he was assisted by a whale such as a southern right whale (tohora) or humpback whales (paikea) to survive an attempt on his life by his half-brother Ruatapu.

<i>Whale Rider</i> 2002 drama film directed by Niki Caro

Whale Rider is a 2002 New Zealand-German family drama film directed by Niki Caro. Based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana, a twelve-year-old Māori girl whose ambition is to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather Koro Apirana believes that this is a role reserved for males only.


Since she made her film debut, Castle-Hughes has appeared in various films including Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger , Piece of My Heart and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith . She also performed as Mary of Nazareth in the 2006 film The Nativity Story . In 2015, she joined the cast of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones in Season 5 as Obara Sand. [1]

<i>Hey, Hey, Its Esther Blueburger</i> 2008 Australian film

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger is a 2008 Australian independent teen film written and directed by Cathy Randall. It stars Danielle Catanzariti, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Toni Collette. The film follows Jewish 13-year-old Esther (Catanzariti), an outcast at her posh school, where she has no friends. That changes when she meets nonconformist Sunni (Castle-Hughes) from the local public school.

Piece of My Heart is a 2009 New Zealand television film starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, Annie Whittle, Emily Barclay, and Rena Owen. It is based on true events about unwed teen mothers in 1960's New Zealand, and what really happened in their harrowing journeys from pregnancy to the birth and adoption of their babies.

<i>Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith</i> 2005 American epic space opera film directed by George Lucas

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the sixth entry in the Star Wars film series and stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Frank Oz. It is the third installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, following The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002), and the third film in the nine-part “Skywalker saga”.

Early life

Castle-Hughes was born in 1990 in Donnybrook, Western Australia, to a Māori mother, Desrae Hughes, and Tim Castle, an Anglo-Australian father. [2] [3] Her family moved to Auckland, New Zealand when she was four years old. She attained citizenship in 2001. Castle-Hughes attended Penrose High School and graduated from Senior College of New Zealand in Auckland. [4]

Donnybrook, Western Australia Town in Western Australia

Donnybrook is a town situated between Boyanup and Kirup on the South Western Highway, 210 kilometres (130 mi) south of Perth, Western Australia. The town is the centre of apple production in Western Australia. The town is also known for its picturesque abundance of English Oak trees.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages some time between 1250 and 1300. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture, with their own language, a rich mythology, and distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Māori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced; later, a prominent warrior culture emerged.

English Australians, also known as Australians of English descent or Anglo-Australians, are Australians whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England. In the most recent 2016 census, 7.8 million or 36.1% of respondents identified as "English" or a combination including English and is the largest 'ancestry' self-identity in the Australian census. English Australians have more often come from the South than the North of England.


In 2002, Castle-Hughes made her debut in the film Whale Rider , in which she played the main role of Paikea Apirana (Pai). Due to not having any previous acting experience, she went directly from her Auckland school classroom to the film set when the shoot began in New Zealand in late 2001. Castle-Hughes received widespread critical acclaim for her performance, and in 2004 she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards. Although she did not win the Best Actress award (it went to Charlize Theron for Monster ), at age 13 she became the youngest person nominated in this category at the time and the second Polynesian actress, after Jocelyne LaGarde, to be nominated for an Oscar.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. The most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of around 1,628,900. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,695,900. Auckland is a diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. A Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki or Tāmaki-makau-rau, meaning "Tāmaki with a hundred lovers", in reference to the desirability of its fertile land at the hub of waterways in all directions.

Academy Award for Best Actress award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actor winner.

76th Academy Awards 2004 ceremony honoring the best in film for 2003

The 76th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2003 and took place on February 29, 2004, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards in 24 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Joe Roth and was directed by Louis J. Horvitz. Actor Billy Crystal hosted for the eighth time. He first presided over the 62nd ceremony held in 1990 and had last hosted the 72nd ceremony held in 2000. Two weeks earlier in a ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, California held on February 14, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Jennifer Garner.

