Yesterday, Netflix announced that it had purchased the rights to the film Finding Ohana, a story that follows two New York siblings (played by Kea Peahu and Alex Aiono) whose trip to a sleepy Oahu town becomes a treasure-hunt adventure that ultimately connects them to their Hawaiian heritage. Finding Ohana is the feature directorial debut of Jude Weng, who has directed TV shows such as Black-ish, The Good Place, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Fresh Off the Boat, and Young Sheldon.
The writer of the script, Christina Strain, took to Twitter to explain her thought process behind the film.
“5 years ago I found myself really unhappy with everything I’d written. I’d written scripts I thought I ‘should’ write to break in[to the industry], and in the end I hated all of it,” Strain wrote. “So I wrote something for me.”
Strain went on to explain that growing up as an Asian-American, one of her heroes was the character Data from the movie The Goonies, played by Jonathan Ke Quan. Strain said she wanted to write “a Goonies style adventure starring all Datas.”
“The end result was a script I poured my heart into. A Goonies style movie in Hawaii that was about family, culture, and heritage,” with three of the four starring roles played by Asian and Pacific Islander actors. Strain had low expectations that any studio would buy the script, even after Weng agreed to direct it. “It starred Asian kids and was expensive. I didn’t think it would happen.”
But when Netflix executive Janet Wu went looking for a family adventure movie, Strain’s agent sent the script. According to Strain, Wu “immediately made an offer. Like, a day later.”
The onscreen talent was not the only issue of representation that mattered to Strain. The film was written by an Asian-American woman, will be directed by an Asian-American woman, purchased by an Asian-American woman, and will be produced by an Asian-American woman. “This makes me feel like EVERYTHING is possible,” Strain wrote.
As a final victory for Strain, Finding Ohana will also star her childhood hero, Jonathan Ke Quan.
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