Q'orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher (born
February 11, 1990) is an American actress and singer. She is best known
for her role as Pocahontas in the 2005 film The New World.
Kilcher was born in Schweigmatt, Germany; she speaks English, some German
and some words of the extinct Powhatan language, an Algonquian language
(which she learned for her part in The New World). Her name means "Golden
Eagle" in Quechua. Her father is a Peruvian artist of Quechua/Huachipaeri
descent. Her mother, Saskia Kilcher, a human-rights activist of Swiss
descent, was born in Alaska and raised in Switzerland. Kilcher's maternal
grandfather was Ray 'Pirate' Genet, a famous Alaskan mountaineer. She is a
cousin of Grammy-nominated singer Jewel Kilcher.
When she was two, her parents moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where her
brother, Kainoa, was born. Her father, from whom she is now estranged, was
absent for much of her early life. Kilcher was inspired by the local
Hawaiian dancers and trained in West African and Hawaiian dance,
performing in over 250 dance contests by the age of nine, earning money to
support her family. She subsequently moved with her family to California,
where she busked on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
In 2002, she appeared on Star Search singing "Adagio", but came in second
place, with one of the judges, Naomi Judd, commenting that she needed
vocal lessons. Although she has had little acting training, she was cast
in the leading role of Pocahontas in 2005's Academy Award-nominated motion
picture, The New World. The film was released in December 2005 to mixed
reviews. The film was a critical success, garnering several positive
reviews and award nominations, but was shown in only 811 theatres
worldwide and yielded a relatively low box office gross.
The film's love scenes between Colin Farrell and the then 14-year-old
Kilcher caused some controversy, resulting in the film studio deleting
several scenes with Farrell to avoid child pornography accusations.
Kilcher has several projects planned, including charity work, a line of
buckskin clothing, and a CD of songs inspired by The New World.
In summer of 2006, Q'orianka began filming the independent film "The Power
of Few" which she is also producing through her own production company,
In the past, Kilcher has campaigned on behalf of Amnesty International, in
particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women and petroleum industry contamination of the
Amazon River Basin. Kilcher is a teen celebrity spokesperson for
Thursday's Child, a charity for at-risk children, where she has taken it
upon herself to address issues concerning children and such topics as
anorexia, bulimia, teen suicide, cutting, runaways, teen pregnancy and
missing and exploited children.
In addition to public activism, Kilcher is a silent advocate for the
environment, driving a Honda FCX Clarity, a hydrogen fuel cell
zero-emissions vehicle. Kilcher stated that she had never pumped a single
gallon of gasoline. On June 11, 2009 she visited Lima to support a march
in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples by the current problems in
the Amazon city of Bagua, Peru.