|Birth:||24 March 1990 (25)|
Keisha Castle-Hughes (born 24 March 1990) is a New Zealand film actress who rose to prominence at the age of eleven when playing Paikea "Pai" Apirana in the 2002 film Whale Rider. The film was nominated for many awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress of which she was the youngest female nominated in the Best Actress category and an award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Actress, which she won in 2004. Since she made her film debut, Castle-Hughes has appeared in various films including Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger (2008), New Zealand tele-movie Piece of my Heart (2009) and a small role in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). She also played the main role of the Virgin Mary, in the film The Nativity Story in (2006).
Castle-Hughes was born on 24 March 1990 in Donnybrook, Western Australia, to Desrae Hughes, a Māori mother, and Tim Castle, an English-Australian father. Her parents, who never married, later separated. She was 18 months old when her family moved to New Zealand; she became a New Zealand citizen in 2001. Castle-Hughes has four younger siblings, brothers Rhys (born 21 February 1992), Liam (born 1996) and Quade (born July 2006), and sister Maddisyn (born 2001). Castle-Hughes attended Waiuku Primary School, Bailey Road School, One Tree Hill College, and Rosehill College, all in Auckland. Career
In 2003, Castle-Hughes made her debut in the film Whale Rider, in which she played the main role of Paikea Apirana (Pai). She had not had any previous acting experience, and the 11-year-old actress 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 the film turned her into an international celebrity. 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, she became the youngest person nominated in this category and the first Polynesian ever nominated.
She soon followed the role by appearing in Prince's controversial music video for his song "Cinnamon Girl" and with a shoot in Vanity Fair magazine. In 2004, Castle-Hughes was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 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 as 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." The Christian-themed film earned only $8 million during its opening week, but its box office surged during the week of Christmas. Overall, it made approximately $44.3 million USD. One critic later speculated: "It may have been harmed by the fact that its leading lady, Keisha Castle-Hughes, was found to be unwed and pregnant just as the movie's publicity campaign began."
In 2007 Castle-Hughes appeared in Australian comedy-drama film Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger, which was filmed in late 2006. She reunited with New Zealand director Niki Caro for the film adaption of The Vintner's Luck, which had its international premiere in September 2009. She will also have a starring role in Mona's Dream, the story of Mona Mahmudnizhad. In March 2010, Castle-Hughes guest-starred as the Creator in the American weekly series, Legend of the Seeker. She starred in the Japanese horror flick Vampire.
In October 2006, it was announced that Castle-Hughes and Hull were expecting their first child together. Their daughter Felicity-Amore was born on 25 April 2007. The couple are no longer together. Keisha currently resides in Auckland. Castle-Hughes campaigned for Greenpeace as part of the SignOn.org.nz climate campaign. 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 a cup of tea after she maintained she knew more about them than he gave her credit for.
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