Local singer on lead role in new Disney/Pixar animated short ‘Lava’

Hawaii will once again take center stage on the big screen.

Disney/Pixar’s new animated short film, “Lava,” was inspired by the sights, sounds and people of the islands. It is a fiery love story of two volcanoes searching for love.

“I play the role of Uku,” said Kuana Torres Kahele, “who is a lonely volcano searching millions and millions of years for his one true love.”

The seven-minute short features Na-Hoku-Hanohano-award winner Kahele and singer and kumu hula Napua Greig, who plays his love interest, Lele.

Kahele was discovered while performing on Hawaii Island. “I thought I was being punked or something because I was, like, me? So when it came true, I felt like a little kid.”

Because the word uku is commonly known as a Hawaiian Pidgin word for head lice, Kahele said “when the locals hear uku, they’re going to say, ‘Eh, Uku!’ I know, I’m hoping that after it comes out, that nobody starts calling me ‘uku.’ That would be kind of shame.”

Kahele will attend the world premiere of “Lava” this weekend at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan. The film will likely be shown at the fall edition of the Hawaii International Film Festival, scheduled for Oct. 30-Nov. 9 on Oahu.

“Lava” will make its U.S. debut in June 2015 as an opening short to Disney/Pixar’s animated feature “Inside Out.”

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