Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK)

Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK)

National, focused on Pasifika representation, education and narratives, serving the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) community

About the Organization:

The Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK) seeks to redefine and expand Pasifika entertainment so that Pasifika creatives can thrive, evolve, and drive innovative storytelling that honors the richness and diversity across Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. PEAK uplifts and supports Pasifika talent by fostering community and utilizing industry networks, facilitating cultural workshops and training, and providing development opportunities for filmmakers.

organizational budget

$0-$50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

The Issue:

Pasifika populations, which include the diverse peoples of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, have long faced significant challenges in Hollywood and the media, arising from a combination of stereotypes, lack of education, cultural misappropriation, anti-Blackness, homophobia, transphobia, and limited opportunities for authentic storytelling.

Our writers, actors, directors, and producers are frequently overlooked in mainstream media and entertainment; this underrepresentation not only denies Pasifika talent valuable opportunities, but also limits the visibility and authentic portrayal of our stories. For example, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s analysis of the 1,300 top grossing films (2007 to 2019) found that, out of 51,159 speaking characters, only 5.9% were AAPI, with 39% of films lacking AAPI characters entirely. Additionally, only 3.5% of directors, producers, and casting directors, including only three women, identified as AAPI. With approximately 7% of the U.S. population identifying as AAPI, the disproportionate representation of these populations is jarring. Given that this data is not disaggregated, Pacific Islander statistics alone are considerably lower or, in some cases, non-existent.

Furthermore, Pasifika cultures are often exploited for profit in the media without proper understanding or respect. Traditional symbols, clothing, dances, and rituals are sometimes used out of context or without permission, resulting in the distortion of their cultural significance. This misappropriation erases the nuances behind these practices and can perpetuate harmful stereotypes that commodify our way of life.

It is essential to provide platforms for Pasifika voices to be heard and celebrated to promote greater cultural understanding, foster inclusivity, and contribute to a more equitable media landscape. By dismantling stereotypes, we seek to challenge preconceived notions and foster greater empathy and appreciation for the rich, diverse heritage of these cultures. Pasifika-centered storytelling is essential for the preservation and celebration of our cultural traditions. Unfortunately, many organizations fighting for AAPI representation tend to lack Pasifika voices; as the only Pasifika-led organization targeting these population-specific challenges, we see our mission as one of social justice and equity. By providing opportunities for Pasifika artists to share their stories, we seek to break down barriers and create a more inclusive entertainment industry. 

The Solution:

 As the only Pacific Islander-led organization pushing for narrative change in Hollywood, PEAK delivers training workshops that cover Pasifika representation and storytelling and the erasure of Pacific Islanders, even in AAPI spaces. To that end, we host both in-person and virtual industry presentations, workshops, training, panel events, and moderated discussions for media and entertainment outlets and leaders. Our sessions center Pasifika experiences in Hollywood covering everything from the history of Pasifika representation, nuances in identity, problematic narratives, and ideation for mitigating these issues in Hollywood. Sessions include space for audience engagement and are tailored to the individual needs of target organizations. Through these conversations, we promote solidarity and inclusion so that Pacific Islanders can be seen in their fullness.

Outside of workshop facilitation, PEAK also works with organizations and corporations to provide cultural sensitivity readings of scripts, review of merchandise and consumer products, early or rough cut storyboard reviews, referrals to translators and dialect coaches, and talent referrals.

Pasifika populations are not a monolith, therefore it is a major part of our mission to ensure integrity, authenticity, and nuance in Pasifika storytelling and representation. Therefore, in addition to our industry education initiatives, we also provide development workshops and a fellowship program for emerging Pasifika writers. In 2022, we coordinated our first writing fellowship in which five emerging artists were mentored by showrunner Dana Ledoux Miller. With additional funding, we would like to host an additional 5-10 writers in 2023 in order to help them advance their skills and industry relationships that will propel their careers forward. Through these programs, we strive to uplift Pasifika creative talent and empower them to thrive within a more equitable and inclusive industry.

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