She soon followed the role by appearing in Prince's controversial "Cinnamon Girl" music video and with a shoot in Vanity Fair magazine. In 2004, Castle-Hughes was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. [5]

Prince (musician) American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and filmmaker

Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant fashion sense, and wide vocal range. A multi-instrumentalist, he was considered a guitar virtuoso and was also skilled at playing the drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, and synthesizer. Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound, which is a subgenre of funk rock with elements of synth-pop and new wave, in the late 1970s.

Cinnamon Girl (Prince song) 2004 single by Prince

"Cinnamon Girl" is a song by Prince, from his 2004 album Musicology.

Vanity Fair is a magazine of popular culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast in the United States.

In 2005, Castle-Hughes had a small part as Queen Apailana in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith . In 2006, she portrayed the starring role of the Virgin Mary in The Nativity Story . New York Times critic, A. O. Scott, said that she "seemed entirely unfazed by the demands of playing Mary. She had the poise and intelligence to play the character not as an icon of maternity, but rather as a headstrong, thoughtful adolescent transformed by an unimaginable responsibility." [6] The Christian-themed film earned only $8 million during its opening week, but its box office surged during the week of Christmas. [7]

Mary, mother of Jesus religious figure and mother of Jesus of Nazareth

Mary was a first-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.

<i>The Nativity Story</i> 2006 film directed by Catherine Hardwicke

The Nativity Story is a 2006 biblical drama film based on the nativity of Jesus, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac. The film was released on December 1, 2006 after it premiered in Vatican City November 26, 2006. The Nativity Story was the first film to hold its world premiere in Vatican City.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

In 2008 Castle-Hughes appeared in the Australian comedy-drama film Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger , which was filmed in late 2006. [8]

Castle-Hughes reunited with New Zealand director Niki Caro for the film adaption of The Vintner's Luck , which had its international premiere in September 2009.

Castle-Hughes starred in the Japanese horror film Vampire , [9] and she also played a recurring role as Axl's flatmate in The Almighty Johnsons which premiered in 2011. In 2011 Castle-Hughes also played a minor part in the film Red Dog as Rosa the veterinary assistant and wife of Vanno.

In 2014 Keisha had a guest role in the American television series The Walking Dead in which she played Joan. [10]

In 2015 she joined the cast of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones in Season 5 as Obara Sand. [1] She pursued a role on the show in part because she is a fan of the books. [11] Castle-Hughes found out that she had won the role the night the Season 4 episode "The Mountain and the Viper" aired, in which her on-screen father's death was shown. She described having a very intense emotional reaction to the scene, because of the connection between the characters on the show. [11]


Castle-Hughes campaigned for Greenpeace as part of the climate campaign in 2009. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key initially admonished her to "stick to acting", but offered a week later to discuss the issues with her over tea after she maintained she knew more about them than he gave her credit for. [12]

Personal life

In October 2006, when she was 16, it was announced that Castle-Hughes and boyfriend Bradley Hull were expecting a child together. [13] Their daughter, Felicity-Amore Hull, was born on 25 April 2007. [13] Castle-Hughes and Hull broke up in 2010 after seven years together. [4] [14]

In 2012, Castle-Hughes began dating Jonathan Morrison. After six weeks together, the couple became engaged in August 2012. [15] [16] Their wedding took place on Valentine's Day 2013. They were divorced in December 2016. [17]

In early 2014, Castle-Hughes revealed that she has bipolar disorder, in the wake of television personality Charlotte Dawson's suicide. [18]


Film and television
2002 Whale Rider PaikeaNominated for Academy Award for Best Actress.
2005 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Queen Apailana of Naboo
2006 The Nativity Story Mary
2008 Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger Sunni
2009 A Heavenly Vintage Celeste
2009 Piece of My Heart Young KatTV movie
2010 Legend of the Seeker Maia / The CreatorEpisode: "Creator"
2011 Vampire Jellyfish
2011 Red Dog Rose
2011–2013 The Almighty Johnsons Gaia Series Regular - seasons 1-2, Recurring - season 3
2012RewindPriyaTV movie, post-production
2013The StolenAroha
2014 The Walking Dead JoanEpisode: "Slabtown"
2015–2017 Game of Thrones Obara Sand 8 episodes
2014 Queen of Carthage SimiFilm
2016 Roadies Donna ManciniSeries regular
2017 Thank You for Your Service Alea
2017 Manhunt: Unabomber Tabby Milgrim
2019 FBI Hana GibsonGuest Starring Season 1 Episode 18
2020 FBI: Most Wanted Main


2003New Zealand Film and TV AwardsBest Actress Whale Rider Won
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association AwardsBest ActressNominated
Academy Awards Best Actress Nominated
2004 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Young Actor/ActressWon
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best ActressNominated
Promising PerformerWon
Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion PictureNominated
Online Film Critics Society AwardsBest Breakthrough PerformanceWon
Phoenix Film Critics Society AwardsBest Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – FemaleNominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Breakout Movie Star – FemaleNominated
Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress in an International FilmWon
2007 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress The Nativity Story Nominated
2009Qantas TV and Film AwardsBest Supporting Actress Piece of My Heart Won

See also

Related Research Articles

Mary Steenburgen American actress

Mary Nell Steenburgen is an American actress and singer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing the role of Lynda Dummar in Jonathan Demme's 1980 film Melvin and Howard.

Josephine Hull American stage and film actress

Marie Josephine Hull was an American stage and film actress who also was a director of plays. She had a successful 50-year career on stage while taking some of her better known roles to film. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Harvey (1950), a role she originally played on the Broadway stage. She was sometimes credited as Josephine Sherwood.

Anna Paquin Canadian-born New Zealand actress

Anna Hélène Paquin is a New Zealand-Canadian actress. She was born in Manitoba and brought up in Wellington, New Zealand, before moving to Los Angeles during her youth. She completed a year at Columbia University, before leaving to focus on her acting career. As a child, she played the role of Flora McGrath in Jane Campion's romantic drama film The Piano (1993), despite having had little acting experience. For her performance, she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 11, making her the second-youngest winner in Oscar history.

Finola Hughes British actress

Finola Hughes is an English actress, television host, entrepreneur, author, and dancer, best known for role as Anna Devane on the ABC soap operas General Hospital and All My Children, and her portrayal of Laura in the 1983 film Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever.

Esther Davis, better known by the stage name Essie Davis, is an Australian actress. She is best known for her roles as Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and Amelia Vanek in The Babadook. Other major work has included a recurring role as actress Lady Crane in season six of the television series Game of Thrones, and the role of Elizabeth Woodville in the television series The White Princess, an adaptation of Philippa Gregory's historical novel.

Janet McTeer British actress

Janet McTeer is an English actress. In 1997, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, the Olivier Award for Best Actress, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play for her role as Nora in A Doll's House (1996–97). She also won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Mary Jo Walker in the 1999 film Tumbleweeds, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Hubert Page in the 2011 film Albert Nobbs. She was made an OBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Niki Caro New Zealand film director, film producer and screenwriter

Nikola Jean "Niki" Caro is a New Zealand film director and screenwriter. Her 2002 film Whale Rider was critically praised and won a number of awards at international film festivals. She was hired to direct the 2020 live-action version of Disney's Mulan, making her the second female director hired by Disney to direct a film budgeted at over $100 million.

Rena Owen New Zealand actress

Rena Owen is a New Zealand actress in theatre, television and film. Owen is best known for her leading role as Beth Heke in Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors and as Taun We in George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

Wendy Hughes was an Australian actress known for her work in theatre, film and television. Hughes was an award-winning actress. Her career spanned more than forty years and established her reputation as one of Australia's finest and most prolific actors. Her biggest role was in Lonely Hearts, played in 1982. In her later career she acted in Happy New Year along with stars Peter Falk and Charles Durning. In 1993 she played Dr. Carol Blythe, M. E. in Homicide: Life on the Street. In the late 1990s, she starred in State Coroner and Paradise Road.

Emily Barclay New Zealand actress

Emily Barclay is an English-born, New Zealand AFI award winning actress.

Danielle Catanzariti is an Australian actress and stage actress. She is best known for her role as the title character in the 2008 film Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger.

The Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance is an annual film award given by the Online Film Critics Society to honor the best breakthrough performance of the year.

<i>A Heavenly Vintage</i> 2009 film by Niki Caro

A Heavenly Vintage is a 2009 internationally co-produced romantic drama film co-written and directed by Niki Caro. It is loosely based on the novel The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox. The film had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2009.

Holly Hunter American actress and producer

Holly Hunter is an American actress and producer. For her performance as Ada McGrath in the 1993 drama film The Piano, she won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress. She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Broadcast News (1987), and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Firm (1993) and again for Thirteen (2003).

Jessica Henwick British actress

Jessica Yu Li Henwick is an English actress who was the first actress of East Asian descent to play the lead role in a British television series, having starred in the children's show Spirit Warriors (2009–2010). She is also known for her roles as Nymeria Sand in HBO series Game of Thrones (2015–2017), X-wing pilot Jessika Pava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and the character Colleen Wing in Iron Fist (2017–2018), The Defenders (2017) and the second season of Luke Cage (2018).

Rose Leslie Scottish actress

Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie is a Scottish actress. After winning a Scottish BAFTA for Best Acting Performance for her role in New Town, she rose to fame as Gwen Dawson in the ITV drama series Downton Abbey and as Ygritte in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. She stars as Maia Rindell in the CBS All Access legal and political drama The Good Fight.

"Stormborn" is the second episode of the seventh season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 62nd overall. The episode was written by Bryan Cogman, and directed by Mark Mylod. The title of the episode refers to both Daenerys Targaryen, who was born during a terrible storm, and Euron Greyjoy, who declares himself to be "the storm".


  1. 1 2 "Game of Thrones season five cast announced at Comic Con!". Watchers on the Wall. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  2. "Keisha Castle Hughes". The New York Times . 9 April 2015. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015.
  3. "Keisha Castle-Hughes Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 Jonathan Marshall; Stephen Cook (8 October 2006). "From Virgin Mary to mum". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  5. "Academy Invites 127 To Membership". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 30 June 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. The Virgin Mary as a Teenager With Worries The New York Times. 1 December 2006.
  7. "The Nativity Story (2006)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  8. For Keisha, the show must go on The Adelaide Advertiser. 23 October 2006.
  9. "A Visit to the Set of 'Vampire' with Star Kevin Zegers - Bloody Disgusting!". Bloody Disgusting!. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  10. "Keisha Castle-Hughes to star in zombie smash". New Zealand Herald. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Keisha Castle-Hughes on joining Game of Thrones and playing a 'warrior monk'". Watchers on the Wall. 17 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  12. "Keisha and Key may talk over tea". Dominion Post. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  13. 1 2 "Introducing Felicity-Amore Hull – Keisha speaks about her labor, delivery, and new little girl". 8 June 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  14. "Keisha in Oscar night assault". New Zealand Herald. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  15. "Keisha Castle-Hughes engaged". 3 News. 30 August 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  16. Caroll, Joanne; Land, Emma (2 September 2012). "Keisha's wedding shock after six-week romance". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  17. "What the gossip mags say". Stuff. 18 February 2013.
  18. Lu, Anne (22 February 2014). "Keisha Castle-Hughes Opens Up About Bipolar Disorder Following Charlotte Dawson's Death". International Business Times . Retrieved 24 September 2017.

Further reading

Rangiahua, Sonny. Māori in media. Cambridge, N.Z. : Kina Film Productions, ©2003.